Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan

Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan
Pilot Water Sector Climate
Change Adaptation Action Plan
Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

Over recent decades Victoria’s
climate has become drier and
warmer. The recent Millennium
Drought was the worst drought
on record in south-east Australia.
Add to that a population forecast
to grow from 6 million in 2018 to
10 million by 2050 and it is clear
we must do more with less.

© The State of Victoria Department of Environment, Land, Water
and Planning 2018.
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Cover photograph: Craig Moodie.

     Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan
Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning


Aboriginal acknowledgement           2    5. Actions: three-year plan           49
The Minister for Water               3      5.1. 		Actions to build knowledge 52
Executive Summary                    4      5.2.		Actions to develop         54
                                                  frameworks, policy and tools
1. Introduction                       7
                                            5.3.		Actions to enhance staff      56
  1.1.			 Context                     7
                                                  capability and capacity
  1.2.		Objectives                    7           to apply adaptation to
                                                  business decisions
  1.3.		Legislation and policy       8
                                            5.4.		Funding sources               58
  1.4.		Scope                        12
                                          Appendix 1 – Process of               59
2. The climate change challenge 16
                                          development and delivery
  2.1 		Climate change in Victoria 16
                                          Appendix 2 – Summary of               61
  2.2. Impacts of climate change 20       water entitlement and water
       on the water sector                resource planning frameworks
3. Governance, roles and            28    Appendix 3 – Other related            63
   responsibilities                       work underway
  3.1. 		Water sector governance    28    Appendix 4 – Greenhouse gas           66
         framework                        emissions of the actions
  3.2. Roles and responsibilities 29      Key terms and acronyms                67
       in climate change adaptation
4. Existing climate change         33
   adaptation policies, initiatives
   and gaps
  4.1 		Building knowledge          33
  4.2. Frameworks, policy and       40
       tools for adaptation
  4.3.		Enhancing staff capability 45
  			and capacity to business

                     Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan    1
Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan
The Victorian Government
proudly acknowledges Victoria’s
Aboriginal community and their
rich culture, and pays respect to
their Elders past and present. We
acknowledge Aboriginal people as
Australia’s first peoples and as the
Traditional Owners and custodians
of the land and water on which we
rely. We recognise and value the
ongoing contribution of Aboriginal
people and communities to
Victorian life and how this enriches
us. We embrace the spirit of
reconciliation, working towards the
equality of outcomes and ensuring
an equal voice.

2   Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan
Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

                         The Minister for Water

                         Water is a vital resource. Government,         when climatic conditions will likely be
                         communities, business and industry,            very different.
                         must manage it effectively for current
                                                                        Acting now will reduce long-term costs.
                         and future generations, particularly
                                                                        Planning appropriately for climate
                         in the face of climate change and
                                                                        change and managing the water sector
                         population growth.
                                                                        accordingly will reduce the need for
                         Victoria’s climate is already becoming         expensive retro-fits and help us avoid
                         drier and warmer. The south-east               building infrastructure that can’t fully
                         Australian Millennium Drought was              function as the climate changes.
                         the State’s worst on record. Stream            It also means Victoria will be better
                         flows dropped to record lows with              placed to deal with more extreme
                         water restrictions implemented in              weather events.
                         457 Victorian towns – half of these
                                                                        The Pilot Water Sector Adaptation Action
                         restrictions were severe.
                                                                        Plan aims to drive adaptation across
                         More severe droughts are expected              the water sector. Under the Climate
                         in future, with stream flows in some           Change Act 2017, a legislated plan is
                         Victorian catchments projected to drop         required by 2021. We have prepared this
                         by approximately 50% by 2065. We are           pilot plan ahead of schedule to ensure
                         likely to see further impacts as global        the community and the water sector
                         temperatures rise including:                   responsible for drainage, sewerage
                         • more intense rainfall, which may cause       and flood management, are involved
                            more floods and sewer overflows             in planning for a system that adapts
                         • warmer water temperatures,                   effectively in the face of climate change.
                            increasing the potential for water-         It will also help us determine the scale of
                            borne pathogen growth                       work required. What we learn from this
                         • more frequent and intense fires, which       pilot plan will be built into the legislated
                            will affect our water catchments.           Adaptation Action Plan in 2021.

                         Climate change could threaten water            This pilot plan outlines possible climate
Water is a vital                                                        change scenarios, the actions already
                         sector infrastructure, the people who
resource. Government,    work in the sector and the services            taken to address the potential climate
communities, business    Victorian communities require.                 change impacts and implications, what
and industry, must                                                      we still need to do, and the priority actions
                         Add to that a population forecast to grow      needed to put the sector on the right track
manage it effectively    from 6 million in 2018 to 10 million by 2050   to a resilient water future for Victoria.
for current and future   and it is clear we must do more with less.
generations.                                                            Planning now means Victorians can
                         The Victorian Government is driving            participate in determining how our water
                         our transition to a climate resilient          sector will evolve in the face of climate
                         community and economy with net                 change. It also means we are more
                         zero emissions by 2050. The water              likely to successfully adapt so current
                         sector is leading this transition with a       and future generations of Victorians
                         commitment to reduce greenhouse gas            receive safe, affordable and reliable
                         emissions by 42% by 2025.                      water, sewerage, drainage and flood
                                                                        management services with minimal
                         Leading climate change adaptation
                                                                        negative impacts on our environment
                         across the State’s water systems, which
                                                                        as the climate changes, just as previous
                         include sewerage, drainage and flood
                                                                        generations provided for us.
                         management, is an important action in
                         Water for Victoria, our long-term plan
                         for effective water sector management.
                         To succeed, we need to begin adapting
                         now. The infrastructure we build               The Hon. Lisa Neville MP
                         today could still be in use in 70 years,       Minister for Water

                                                      Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan     3
Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

