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Melbourne Water is a Victorian government owned statutory authority that controls much of the water system in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, including the reservoirs, and the sewerage and drainage system that services the city.

Melbourne Water
Agency overview
JurisdictionGovernment of Victoria
HeadquartersMelbourne, Victoria, Australia
Agency executives
  • Michael Wandmaker, Managing Director
  • John Thwaites, Chairman of the Board

Melbourne Water was formed by the merger of Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works and a number of smaller urban water authorities in 1992. Melbourne Water primarily operates under the Water Industry Act 1994 and the Water Act 1989.[1]


Melbourne Water is wholly owned by the Victorian State Government. It manages Melbourne's water supply catchments, sewage, rivers and major drainage systems throughout the Port Phillip and Westernport region.

Governance of Melbourne Water is by an independent Board of Directors in conjunction with the Minister for Water.

Melbourne Water supplies water to the metropolitan retail water businesses (namely, City West Water, South East Water and Yarra Valley Water[2]), other water authorities, local councils and the land development industry.[3] The Victorian Water Industry Association (VicWater) is the peak industry association for water companies in Victoria.

In 1994, Melbourne Parks and Waterways was separated from Melbourne Water, and became part of Parks Victoria in 1996.

Victorian Desalination PlantEdit

The Victorian Desalination Plant is a A$3.1 billion desalination plant that was built in the Wonthaggi region of the Bass Coast.[4] The plant can provide an additional 150 gigalitres of water each year.[5][6] The base fee payable to the owner of the plant, even if no water is ordered, is $608 million a year,[7] or $1.8 million per day, for 27 years. being between $18 and $19 billion in total.[8] On 1 April each year, the Minister for Water places an order for the following financial year, up to 150 gigalitres a year, at an additional cost to Melbourne Water and consumers.[8]

Northern Sewerage ProjectEdit

Northern Sewerage Project is a major infrastructure project to increase the capacity of the sewerage system in Melbourne's growing northern suburbs. It will also help protect the Merri and Moonee Ponds Creeks by virtually eliminating sewage overflows that can occur after heavy rain.

Water restrictionsEdit

Melbourne Water has a system of restrictions to manage water supplies into the future. It reports on storage levels on Thursday each week[9] while an interactive graph compares actual use. Further reviews of restrictions were needed to counter an ongoing drought, poor rainfall, record low storage levels and rising water use compared with past years.


The water supply system operated and managed by Melbourne Water comprises:

  • catchments covering more than 140,000 hectares.
  • ten major storage reservoirs with a capacity of 1,810,500 megalitres.
  • 64 service reservoirs that provide short-term storage.
  • about 1300 kilometres of distribution mains and aqueducts.
  • 18 water pumping stations, used to pump water from low-lying areas to higher areas.
  • five water filtration plants.
  • 49 water treatment (disinfection) plants.

Water storagesEdit

Melbourne Water manages the ten Melbourne reservoirs. The total storage capacity is 1,810,500 megalitres.[10]

Melbourne reservoirs
Reservoir Capacity (ML) Year completed Location
Thomson 1,068,000 1983 37°50′34″S 146°23′56″E / 37.84278°S 146.39889°E / -37.84278; 146.39889 (Thomson Reservoir)
Sugarloaf 96,000 1981 37°40′30″S 145°18′18″E / 37.6749°S 145.3051°E / -37.6749; 145.3051 (Sugarloaf Reservoir)
Cardinia 287,000 1973 37°57′49″S 145°24′37″E / 37.9637°S 145.4102°E / -37.9637; 145.4102 (Cardinia Reservoir)
Greenvale 27,000 1971 37°37′53″S 144°54′17″E / 37.63139°S 144.90472°E / -37.63139; 144.90472 (Greenvale Reservoir)
Tarago 37,500 1969 38°1′S 145°56′E / 38.017°S 145.933°E / -38.017; 145.933 (Tarago Reservoir)
Upper Yarra 200,000 1957 37°41′S 145°55′E / 37.683°S 145.917°E / -37.683; 145.917 (Upper Yarra Reservoir)
Silvan 40,000 1932 37°50′S 145°25′E / 37.833°S 145.417°E / -37.833; 145.417 (Silvan Reservoir)
O'Shannassy 3,000 1928 37°40′30″S 145°48′20″E / 37.67500°S 145.80556°E / -37.67500; 145.80556 (O'Shannassy Reservoir)
Maroondah 22,000 1927 37°38′05″S 145°33′47″E / 37.63472°S 145.56306°E / -37.63472; 145.56306 (Maroondah Reservoir)
Yan Yean 30,000 1857 37°33′S 145°08′E / 37.550°S 145.133°E / -37.550; 145.133 (Yan Yean Reservoir)

Water supply catchmentsEdit

Around 80% of Melbourne's water is sourced from uninhabited forests in the Yarra Ranges and Central Highlands. In excess of 1,570 square kilometres is reserved for water catchment. These forests primarily consist of Mountain Ash. Catchment areas have been closed to the public for over 100 years .[11][12][13]

