David Risstrom - Greens Melbourne City Councillor 1999-2004
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ACHIEVEMENT: The City of Melbourne has established and using a 20 year sustainable water management regime.

TARGET DATE: December 2003 PROGRESS: Achieved.

DESCRIPTION: The purpose of setting a 20 year water management regime is to intelligently develop a means of conserving and better using our scarce water resources where they are needed. The development of the water regime now adopted by the City of Melbourne is described below.

'Watermark' has been developed, released and acted on. Under Watermark, Melbourne City Council has set a target of reducing water consumption by 12% by 2020 across the municipality, compared to an estimated business-as-usual approach resulting in a 100% increase by 2020. This equates to a 40% reduction in residential, commercial and industrial water consumption per capita, and a 40% reduction in corporate water consumption by the City of Melbourne in its operations.

The Melbourne City Council Environment Community and Cultural Development Committee resolved to publicly consult on the Sustainable Water Management Strategy and Action Plan, available as a download [110 Kb PDF file] by clicking on the underlined title.

Following consultation, a further report was presented to Council. A copy of the February 2003 City of Melbourne Draft Sustainable Water Management Strategy and Action Plan is available as a pdf download. I rejected this strategy as being unadventurous, calling on the city to produce revised targets more in line with the dire need to come to terms with the diminishing water supply and increasing water demands faced by the City. An extract of the report described this well, stating:

Melbourne has been in drought since 1998 and at the time of writing Melbourne’s reservoir capacity is at 46 per cent. Results of a recent National Land and Water Resource Audit concluded that Victoria’s water resources are heavily committed. This means that throughout Victoria, water will become an increasingly precious commodity requiring more careful and efficient use by all consumers. The City of Melbourne, along with other municipalities, needs to consider its long-term water use, particularly in light of the forecast increase in population.

Following further consultation with the community and internal negotiations with staff, the final report titled Sustainable Water Management Strategy - Part 1 was presented to Council in June 2003. I presented the modified, stronger proposal shown in the paragraph below, which was adopted unanimously.

The targets set by Melbourne City Council are reducing absolute water consumption by 12% by 2020 across the municipality, compared to an estimated business-as-usual approach resulting in a 100% increase by 2020. This equates to a 40% per capita reduction in residential, commercial and industrial water consumption, and a 40% reduction in corporate water consumption by the City of Melbourne in its operations.

Council would like to see 100 per cent of the savings committed to environmental flows. The Council Report states that "The City of Melbourne would like to see these savings committed to environmental flows. It is hoped that Melbourne Water would consider this proposal once these savings have been realised."

A further report providing detail action plans for implementing the water strategy is scheduled for tabling at the September 2003 Environment, Community and Cultural Development Committee meeting.

FURTHER INFORMATION: Melbourne Water's webpage Conserve Water is a good source of ideas for conserving water.

The June 2003 MCC report Sustainable Water Management Strategy - Part 1 contains excellent information and ideas on water use and conservation. It is available as a 532 Kb pdf download.

21 May 2004: The City Of Melbourne’s ambitious water saving plan ‘Watermark’, which has already produced a 17% reduction in water use in Melbourne, won the 2004 SaveWater Local Government Award.

The City of Melbourne developed Watermark in collaboration with the International Council for Local Environment Initiatives (ICLEI) and Melbourne Water. Watermark set targets of 40% reduction per capita in water consumption by 2020 across industry, the community and council activities, with the aim of using less water in 2020 than 1999.  This is notwithstanding an expected doubling of the municipality’s population in that time.

Greens Councillor David Risstrom, who is also international Vice President of ICLEI, received the award on behalf of the Council at an awards ceremony on Friday night. Cr Risstrom facilitated the piloting of the ICLEI Water Campaign in Australia and personally negotiated the ambitious targets set by Melbourne City Council that are acknowledged in the award.

The following information on the WaterMark Strategy is taken from the City of Melbourne website. You can find Watermark documents by searching http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au and searching for ‘watermark’.

In an Australian first, the City of Melbourne has developed an ambitious long-term strategy to slash water use in the municipality over the next 20 years. The strategy, WaterMark - towards sustainable water management by 2020, sets targets for residents, industry and businesses to reduce water consumption by 40 per cent by 2020. With the city's population expected to more than double to 123,000 by 2020, Council's target would mean that water-use across the City of Melbourne will be 12 per cent less than it was in 1999. The City of Melbourne aims to reduce water use is its parks, gardens and on street medians.

WaterMark projects, which aim to cut water consumption include:
* The planned Royal Park Wetlands and the water reuse project will reduce council’s water consumption by eight per cent. The project will capture the stormwater run-off from the Royal Melbourne Zoo and the Park Street stormwater drain. It will be treated via the wetlands system and re-used within the municipality.
* City of Melbourne will work to reduce water consumption at the Queen Victoria Market, reduce stormwater run-off and improve the stormwater quality.
* Council’s new staff accommodation building at Little Collins Street will incorporate international best practice water management systems as well as energy efficiency and other and ‘green’ design elements.

24 July 04: The latest figures show water consumption has dropped 12% across the municipality, while residents have reduced their water use by 42%.

Watermark won the local government category for outstanding achievement in water conservation at this year's Savewater Awards and is promoted by the Victorian Government as a model water strategy for other metropolitan councils.


Cool Green Tip Of The Week -

23 April 2017: Only those who decline to scramble up the career ladder are interesting as human beings. Nothing is more boring than a man with a career: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918 -1956.

This site is written, authorised and maintained by David Risstrom , 377 Little Bourke St. Melbourne, Australiaand had more than 1,003,082 visitors and 3,052,017 hits when updated on Sun 23 April 2017.