Executive summary

Equipped with the most up-to-date understanding of climate
change and associated impacts, Victoria’s water sector is
committed to providing leadership in the State’s climate
change mitigation and adaptation.
This pilot Water Sector Climate          Water Sector Climate                    Climate change and the
Change Adaptation Action Plan            Change Adaptation Action                water sector
(WSAAP) has been prepared
in response to the current and
                                         Plan                                    Variability has always been a
potential future impacts of climate      This WSAAP is a pilot, prepared         feature of Victoria’s climate, from
change on the water sector, its          three years ahead of the first          drought through to flood events.
customers, and the Victorian             legislated AAPs. The purpose is to      Large storage dams, water markets
community.                               test the process of developing an       and catchment management
                                         AAP, and to develop actions that        processes are just some of the
Climate Change Act 2017                  provide water sector customers          features of Victoria’s water system
                                         with reliable services under an         that have been set up to manage
Victoria’s Climate Change Act                                                    this variability.
                                         increasingly challenging climate.
2017 (the Act) places a statutory
                                         It reviews the adaptation activities    However, more recently the water
obligation on nominated Ministers
                                         already underway and plans new          sector has observed changes
to prepare sector-based Adaptation
                                         actions to address gaps in our          in climate, and built climate
Action Plans (AAPs) for seven
                                         adaptation program.                     change preparedness into its
different ‘systems’ by 2021.
                                         Actions undertaken between now          management. This is in part a
The ‘water cycle system’, referred                                               result of the seriousness of the
                                         and 2021 will build a firm foundation
to herein as the ‘water sector’, is                                              impacts experienced during the
                                         for future actions to ensure that
identified in the Act as requiring an                                            Millennium Drought (1997 to 2009).
                                         we have a climate change-resilient
AAP. The scope covers all sources                                                The 13 consecutive years of drought
                                         water sector.
of water, sewerage services,                                                     had a significant impact on water
drainage services, and flood             This WSAAP has been developed           supplies for households, businesses,
management services. Waterway            in close collaboration with             agriculture and the environment.
health, biodiversity, ecology and        representatives from water
agriculture are out of scope and         corporations, catchment                 There were also three associated
form parts of other system AAPs.         management authorities (CMAs)           large fires – in 2003, 2006 and
                                         and local government, who each          2009 – all of which also affected
                                         manage parts of the water sector.       Victoria’s catchments and water
                                                                                 supplies. The drought broke in
                                         Public consultation has recently        2010 with one of the largest flood
                                         been undertaken to inform the           events ever recorded. There have
                                         climate change elements of Water        also been significant water quality
                                         for Victoria (2016). Therefore          impacts from pest animals, weeds,
                                         consultation on the WSAAP has           runoff from fires, erosion and land
                                         focused on the water sector             use change.
                                         organisations, industry bodies and
                                         interest groups. A more extensive       Such conditions and events are
                                         public consultation phase will          anticipated to become more
                                         be undertaken to inform the             frequent and severe with climate
                                         development of the first legislated     change, bringing increased threats
                                         WSAAP due by 2021.                      to water quality and recreational
                                                                                 and environmental values. Figure A
                                                                                 depicts potential impacts of climate
                                                                                 change on the water sector.

4   Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan
Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

Adaptation underway                                The infrastructure programs have                   Victoria’s water sector is now
                                                   been informed by projections of                    leading the State’s response to
Water for Victoria set a long-term
                                                   population growth and climate                      climate change in both adaptation
plan to prepare for and respond
                                                   change. Local governments in                       and greenhouse gas emissions
to climate change. In addition,
                                                   Victoria are estimated1 to own                     reduction, and has committed to a
Victoria’s water corporations will
                                                   and manage over 35,000 km of                       42% reduction in greenhouse gas
spend about $1.2 billion per year
                                                   stormwater pipes and 1.4 million                   emissions by 2025. The intersection
over the next three years on water
                                                   stormwater pits, with an estimated                 between adaptation and emissions
and sewerage infrastructure to
                                                   replacement value of $11 billion.                  reduction is actively considered in
deliver reliable services to Victoria’s
                                                   They are actively investing in                     the water sector, where activities
growing population.
                                                   integrated water management                        such as revegetation can benefit
                                                   solutions.                                         both adaptation and mitigation.

Figure A. Impacts of climate change on the water sector

                                                                5                                                         3






1.   Sea level rises                      6.   More frequent bushfires                             10. Heavier rainfall may lead to sewer
2.   More heat waves                      7.   More frequent and severe droughts                       overflows, impacting receiving waters
3.   Temperature increases                8.   More frequent and extreme flash flooding            11. Limited access to water for agriculture,
4.   Lower average rainfall               9.   More frequent and severe storms                         parks, gardens and recreation areas
5.   More intense storms                                                                               during drought.

1 Data provided by Municipal Association of Victoria (pers. comm. 2018) is indicative only, as some councils were unable to provide data and
  some estimates were made. The data is based on 2014, and was then escalated to account for growth and CPI increases up to end of 2017.
  The results also do not include Melbourne City Council.

                                                                          Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan                 5
Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

Proposed adaptation actions                   They address the three short-term              The actions will be delivered by
                                              objectives of this WSAAP:                      DELWP in partnership with water
This WSAAP commits to 20 further
                                              1 Build knowledge of how climate               sector organisations. An adaptive
actions to deliver more resilient
                                                change will impact Victoria’s                planning cycle is in train and will
services to water sector customers.
                                                water sector;                                inform adaptation in the sector
The actions will be cost effective
                                              2 Develop the frameworks, policy               across successive WSAAPs.
in leveraging existing investments,
research and expertise, while                   and tools to enable successful
having a minimal impact on                      adaptation; and
greenhouse gas emissions.                     3 Enhance the capability and
                                                capacity of water sector staff to
                                                apply climate change adaptation
                                                to business decisions.

Figure B. The policy objectives of the Act informed the WSAAP’s objectives and adaptation actions.

WSAAP Objective 1:                                                                                WSAAP Objective 2:
Build knowledge                                                                                   Develop frameworks,
Action 1: Undertake a water grid                                                                  policy and tools
stress test                                                                                       Action 9: Review the Guidelines
Action 2: Understand implications                                                                 for Assessing the Impact of
of more intense rainfall in                                                                       Climate Change on Water
combination with overall drier                                                                    Supplies in Victoria
conditions, for flooding                                                                           Action 10: Develop a framework
Action 3: Consider the changing                                                                   to inform consistent and
sewerage, drainage and flood
                                                    Adaptation policy                             systematic embedment of
management risks under climate                   objectives of the Climate                        climate change considerations
                                                                                                  into water business decisions
change in Integrated Water                             Change Act
Management Forums                                                                                 Action 11: Develop a monitoring,
                                                To build the resilience of the State's
Action 4: Encourage the use of best                                                               evaluation, reporting and
                                                 infrastructure, built environment
practice methods to incorporate                                                                   improvement plan
                                                         and communities.
climate change into the estimation                                                                Action 12: Review the use of
of future flood impacts                       To manage the State's natural resources,
                                                                                                  climate change scenarios in
                                             ecosystems and biodiversity to promote
Action 5: Identify the impact of                                                                  water sector planning
                                                        their resilience.
climate change on Traditional Owner
values associated with water and                To support vulnerable communities
how to adapt to them                              and promote social justice and
                                                     intergenerational equity.
Action 6: Collate and share
knowledge about the impact of
climate change on water supply
between water sector stakeholders
Action 7: Collate and share knowl-
edge about the impact of climate
change on sewerage
Action 8: Improve information
sources on adaptation for the water

