South East Melbourne recycled water supply infrastructure upgrades

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South East Melbourne recycled water supply infrastructure upgrades

Water supply and security in South East Melbourne
Early-stage proposal (Stage 1)
Location
Melbourne, Vic
Geography
Fast-growing cities
Category
Access to Water
Problem/Opportunity timeframe
Longer term (10-15 years)
Proposed By
Greater South East Melbourne councils
Date added to the IPL
26 February 2021
South East Melbourne rec upgradeycled water supply infrastructure

Problem

Climate change, population growth and ageing assets present potential longer-term water security problems for Melbourne. Climate-independent water supply sources can help address the problem.

Melbourne’s Eastern Treatment Plant produces over 130 billion litres of recycled water each year. Currently, about 95% (123 billion litres) of this water is treated and safely discharged into the Bass Strait.

There is an opportunity to re-use more of this water to safely irrigate high‑value horticulture crops, parks, sporting fields and green open space, rather than using potable water for these purposes.

This can reduce overall demand for potable water and contribute to Melbourne’s water supply security. Other potential benefits include reducing urban heat effects and increasing amenity, recreation, health, environmental and irrigated agriculture benefits.

The 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit found that the urban water sector faces considerable risks, including the impacts of climate change, population growth, ageing assets, and changing needs and expectations of users.

Proposal

The proposal could be addressed through a program of water infrastructure, planning, policy and management interventions to realise the value of rainfall-independent supply sources in South East Melbourne, and potentially other parts of Melbourne as well.

Next steps

Proponent to develop potential investment options (Stage 2 of Infrastructure Australia’s Assessment Framework).