Programs and initiatives

Better Bays and Waterways

Better Bays and Waterways is the water quality improvement plan for the Port Phillip and Western Port region.

More than 90 actions have been pulled together in the five-year plan as part of an unprecedented approach by all levels of government to improving Melbourne’s bays and waterways.

Better Bays and Waterways, developed by EPA Victoria and Melbourne Water, sets out the actions of more than 30 organisations including local government, five Victorian Government agencies, research institutions and community groups.

The $5 million plan, jointly funded by the Australian Government, EPA Victoria and Melbourne Water, describes the values, threats and current condition of the region's catchments, waterways and Port Phillip and Western Port bays.

The plan outlines 93 actions, across 15 focus areas, aimed at reducing the amount of pollutants entering waterways and bays from rural, urban and coastal areas.

The actions, with a total investment of almost $300 million, include:

  • urban wetlands: reduce amount of pollutant loads from Melbourne’s suburbs by building wetlands, including the $15 million Scoresby project
  • 10,000 raingardens: a program to help Melbourne residents to build raingardens, which remove pollutants from stormwater before it enters drains
  • Rural Land Program – efficient use of fresh water and wastewater on farms, and stock and crop exclusion from waterways, gullies and natural wetlands
  • Western Port Research Coordination – a study into the effect of human activity on the Western Port marine environment.

EPA Victoria Chairperson Cheryl Batagol PSM said the plan identified urban stormwater as the biggest polluter of the regions bays and waterways.

‘Stormwater run-off from suburban streets and gutters is the number one polluter because of what it picks up and carries into rivers and creeks,’ said Ms Batagol.

A snapshot of the Better Bays and Waterways plan

Focus area Number of actions and example
Rural water quality program 5 actions – E.g., fencing and revegetating stream frontages and helping farmers implement practices to protect water quality.
Understanding and managing urban pollution 8 actions – Revise urban stormwater management standards; ensure compliance across all urban development.
Managing urban development 10 actions – Build urban wetlands to reduce existing stormwater pollutant loads to waterways and the bays.
Managing potentially polluting activities 8 actions – Accelerate programs to sewer areas still serviced by septic systems.
Managing litter 5 actions – Lower Yarra Litter Strategy
Addressing direct sources of pollution (point source management) 3 actions – Assess compliance of licensed discharges and take action to address issues.
Bushfire rehabilitation 8 actions – Range of actions to minimise effects of February 2009 bushfires on waterways.
Environmental flows 4 actions – Review flow objectives and requirements for Little River by 2013.
Marine environment 4 actions – Re-establish shoreline vegetation in targeted areas, especially mangroves on Western Port shorelines identified as at risk of erosion.
Bay monitoring 5 actions – Put in place a framework to monitor and report on the health of the bays.
River and creek monitoring 10 actions – Undertake faecal contamination monitoring in the Yarra, Maribyrnong and Patterson rivers and Mordialloc Creek to assess impact on recreational activities.
Research and investigation 12 actions – Undertake research on the effectiveness of natural and constructed stormwater treatment systems.
Community engagement 3 actions – Continue educational programs run by Melbourne Water at schools and festivals to promote understanding of water quality.
Governance 2 actions – Establish a coordinating committee to oversee the implementation of Better Bays and Waterways action plan.
Reporting, evaluation, review 6 actions – Annually report on the implementation of Better Bays and Waterways actions

For further information on Better Bays and Waterways, contact us.

Page last updated on 23 Aug 2019