            WSAAP Objective 3: Enhance the capability and capacity of water sector staff
            Action 13: Review emergency management plans used in the water sector in the context of climate change
            Action 14: Review and update workforce emergency management capability, capacity and training requirements
            Action 15: Identify and manage key risks between water and other critical service sectors
            Action 16: Identify key elements of successful adaptation business cases
            Action 17: Develop and deliver guidance material for water industry boards and executives on climate change
            risks and duties of care
            Action 18: Estimate the costs of climate change to water corporations
            Action 19: Improve management of the potential impacts of climate change on water quality relating to algae
            Action 20: Prepare guidelines for assessing the impact of climate change on sewerage systems

6   Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan
Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

1. Introduction

1.1. Context                            Climate change adaptation needs          1.2. Objectives
                                        to be undertaken in an iterative
The way our society manages             process in which we regularly            The objectives for this WSAAP
water will need to change in            review our assumptions about             are consistent with the direction
response to the impacts of climate      the future and assess whether            set out in Water for Victoria and
change and population growth.           the current strategy still holds or      in Victoria’s Climate Change
Victoria’s water sector is already      needs to be modified. Adaptation         Adaptation Plan 2017–2020. The
adapting to more extreme and            decisions need to keep some              actions in the WSAAP will help to
variable conditions. This has           options open to be deployed if the       achieve the short-term objectives
been prompted in part by the            future is worse than anticipated,        as well as achieve progress
Millennium Drought (1997–2009),         but also avoid over-investing in         towards the medium- and long-
which was associated with water         case the future is not exactly as        term objectives.
shortages and several extreme           expected. This is known as an
events in Victoria. These events        adaptive pathways approach,              Short-term objectives
included three large bushfires (in      and will be undertaken through           (by 2021)
2003, 2006 and 2009) that affected      the successive WSAAPs developed          The short-term objectives of this
our catchments in addition to           under the Act.                           WSAAP are to:
causing devastating loss in our
                                        An understanding of the potential        1. build knowledge of how climate
communities. It challenged the
                                        impacts of climate change and               change will impact Victoria’s
water sector to think about how
                                        how to best manage the threats              water sector;
well it was prepared for changing
environmental conditions and more       will be essential for the continued      2. develop the frameworks, policy
extreme natural events, including       delivery of high quality services to        and tools to enable successful
temperature increases, sea level        customers. Not all threats can be           adaptation; and
rise and the potential for more         avoided, but understanding them          3. enhance the capability and
heatwaves, storms, high winds,          will be essential to developing             capacity of water sector staff
bushfires, droughts and floods.         effective risk mitigation strategies.       to apply climate change
                                        Enabling policy, tools and                  adaptation to business decisions.
However, preparing for and              technologies will allow us to better
responding to climate change is         understand issues before they            Medium-term objective
challenging. Climate change is          arise, and to take definite steps to     (by 2025)
complex, and it affects different       reduce impacts on customers.
parts of the water sector in                                                     The medium-term objective
different ways. It also affects         This WSAAP will help the water           is to integrate climate change
different regions of Victoria           sector to further embed climate          adaptation considerations into
differently. Climate change needs       change considerations into               all relevant business decisions
to be considered alongside other        planning, design and operations. It      in the water sector.
pressures on water security such as     is an opportunity for Government         This objective will require a
population growth and changing          and water sector organisations to        coordinated and systematic
economic conditions. In reality there   partner and build on the initiatives     approach to climate change
are always uncertainties about          in Water for Victoria, and keep          adaptation, supporting and
the future, including future climate,   the sector at the leading edge           linking with key business systems
population growth, consumer             of climate change adaptation             and processes.
behaviour, industry and agriculture     planning. As noted above, such
changes, and technological              adaptation is an iterative process
advancement. There are also             that will require ongoing review
multiple objectives for society,        and action.
industry and the environment –
adapting to climate change is only
one of them.

                                                            Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan   7
Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

Long-term objective (by 2030)                                                  1.3. Legislation
The long-term objective is to enable the sector to provide reliable services   and policy
that meet customer expectations under a changing climate, while
balancing the associated impacts on customer bills, on water business          Climate Change Act 2017
finances, and on the environment.
                                                                               Adaptation Action
This may include consultation with customers about ongoing levels of
                                                                               Plans: background and
service, for cases in which customers feel that continuation of the current
levels of service has an undue cost or environmental impact.                   requirements
                                                                               The Act introduced system-based
Table 1.1: Objectives of the WSAAP and the timeframe for each                  planning for climate change
                                                                               adaptation. Under the Act,
    Objectives                                                   Timeframe     Adaptation Action Plans (AAPs) are
                                                                               required to be developed every
    Short-term      1 Build knowledge of how climate             2018–2020     five years from 2021 for systems
                      change will impact the Victorian                         that are essential or vulnerable to
                      water sector                                             the inevitable impacts of climate
                    2 Develop the frameworks, policy             2018–2020     change and are therefore a priority
                      and tools to enable successful                           for the State Government. The
                      adaptation in the water sector                           seven systems are:
                    3 Enhance the capability and                 2018–2020     1. Built environment
                      capacity of water sector staff to                        2. Education and training
                      apply climate change adaptation
                                                                               3. Health and human services
                      to business decisions
                                                                               4. Natural environment
    Medium-         Integrate climate change adaptation          By 2025       5. Primary production
    term            into all relevant business decisions in                    6. Transport
                    the water sector                                           7. Water cycle system
                                                                                  (referred to herein as the
    Long-term       The water sector continues to provide        By 2030          ‘water sector’)
                    reliable services to customers under a
                                                                               The Act requires AAPs to be
                    changing climate, while appropriately
                                                                               developed in the year following
                    balancing the associated impacts on
                                                                               the release of the Act’s five-yearly
                    customer bills and on water business
                                                                               Climate Change Strategy (due by
                    finances and on the environment
                                                                               31 October 2020), which will set out
                                                                               a statement of priorities to which
                                                                               the AAPs must be aligned. The first
                                                                               legislated AAPs are required to be
                                                                               prepared by 2021.

