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Victoria produces Australia’s first Integrated Water Management (IWM) Framework to create better community outcomes

The Victorian Government will put communities at the centre of storm and recycled water management through new forums across Victoria as part of an Integrated Water Management (IWM)Framework released last week.

The framework will help government organisations work with the community on urban water management, water supply, wastewater, flood resilience, waterway health and to develop healthy recreational spaces. This is the first time that the systematic application of collaborative IWM has been designed and promoted at a statewide scale in an Australian context. According to the framework document, an IWM approach to planning requires water sector members to clearly understand their own accountabilities and those of other organisations. This clarity facilitates the allocation of benefits, costs and risks for integrated solutions. This separation of responsibilities makes a collaborative approach essential for planning that effectively recognises water cycle complexities.

The water services regulatory framework and its institutional arrangements are clear about core services. However, there are a range of water management functions – such as lake management, stormwater harvesting and public open space management – where accountabilities are less clear. The IWM process provides an opportunity to work through areas of ambiguous accountabilities.

IWM planning is already being used to varying extents across Victoria. The Victorian Government will support the establishment of IWM Forums to identify and prioritise areas that would most benefit from collaborative place-based planning. The forums will bring together water sector organisations to explore, prioritise and oversee opportunities to be developed into local projects and servicing strategies through IWM Plans. To ensure local voices are central to decision making, metropolitan and regional water forums will be established.

Each forum in the metropolitan catchments will have its own chair appointed to help guide the process. The newly appointed chairs include:

  • Chris Chesterfield (Yarra)
  • Dr Gillian Sparkes (Westernport)
  • Rob Skinner (Lead Chair and Werribee)
  • Lydia Wilson (Maribyrnong)
  • Shaun Cox (Dandenong)
  • Prof Carol Boyle (Barwon)
  • Steve McKenzie (Goulburn Valley)

The IWM Framework is a part of Water for Victoria – Victoria’s long-term plan to boost water security, protect jobs and agriculture, recognise Aboriginal water values and improve environmental health.

By 2065, streamflows to some of the state’s catchments could reduce by about 50%, while Victoria’s population is set to almost double by 2051.

The Victorian Government has invested $584 million to deliver water initiatives that implement Water for Victoria, including a record $222 million for waterway health. The full IWM Framework document with case studies can be found here. Featured image of the Thomson Reservoir in Victoria, Australia by Melburnian licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

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