Sustainable water management

There is a growing international interest by governments, organisations and communities in the liveability, sustainability, productivity and resilience of cities. While governments and communities usually agree on these outcomes, it is still challenging to decide how to most effectively achieve them. There is a need to order and make sense of the long-term transformations that will be required. The Water Sensitive City is a concept that aims to support cities in implementing the water system policies and practices that can enable these broad liveability, sustainability, productivity and resilience outcomes.

household water cycle

The Water Sensitive City focuses on holistic management of the integrated water cycle, aiming to protect and enhance the many benefits and services of the complete urban water cycle valued by society. It encompasses a broad range of goals for urban water systems that depart from conventional water servicing, including water conservation, fit-for purpose use, flood reduction, pollution minimisation, urban landscape improvement, urban heat island mitigation, co-governance processes, long-term timeframes for planning and an interdisciplinary approach.

There is crossover between management for water sensitive cities and integrated water management. Integrated water management (IWM) supports the development and operation of parks, wetlands, streams and urban vegetation, and can deliver multiple benefits including flood mitigation, urban cooling, clean air, healthy streams and increased biodiversity, as well as contributing to recreation and amenity.

The Victorian government has highlighted the importance of IWM in recent policy such as Water for Victoria (2016) and plans to broaden the reach of IWM activities across the state to enhance the resilience and liveability of Victoria's cities and towns. Though the Integrated Research Project 1 case studies are independent and will use different processes, they share with the Victorian government's proposed IWM planning process the goal of engaging broadly at the local level.

  • CRC for Water Sensitive Cities
  • Australian Government - Business - Cooperative Research Centres Programme
  • Monash University
  • Queensland University