8     Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

However, in Victoria’s Climate           Statement of priorities
Change Adaptation Plan 2017–
                                         The Act requires AAPs to be developed in the year following the release of
2020, the Victorian Government
                                         the Act’s five-yearly Climate Change Strategy, the first of which is due by
committed to develop pilot AAPs
                                         31 October 2020. The Climate Change Strategy will set out a Statement of
for the water sector, primary
                                         Priorities, against which all AAPs must align. As this pilot WSAAP has been
production system and health and
                                         prepared ahead of the Climate Change Strategy, there is currently no
human services system during the
                                         Statement of Priorities with which to align this WSAAP. Instead, this WSAAP
period 2017–2020. The development
                                         responds to both the Act and Victoria’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan
of pilot AAPs will test the AAP model,
                                         2017–2020. The 2021 WSAAP will align with the Statement of Priorities in the
provide a learning opportunity
                                         Climate Change Strategy 2020.
for the Government and smooth
the path for the delivery of the         Policy objectives
legislated AAPs from 2021. The
Victorian Government selected            The Act includes five key objectives, of which objectives 2, 3 and 5 are
the water sector as the subject          addressed in this WSAAP.
of one of the pilot AAPs to help         Table 1.2: Three objectives of the Act are addressed by the WSAAP
coordinate and monitor existing
adaptation activities in the sector,                                                                       Included in
build on the initiatives in Water         Objective from the Act
                                                                                                           this WSAAP
for Victoria, and help Victoria’s
water sector to remain at the             1 Reduce the State’s greenhouse gas emissions
leading edge of climate change              consistent with the long-term emissions reduction
adaptation planning.                        target and interim emissions reduction targets.
The Act requires that all AAPs
                                          2 Build the resilience of the State’s infrastructure, built
                                            environment and communities through effective
1. A statement of the roles                 adaptation and disaster preparedness action.
   and responsibilities of the
   Government and other bodies in         3 Manage the State’s natural resources, ecosystems and
   relation to the water sector.            biodiversity to promote their resilience.
2. An assessment of the extent
   to which existing Victorian            4 Promote and support the State’s regions, industries
   Government water policies                and communities to adjust to the changes involved in
   address priorities of the relevant       the transition to a net zero greenhouse gas emissions
   climate change strategy.                 economy, including capturing new opportunities and
3. A list of further actions required       addressing any impacts arising from the need to reduce
   over the next five years that            greenhouse gas emissions across the economy.
   address any gaps between
   existing water policies of the         5 Support vulnerable communities and promote social
   climate change strategy.                 justice and intergenerational equity.

This WSAAP addresses these three         Although the third objective is addressed in this WSAAP, ecosystems
requirements through Sections            and biodiversity are out of its scope. Note also that the first and fourth
3, 4 and 5 respectively. As the          objectives are being addressed through the water corporations’
timeframe for this pilot WSAAP is        commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 42% by 2025. In
shorter than the future legislated       addition, the Victorian Government is working with local governments,
WSAAPs, the actions are set for          business and other partners to deliver a comprehensive set of actions
implementation over the next three       to reduce emissions, build the resilience of business and the community,
years (2018–2020), rather than the       and transition to a net-zero emissions economy. While neither is a focus
five years required by the Act.          of this WSAAP, the first objective is relevant in that the development of
                                         adaptation actions should not increase emissions, wherever possible.
                                         The greenhouse gas emissions footprints of all actions proposed in the
                                         WSAAP are in Appendix 4.

                                                             Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan   9
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

Guiding principles                        4. Equity – Actions should create      The Act also contains
                                             opportunities for the present and   six high level principles
The Act also contains six high level
                                             future generations to increase
principles that must be used in any
                                             their capacities to adapt to
                                                                                 that must be used in any
decision made by the Government,                                                 decision made by the
                                             climate change, particularly
and in any policy, program or
                                             the capacities of those people      Government, and in any
process developed or implemented.
These are shown below and in
                                             most vulnerable to the potential    policy, program or process
                                             impacts of climate change.          developed or implemented.
Table 1.3:
                                          5. Community engagement –
1. Informed decision-making –
                                             Actions should include providing
   Actions should be based on
                                             appropriate information and
   a comprehensive analysis of
                                             opportunities to the community.
   the best practicably available
                                             Actions should be developed
   information about the potential
                                             with adequate consultation with
   impacts of climate change.
                                             the community.
   Actions should consider the
   potential contribution to              6. Compatibility – Actions should
   the State’s greenhouse gas                seek to promote a coherent
   emissions.                                policy framework within the State
                                             and seek to achieve cohesion
2. Principle of integrated
                                             with the climate change
   decision-making – Actions
                                             actions of other States, the
   should integrate the competing
                                             Commonwealth, other countries
   long-term, medium-term and
                                             and international bodies.
   short-term environmental,
   economic, health and other             These principles have also been
   social considerations relating to      considered in the development
   climate change to ensure that          of this pilot WSAAP. Community
   all relevant issues are taken into     engagement specifically for this
   consideration, there is a proper       pilot WSAAP has been focused
   examination of all the issues, and     on industry and interest groups
   any actions are cost effective.        and researchers. Broader
3. Risk management – Actions              public consultation has not
   should be based on an                  been undertaken. Community
   assessment of the likelihood,          engagement on climate change
   consequence and risks of               has also been addressed through
   climate change. It is a guiding        the consultation undertaken for
   principle of the Act that a lack of    policy documents such as Water
   full scientific certainty should not   for Victoria. The water sector
   be used as a reason to postpone        organisations regularly consult
   the taking of action.                  their customers about their climate
                                          change activities. A draft of the
                                          legislated WSAAP in 2021 will be
                                          released for public comment.

10   Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

Table 1.3. How the objectives of this WSAAP relate to the guiding principles of the Act.