Major catchments[13]
Catchment Area (ha) Inflow (%) Comment
Thomson 48700 35.3 mainly State Forest and a small section within Baw Baw National Park
Upper Yarra 33670 18.7 within the Yarra Ranges National Park
O'Shannassy 11870 11.4 within the Yarra Ranges National Park
Maroondah 16540 10.8 within the Yarra Ranges National Park
Sugarloaf 0 10.7 water is pumped from the Yarra River and fully treated
Yarra Tributaries 13480 3.8 Armstrong, Cement, McMahons and Starvation Creeks (State Forest)
Wallaby 9100 1.9 within the Kinglake National Park
Total 92.6

In addition to the reservoirs in the table above, water is harvested via a number of diversion weirs:

Point Coordinates
(links to map & photo sources)
Silver Creek Weir 37°21′22″S 145°12′35″E / 37.356171°S 145.209854°E / -37.356171; 145.209854 (Silver Creek Weir) To Toorourrong Reservoir
Wallaby Creek Weir 37°24′16″S 145°14′48″E / 37.404495°S 145.246650°E / -37.404495; 145.246650 (Wallaby Creek Weir) To Toorourrong Reservoir
Toorourrong Reservoir 37°28′32″S 145°09′08″E / 37.475430°S 145.152296°E / -37.475430; 145.152296 (Toorourrong Reservoir)
Donnelly Weir 37°37′41″S 145°32′10″E / 37.628°S 145.536°E / -37.628; 145.536 (Donnelly Weir) To Maroondah Aqueduct
Sawpit Creek Weir 37°38′02″S 145°32′31″E / 37.634°S 145.542°E / -37.634; 145.542 (Sawpit Creek Weir) To Maroondah Aqueduct
Grace Burn Creek Weir 37°39′18″S 145°34′26″E / 37.655°S 145.574°E / -37.655; 145.574 (Grace Burn Creek Weir) To Maroondah Reservoir
Badger Creek Weir 37°41′10″S 145°34′55″E / 37.686°S 145.582°E / -37.686; 145.582 (Badger Creek Weir) To Silvan Reservoir
Armstrong Creek Weir[14] 37°38′13″S 145°51′36″E / 37.637°S 145.860°E / -37.637; 145.860 (Armstrong Creek Weir[14]) To Silvan Reservoir
Armstrong Creek East Branch Weir[14] 37°38′17″S 145°51′50″E / 37.638°S 145.864°E / -37.638; 145.864 (Armstrong Creek East Branch Weir[14]) To Silvan Reservoir
Cement Creek Weir[14] 37°43′S 145°45′E / 37.71°S 145.75°E / -37.71; 145.75 (Cement Creek Weir[14]) To Silvan Reservoir
McMahons Creek Weir[14] 37°43′S 145°53′E / 37.72°S 145.88°E / -37.72; 145.88 (McMahons Creek Weir[14]) To Silvan Reservoir
Starvation Creek Weir[14] 37°46′S 145°51′E / 37.76°S 145.85°E / -37.76; 145.85 (Starvation Creek Weir[14]) To Silvan Reservoir

Clearfell logging is permitted in the Yarra Tributaries and Thomson catchment areas. Some studies claims this reduces Melbourne's water supply arguing that young regrowth forest uses more water than existing forest[14][15][16] Some environmental groups claim that up to 30 thousand megalitres of water could be saved per annum by phasing out logging. This represents 6% of Melbourne's annual usage.[17]

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit


  1. ^ Melbourne Water : About Us : Who We Are : Who We Are
  2. ^ Melbourne Water : About Us : Our Customers : Our Customers
  3. ^ Melbourne Water about us
  4. ^ Rood, David (4 February 2008). "In the eye of the storm". The Age. Melbourne.
  5. ^ Melbourne Water : Current Projects : Water Supply : Seawater Desalination Plant : Seawater Desalination Plant
  6. ^ Microsoft Word - 132863.doc
  7. ^ "Subscribe to the Herald Sun". Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  8. ^ a b "Victorians pay dearly, but not a drop to drink". ABC News. 18 December 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Melbourne Water : Water : Water Storages : Water Storages
  11. ^ "Water Catchments". Melbourne Water. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
  12. ^ Department of Primary Industries. "Water Supply Catchment Protection". Retrieved 30 September 2011.
  13. ^ a b Dudley, Nigel; Stolton, Sue; Asante-Owusu, Rachel (2003), Running pure: the importance of forest protected areas to drinking water (PDF), World Bank/WWF Alliance for Forest Conservation and Sustainable Use, pp. 74–77, ISBN 978-2-88085-262-7, retrieved 22 November 2011
  14. ^ a b c d e f Feikema, Paul; Lane, Patrick; Peel, Murray; Sherwin, Chris; Freebairn, Andrew; Salkin, Owen (October 2006), Hydrological studies into the impact of timber harvesting on water yield in state forests supplying water to Melbourne – Part 1 of Hydrological studies, eWater Cooperative Research CentrePart 1a Archived 2011-03-27 at the Wayback Machine Part 1b Archived 2011-03-27 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Logging rainforest within the Melbourne's domestic water supply catchments, Victorian Rainforest Network
  16. ^ National water week demonstrations expose logging in Melbourne's water supply, The Wilderness Society
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 August 2006. Retrieved 5 January 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)