Vic govt moves to improve stormwater management

Friday, 19 October, 2018

Vic govt moves to improve stormwater management

Victorian Minister for Water Lisa Neville and Minister for Planning Richard Wynne have announced changes to all state planning schemes to extend stormwater planning requirements to commercial, industrial, public and multi-dwelling residential developments — a move that is intended to protect rivers, reduce the burden on drinking water supplies, and deal with the challenges of climate change and a future with less rainfall.

The changes will ensure most developments requiring planning permits reduce pollution and other harmful effects of stormwater entering waterways. This will help protect the long-term health of urban waterbodies such as the Yarra River and Port Phillip Bay — and where possible use stormwater instead of drinking water for purposes such as watering parks and gardens.

“Stormwater is the biggest threat to the health of urban waterways and one of the biggest threats to the health of Port Phillip Bay,” said Neville. “It’s our responsibility to protect these vital assets for future generations.”

The changes were recommended by the Improving Stormwater Management Advisory Committee in its final report, released today. The committee was appointed in April to advise the government on how to improve stormwater management and strengthen the links between water and land-use planning.

“Over the years many stakeholders have called for more consistent stormwater planning controls and I’m proud that this government has listened and responded by introducing more equitable and effective controls,” said Wynne.

Expanding the stormwater management provisions will deliver Action 19 of the government’s Yarra River Action Plan to protect the Yarra under the Yarra River Protection (Wilip-gin Birrarung murron) Act 2017. The government is also seeking to restore a natural water inflow regime to the environmental and culturally significant Bolin Bolin Billabong — another key commitment from the Yarra Action Plan.

“The Bolin Bolin Billabong is a significant cultural asset and now we have an opportunity to explore a permanent water source for these wetlands,” said Neville.

The government will now investigate the potential to provide a water licence to support environmental outcomes in the lower Yarra River wetlands — including the Bolin Bolin Billabong — after 1100 ML became available following the sale of the Amcor Paper Mill, providing a secure source for the lower Yarra wetlands. The investigation will ensure there are no inadvertent environmental or third-party impacts from using the water for these wetlands and look for opportunities to maximise environmental and cultural benefits.

Melbourne Water has now released the Progress Report for the Yarra Strategic Plan, which provides an update of the work undertaken to date and the next steps to deliver the community’s vision. To read the report, visit

Image credit: © Hatashita-Lee

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