 Guiding principle                                               Objectives of this WSAAP

                                        1 – Build knowledge      2 – Develop frameworks,         3 – Enhance staff
                                                                      policy and tools         capability and capacity

 1 Informed decision-making

 2 Principle of integrated

 3 Risk management

 4 Equity

 5 Community engagement

 6 Compatibility

Victoria’s Climate Change                Water for Victoria                        This WSAAP focuses on how the
Adaptation Plan 2017–2020                                                          water sector should adapt to
                                         Water for Victoria was prepared
                                                                                   protect resilient and liveable cities
Victoria’s Climate Change                by the Victorian government in
                                                                                   and towns (Water for Victoria
Adaptation Plan 2017–2020 sets the       2016 as the water sector’s strategic
                                                                                   Chapter 5), Aboriginal values
following priorities to:                 forward-looking policy document.
                                                                                   (Water for Victoria Chapter 6)
• More effectively manage risks          Water for Victoria has set a long-
                                                                                   and recreational values (Water
  to the Government’s assets and         term plan for the water sector
                                                                                   for Victoria Chapter 7) as
  services from climate change.          that includes preparing for and
                                                                                   well as improving emergency
                                         responding to climate change.
• Help the community to                                                            management capability, which is
                                         According to Water for Victoria,
  understand and manage the                                                        in Water for Victoria Chapter 10:
                                         “the water sector will lead climate
  risks and potential impacts of                                                   Jobs, economy and innovation.
                                         change adaptation actions” arising
  climate change.                                                                  While aspects of waterway and
                                         from Victoria’s Climate Change
• Encourage adaptation action                                                      catchment health (Water for
                                         Adaptation Plan 2017–2020 and
  across all policy areas and                                                      Victoria Chapter 3) and water for
                                         the Act.
  sectors of the economy.                                                          agriculture (Water for Victoria
                                         Water for Victoria addresses              Chapter 4) are part of the broader
This WSAAP addresses the first
                                         five key values of water that are         context for this WSAAP, they
and the third of these priorities for
                                         important to the community:               are addressed in detail through
the water sector, and notes that
                                         • Chapter 3 – Waterway and                other AAPs.
each of the water sector agencies
                                            catchment health
already has their own community
engagement program which covers          • Chapter 4 – Water for agriculture
a variety of topics such as adapting     • Chapter 5 – Resilient and liveable
to water shortage and floods. There         cities and towns
will be opportunity to address the       • Chapter 6 – Recognising and
second priority in the legislated           managing for Aboriginal values
WSAAP, due in 2021.                      • Chapter 7 – Recognising
                                            recreational values

                                                              Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan     11
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

1.4. Scope
Defining the water sector
The Act defines the water sector, which is referred to in the Act as the ‘water cycle system’, as water supply,
sewerage, drainage and flood management. Therefore, this WSAAP focuses on these elements of the water sector,
and the relevant uses and values set out in Water for Victoria (Table 1.4).
Table 1.4. Elements of the water sector that are addressed in this WSAAP.

 Definition in the Act                      How this has been interpreted and considered in this WSAAP
 Water Supply

                The collection, storage, • All sources of water including recycled water and alternative sources
                treatment, delivery       • Availability and allocation of water for consumptive (urban, agricultural
                and supply of water,        and industrial), environmental, recreation and cultural uses
                including recycled water. • Water quality of all water sources used for consumptive purposes


                Sewerage services,          •   Sewage transport, pumping and treatment
                including the collection,   •   Sewage quality
                treatment and disposal      •   Recycled water treatment and quality
                of wastewater through       •   Sewerage assets, their planning, operations and management
                sewerage systems
                and wastewater
                treatment plants.


                Drainage services,          • Nuisance inundation in urban and rural drainage schemes
                including the operation
                of drainage systems.

 Flood management

                Flood management            • Overland flooding and riverine flooding
                services, including         • Sea level rise, storm surge and coastal flooding
                the operation and
                maintenance of
                infrastructure to
                mitigate floods.

 Common issues

                Common issues are not       • Adaptation to extreme events as well as long-term changes.
                defined in the Act, but     • Decision-making under uncertainty.
                have been addressed         • Built assets, their design, management, operation, renewal and
                in development of the         replacement.
                WSAAP to meet the Act’s     • Financial, risk, legal, insurance, reputational and regulatory compliance
                policy objectives and         issues.
                guiding principles.
                                            • Water sector contribution to urban liveability.
                                            • Community engagement.
                                            • Internal culture, business engagement and capability around adaptation.

12   Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

Relationship to other ‘systems’
This WSAAP is closely related to other systems including the natural environment, primary production, the built
environment, and health and human services.
7 systems
Figure        - scopes
       1.5. The           and
                 definitions ofelements   of water
                               the water sector AAPthat are incorporated
                                                   and other system AAPs in in
                                                                            theother  system
                                                                                Act (top         AAPs.
                                                                                         line), and how each is
expected to incorporate water-related topics.

 Water                 Primary                 Natural     Built       Health                                     Education &            Transport
                       production              environment environment & human                                    training
Defined as the         Defined as (a) the      Defined as land,      Defined as the        Defined as the         Defined as the         Defined as all the
collection, storage,   growing and             water over that       places and            services and assets    services and           components for the
treatment, delivery    cultivation of          land, and the soils   structures built or   primarily engaged in   assets                 movement of
and supply of all      horticultural and       and biodiversity      developed for         protecting human       primarily engaged      persons and goods,
water sources,         other crops,            associated with       human occupations,    health from disease    in the planning,       including (a)
sewerage, drainage     including plantation    that land; coastal    use and enjoyment,    resulting from or      development,           physical
services, and flood    forestry and farm       water and the land    including cities,     associated with        provision and          components,
management             forestry; and (b) the   under those waters,   buildings, urban      communicable           support of             including transport
services.              controlled breeding,    and the ecological    spaces, housing       disease, food, water   education and          networks, facilities
                       raising or farming      processes and         and infrastructure,   or the environment;    training, including    and vehicles and
                       of animals, and         systems associated    and how people        and the services       future workplace       (b) services
                       the infrastructure,     with the things set   interact with that    and assets which       skills and needs.      components,
                       workforce and           out above.            system.               provide human                                 including
                       communities                                                         physical and mental                           passenger, freight
                       supporting                                                          health care, social                           and other transport
                       (a) and (b).                                                        support and                                   services to move
                                                                                           assistance.                                   persons and goods.

Includes sea level     On-farm use of          Waterway health,      Sea level rise and    Regulation of          Public eduction on     Flooding and
rise and storm         water, water            biodiversity and      storm surge           drinking water         climate change         drainage
surge impacts on       quality and water       ecology; naturally    impacts on places     quality; public                               implications of
water sector assets;   efficiency              occuring wetlands;    and structures not    health benefit that                           transport
integrated water       measures; impact        the benefits of       owned by the          comes from                                    infrastructure
management.            of water availability   environmental         water sector not      irrigated recreation                          design
                       on irrigated            water; land           owned by the          and sports fields;
                       farmers and their       management            water sector          supply of water to
                       communities                                                         communities in an
                          These topics are all relevant to the water sector, but are expected to be addressed through the other system AAPs

                       Allocation and          Allocation and        Sea level and         Management of          Education and          Management of
                       supply of water for     delivery of           storm surge           drinking water         training of the        flooding and
                       irrigation, stock       environmental         impacts on water      quality; use of        water industry staff   drainage
                       and domestic            water; constructed    sector assets         water for irrigation   and customers          infrastructure;
                       purposes to the         wetlands in an                              of public land         relating to climate    operations of water
                       farm gate; rural        urban                                       such as parks,         change impacts         sector assets when
                       drainage                environmental                               recreational areas     on water sector        transport access
                                                                                           and sports fields      services               is compromised

                                               These topics are all part of the WSAAP, and have relevance to the other systems

                                                                                Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan                    13
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

Some potential impacts of climate         Some topics are closely related to       This WSAAP provides a clear
change impact many systems, such          water but will be covered by other       signal to the leaders preparing
as the coastal impacts of climate         system AAPs. For example:                AAPs for other systems in the Act,
change, arising from sea level rise,      • The primary production AAP will        on the scope of actions. Any gaps
storm surges and coastal erosion.           cover issues relating to on-farm       or duplications between these
Another issue common to many                water use. The climate change          systems will be addressed by the
or all system AAPs is community             threats associated with this           DELWP Climate Change Division
consultation, engagement and                activity are best considered with      before the first legislated AAPs are
building a social licence for               other on-farm processes.               prepared by 2021.
challenging adaptation decisions.         • The natural environment AAP
The DELWP Climate Change Policy             is likely to include waterway
Division is leading programs to             health, catchment vegetation
address these overlapping and               and rural wetlands on both public
cross-sector issues. These issues           and private land. This includes
will also be considered in the              water quantity and quality for
development of legislated AAPs              environmental, biological and
for 2021.                                   ecological purposes.
                                          • The health and human services
                                            AAP and/or the built environment
                                            AAP are likely to address the
                                            broader issues associated with
                                            urban heat and community
                                            health through urban design.
                                          The scope and interactions of
                                          future AAPs under the Act will be
                                          reviewed after the finalisation of the
                                          pilot AAPs and before the legislated
                                          AAPs are prepared in 2021. Figure
                                          1.5 shows the relationship between
                                          the AAPs.

14   Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

          This WSAAP provides a clear
       signal to the leaders preparing
         AAPs for other systems in the
      Act, on the scope of actions. Any
        gaps or duplications between
   these systems will be addressed by
  the DELWP Climate Change Division
    before the first legislated AAPs are
                       prepared by 2021.

              Photo: Glenelg River.
              Photographer Craig Moodie.

Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan   15
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

2. The climate change challenge

Climate change impacts on the                    Figure 2.3 shows that rainfall during the cooler months of the year (April
water sector were described in                   to October) has declined across Victoria. This is particularly significant
Water for Victoria. They include:                for water availability as the cooler months are the ones in which the water
• Sea level rise                                 storages receive most of their inflows. Rainfall during the warmer months
• Reduced rainfall                               of the year is not as effective at filling water storages, as more of the rain
• Increased frequency of extreme                 that falls is lost in evaporation, uptake by vegetation, and soil wetting.
  temperature, rainfall and storms               Any increase in rainfall during the warmer months is not expected to
                                                 compensate for the reductions in rainfall during the cooler months, since
• Increased average temperatures
                                                 rainfall during warmer months does not usually generate sustained inflows
                                                 to storages.
2.1 Climate change                               Figure 2.1. Summary of Victoria’s changing climate, showing changes
in Victoria                                      already experienced (left) and likely future changes (right).

Observed changes                                                                        In the future Victoria can expect:
Victoria has already experienced                   Victoria is already                       More hot days.       Harsher fire weather,
increasing temperatures and                        experiencing the impacts                  Mildura could have   longer fire seasons
                                                   of climate change:                        up to 30 more
decreasing rainfall since the                                                                days above 35oC
mid-20th century (Figures 2.1 and                                                            per year by 2070              Less autumn,
                                                                                                                           winter and spring
2.2.) Average annual rainfall has                                                                                          rainfall north of the
                                                                   INCREASE                                                Great Dividing Range
reduced across all parts of Victoria,                              temperature               Temperatures
                                                                                             to increase
since 1950, impacting all our water                                across state              1.1-3.3oC year
supply catchments. Temperatures                                    since 1950                round by 2070

have increased by around 1ºC
across Victoria and up to 1.6ºC in
south-west Victoria over the same                                  South West
period (Figure 2.2). Other observed                                Victoria                  Fewer frosts
                                                                   up to 1.6oC
changes include:                                                   WARMER
• Stream flow in some Victorian                                                                                       Less winter and spring
   rivers has reduced drastically                                                                                     rainfall south of the
                                                                                             Increased                Great Dividing Range
                                                                                             frequency and
   since the mid-1990s in                                                                    height of storm
                                                                  Average rainfall
   association with the Millennium                                DECREASED
                                                                                             surge and high
                                                                                                                  Rising sea level
   Drought (Figure 2.3), and some                                 in all parts of
   catchments have never returned                                 Victoria                                                 Warmer and more
                                                                                                                           acidic oceans
   to their pre-drought yield since
   the end of the drought.
• Sea level around the coast of
   Australia has risen by an average
   of 2.1 mm per year since the
• Heatwaves in Melbourne occur,
   on average, 17 days earlier and
   are 1.5°C hotter than between

2 Grose, M. et al., 2015, Southern Slopes Cluster Report, In Climate Change in Australia:
  Projections for Australia’s Natural Resource Management Regions: Cluster Reports,
  eds Ekström, M. et al., CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology, Australia
3 Steffan W., 2015, Quantifying the Impact of Climate Change on Extreme Heat in Australia,
  Climate Council of Australia

16   Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

 Figure 2.3

 Rainfall received during the cooler months
 of the year (April–October) has declined
 Figure  Victoria
 Figure 2.2: Victoria’s temperatures have been steadily increasing for decades. This trend is consistent with global
 Annual    mean trends. Victorian temperature
                    temperature      anomaliesdatafor
                                                   sourced  from have
                                                      Victoria   Bureaufollowed
                                                                         of Meteorology,
                                                                                   globalglobal temperature data
 sourced from World Meterological Organisation.


                                                                                                                              Figure 2.3
Mean temperature anomaly

                            0.5ºC                                                                                             Rainfall received during the cooler months
                                                                                                                              of the year (April–October) has declined
                                                                                                                              across Victoria



                                                                          Figure 2.3

                                                                          Rainfall received during the cooler months
                                                                          of the year (April–October) has declined
                           -1.0ºC                                         across Victoria                                     1986–1995

                                                                                                                                                  Global temperature
                                                                                                                                                  5 year rolling average

                           -1.5ºC                                                                                                                   2000











 Figure 2.3

 Rainfall received
 Figure            duringreceived
          2.3. Rainfall   the coolerduring
                                     monthsthe cooler months of the year (April to October) has declined across Victoria.
 of the year (April–October) has declined
 Data sourced from the Bureau of Meteorology through the Victorian Climate Initiative (VicCI)
 across Victoria                                                          1986–1995                                           1996–2005


   1986–1995                                                              1996–2005                                           2006–2015

                           Highest on record                                                                                        Highest on record

                           Very much above average
                                                                                                                                    Very much above average
                                                                                                                                    Above average
                           Above average                                                                                            Average
                           Average (relative to the long term record 1900-2016)                                                     Below average
                                                                                                                                    Very much below average
                           Below average
                                                                                                                                    Lowest on record
                           Very much below average
   1996–2005                                                              2006–2015
                           Lowest on record
                                                                                                   Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan            17
                                                                                   Highest on record
                                                                                   Very much above average
                                                                                   Above average
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

Projected changes                                   Figure 2.4. Some plausible future climates of Victorian cities and towns,
                                                    matched with the current climate (comparing annual temperature and
Projections of future global trends
                                                    rainfall settings) experienced in another location (climate analogues), for a
in climate are wide-ranging and
                                                    world that is 4°C warmer than pre-industrial.
affected by factors such as carbon
                                                    For example, Melbourne’s future climate is anticipated to be similar to the
emissions and feedback loops.
                                                    current climate of Dubbo in New South Wales. There is uncertainty around
Based on climate modelling,
                                                    future emissions as well as their impact on future climate, which mean that
average annual stream flow
                                                    other future scenarios with more extreme climate change, or less extreme
reductions of around 50% could
                                                    change, are also very plausible. This map also shows one point in time, after
occur in some catchments by the
                                                    which the climate will still continue changing. (Independent Expert Panel on
year 2065 in Victoria4. Climate
                                                    Interim Targets, ‘Issues paper: Independent Expert Panel: Interim Emissions
change could also result in more
                                                    Reduction Targets for Victoria (2021-2030)’, DELWP (2017))
extreme events than in the past.
Climate analogues can illustrate                            • Amata
some possible future climates
of specific cities and towns by
matching their possible future
climates to locations that                                                                                                      • Narrabri
currently have similar rainfall
and temperature. Figure 2.4                                                                                         • Cobar
                                                                                                                              • Dubbo
shows plausible analogue
cities for Victoria under a 4°C
warming scenario, which may be                                                                                                • Cowra
                                                                                                       • Mildura
experienced around 2100 under                                                                                             • Wagga Wagga
a high greenhouse gas emissions
trajectory. It highlights that changes                                                                 Shepparton    • Albury-Wodonga
in temperature and rainfall will                                                           Horsham •         • Bendigo
be different in different parts of                                                              Ballarat • Melbourne
Victoria, and so will the likely threats                                                         Geelong • •        • Lakes Entrance
                                                                                                               • Traralgan
of climate change.                                                                       Warrnambool

Most of Victoria’s water sources are                Source: Climate Change in Australia, Climate analogues website:
climate-dependent, so planning for                  www.climatechangeinaustralia.gov.au/en/climate-projections/climate-analogues/about-analogues/.
                                                    DELWP’s Guidelines for Assessing the Impact of Climate Change on Water
a range of future climate change                    Supplies in Victoria can inform many potential future climate change
scenarios is important.                             scenarios to enable water sector staff to make better decisions regarding
                                                    supply of water resources. These guidelines can also help DELWP and the
                                                    water sector manage for the range of potential climatic changes.

4 Potter, N.J., Chiew, F.H.S., Zheng, H., Ekström, M. and Zhang, L. 2016. Hydroclimate projections for Victoria at 2040
  and 2065. CSIRO publishing, 58 pp. https://publications.csiro.au/rpr/pub?pid=csiro:EP161427

18   Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

Putting Climate Science into Practice – Guidelines for Assessing the
Impact of Climate Change on Water Supplies in Victoria
                                                          The Guidelines for Assessing the Impact of Climate Change on Water Supplies in
                                                          Victoria are a key resource for equipping the water sector with the most up-to-
     Guidelines for Assessing the
     Impact of Climate Change on                          date understanding of climate change and associated threats to water resources.
     Water Supplies in Victoria
    FINAL, December 2016              V7.0                They provide projections for long-term changes in temperature, potential
                                                          evaporation, rainfall, runoff and recharge, which are to be used by water
                                                          corporations across Victoria to model the impact of climate change on water
                                                          supplies. Application of the guidelines will help protect Victoria’s water security.
                                                          DELWP developed these guidelines from the findings of the Victorian Climate
                                                          Initiative, which included modelling from the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).
                                                          Figure 2.5 shows how Barwon Water has used the guidelines to inform a range of
                                                          supply and demand scenarios. Such graphs can be used to inform the timing of
                                                          actions required to maintain service levels.
Figure 2.5: Forecast balance between water supply and demand for the Greater Geelong system (Barwon
Water’s Urban Water Strategy (2017), reproduced with permission).

  Water demand and yield (ML/a)




                                                              Earliest year level of                                    Median year level of
                                                             service no longer met                                     service no longer met
                                         2016    2020        2026            2032          2038         2044         2050        2056            2062
                                                                         Financial year ending June

                                                Water demand scenarios                 Medium demand

                                                System yield scenarios                 Medium yield

The guidelines are also useful to others involved in the water sector, including waterway managers,
environmental water holders and local governments. The application of the guidelines among the wider
water sector provides a consistent approach to assessing the impact of climate change on water availability
across Victoria.
Building on the success of these guidelines for water supply, this WSAAP commits to developing guidelines to
address the impact of climate change on sewerage services (see Section 5).

                                                                                            Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan    19
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

2.2. Impacts of climate
change on the water
                                           Impact on water quality
Observed impacts
As explained in Section 2.1, Victoria      Deterioration of water quality as a result of climate change, such
has already experienced some               as through higher temperatures, drought, bushfires, floods and
changes in climate. These have             storms, can pose threats to human health. Infection may occur from
impacted the water sector and its          contamination of a variety of water sources such as drinking water
customers in various ways. Some            supply, water bodies used for recreation, alternative water sources,
of these impacts are illustrated           waterways or marine waters (the latter two are out of scope of this
through case studies. This mix of          WSAAP). In some water systems, the location, capacity and design of
case studies covers some direct            treatment plants may need to be reconsidered.
impacts of climate changes, some
                                           For example, blue green algae blooms occur naturally in waterways
of the impacts of extreme events
                                           and storages throughout Victoria. Some strains of the algae are toxic
that are exacerbated by climate
                                           to humans and livestock.
change, and some impacts that
climate change has on community            In mid-February 2016 a major algal outbreak was detected in the
values associated with water.              Murray River extending 1,450 km from Hume Dam to just downstream
                                           of Wentworth. This was one of the longest lasting blooms in the Murray,
                                           lasting more than 12 weeks and impacting many river communities.
                                           The warmer average temperatures that year and low rainfall are
                                           thought to have contributed to this protracted outbreak. Other
                                           experiences in the Victorian water sector in recent years have shown
                                           that blue-green algae outbreaks may now occur in water bodies that
                                           haven’t experienced blooms in the past, and in cooler months when
                                           they weren’t expected in the past. Warmer, drier average conditions
                                           anticipated under climate change may lead to algal blooms that are
                                           more frequent or extensive, or occur in unexpected locations.

                                         Photograph: Blue-green algae bloom in the Murray River, 2016. Source: anonymous.

20 Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

Impacts of bushfires                                                             Impact of changing
Bushfires are likely to be more frequent and intense with climate
change, posing an increased threat to water security. Fires can burn
                                                                                 In some parts of the State, the
natural assets such as vegetation and infrastructure assets such
                                                                                 amount and timing of snowmelt
as pumping stations, pipes, storages or treatment plants. For many
                                                                                 impacts stream flow and water
months after bushfires, ash and sediment washed into reservoirs
                                                                                 supplies, including some urban
can affect the quality and quantity of water supplies, potentially
                                                                                 supplies. In particular, snow
rendering them unusable. Or in some cases, water may continue to
                                                                                 acts as a store of precipitation
be supplied to customers but at reduced quality, which may cause
                                                                                 in winter, which is released
inconvenience. Reservoirs are also threatened by debris flows, which
                                                                                 to waterways in spring, filling
are typically triggered by intense rainfall and more likely to occur in
                                                                                 water storages in preparation
post-fire landscapes.
                                                                                 for peak summer demand.
Even after reservoirs recover from these direct impacts, in some                 More work is needed to
situations forests that are regrowing after a bushfire might intercept           quantify the likely future impact
and use more runoff than established forests. The reduction in runoff            of reduced snow and snowmelt
reaching reservoirs can last for many years. This means reduced total            on Victoria’s water supplies.
water available for water users.
DELWP and the water sector manage bushfire threats by undertaking
strategic planned burns, maintaining fire breaks and roads for
firefighters, and identifying fires as quickly as possible.
Current research by Melbourne Water and the University of Melbourne
is investigating the impacts of bushfires on long-term water yield and
short-term water quality under climate change.

                                                                               Bushfires are likely to be
                                                                               more frequent and intense
                                                                               with climate change,
                                                                               posing an increased
                                                                               threat to water security.
                                                                               Fires can burn natural
                                                                               assets such as vegetation
                                                                               and infrastructure
                                                                               assets such as pumping
                                                                               stations, pipes, storages or
                                                                               treatment plants.

                                                          Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan   21
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

     Impacts of storms                                            Impacts of drought on
     The intensity of extreme rainfall events is projected
                                                                  water availability
     to increase with climate change, and lead to higher
                                                                  Between 1997 and 2009, Victoria experienced
     costs and more disruption to essential water
                                                                  unprecedented dry conditions – a period now
     services. Storms can cause damage and disruption
                                                                  known as the Millennium Drought. These 13
     in many ways, such as through intense rainfall,
                                                                  consecutive years of drought, including the lowest
     flooding and high winds. They can also bring storm
                                                                  annual inflows to storages recorded (2006/07),
     surges, which may overwhelm sewerage systems
                                                                  resulted in conditions well outside the boundaries
     and increase contaminant runoff from catchments,
                                                                  in which the water supply systems and water
     polluting water supplies and waterways. Storms
                                                                  sharing rules across Victoria were designed to
     can wash debris into water supply catchments and
                                                                  operate. By the 2006/07 summer, many areas
     rivers that impact water quality.
                                                                  faced severe water shortages. Water customers
     Storm damage to the Sydney Desalination Plant is             were impacted through water restrictions, loss
     an example of how some of Victoria’s water sector            of plants in recreational areas, sports grounds
     assets could be affected in future. In December              and gardens, and impacts on agriculture and
     2015, the Sydney Desalination Plant was hit by a             other businesses such as nurseries, whose sales
     very severe storm. The strongest maximum wind                dropped as customers’ irrigation was restricted.
     gust ever recorded in NSW (213 km/h) occurred                These water shortages were more extreme than
     at the site, which the Bureau of Meteorology                 envisaged possible when water entitlements were
     confirmed was consistent with a tornado.                     developed, and the effectiveness of Victoria’s water
                                                                  management frameworks was tested.
     The storm caused significant damage to several
     roofs, the control room, electricity transformers and        The experience of managing water resources for all
     other parts of the facility. It has been undergoing          competing uses during the Millennium Drought was
     major repairs.                                               influenced by the complex interaction of:
                                                                  • climatic conditions (that is, patterns and
     As a critical piece of infrastructure, the desalination
                                                                    reliability of rainfall across Victoria)
     plant should be ready to help secure Sydney’s
     drinking water supply when needed. However, it has           • physical water systems (nature of supply
     been unavailable for three years during its repairs.           infrastructure and natural waterways)
                                                                  • water sharing arrangements (secure water
     Victoria can put in place safeguards and a disaster            entitlements and trade)
     preparedness plan to mitigate damage that
                                                                  • water planning arrangements (preparedness in
     could occur in this State so that water security
                                                                    the short and long term)
     is optimised.
                                                                  • demand for water for different purposes
                                                                    (domestic use including gardens, rural
                                                                    consumption including irrigation, stock and
                                                                    environmental water.).
                                                                  While the Millennium Drought was in part caused
                                                                  by natural variability with limited climate change
                                                                  impact, climate science indicates that we should
                                                                  expect longer and more frequent drought in future.

22     Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan
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