The Water Cycle Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan is one of 7 plans prepared by the Victorian Government for 7 statewide systems. The plans will help ensure Victoria’s climate resilience, now and into the future.

The challenge

The Water Cycle system involves the collection, storage, treatment, delivery and supply of water, as well as services for managing wastewater, drainage and flooding. The impacts of climate change are already being felt across the Water Cycle system and are likely to increase. As Victoria becomes warmer and drier, less runoff will reach rivers, streams, dams, and groundwater. Addressing the impacts of climate change is important due to our reliance on climate-dependent sources of water found in reservoirs, rivers, lakes and groundwater.

Victoria’s water corporations operate and maintain more than $48 billion of infrastructure, with asset lives of up to 100 years. Climate change sits alongside other pressures on water resources, such as population growth and changing economic conditions. If we don’t adapt effectively to climate change, we could experience:

  • less water available for the environment, community and businesses
  • increased prices for water services
  • damage to the infrastructure needed for essential water and wastewater services
  • restrictions on the water for recreation and private gardens
  • drainage being overwhelmed, increasing flood damage and sewer spills
  • peaks in water demand during heatwaves that could exceed the capacity of available water.

The Water Cycle system is also central to many opportunities to address climate change – for example, through converting wastewater to energy to support a circular economy, or through recycling, water to augment the existing water supply. Nature-based solutions can also offer multiple benefits – for example, planting vegetation along waterways can reduce flood impacts, improve water quality and help shade the surrounding environment.

Work already underway

  • Providing leadership on water and adaptation through Water for Victoria (the long-term plan for the water sector) and the Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan 2018–2020.
  • Investing more than $2.7 billion in water infrastructure over the past decade to improve water efficiency and reliability in regional communities.
  • Preparing an annual water outlook to inform the community on the management of different water uses under forecast conditions.
  • Providing hydrology and climate science for Victoria’s water sector and supporting citizen science.
  • Delivering regional catchment strategies that prioritise ongoing stewardship of catchments through local and regional partnerships between catchment management authorities, Traditional Owners and the broader community.
  • Implementing urban water strategies and drought preparedness plans developed by urban water corporations to manage systems during extremely dry periods and water quality events.
  • Collaborating with industry to invest in improved knowledge, pilot new technologies and stress-test the water grid.
  • Collaborating on place-based management of all elements of the water cycle through integrated water management forums.
  • Providing rebates and education campaigns for vulnerable customers, schools and communities to use water more efficiently and save on water bills.
  • Coordinating state-level responses to manage algal blooms.
  • Improving the resilience of water and flood monitoring stations as part of Victoria’s Bushfire Recovery Plan.
  • Financing investments in water corporations using green bonds, primarily to reduce emissions through treatment plant upgrades and renewable energy installation.

Key priorities ahead

The next 5 years (2022–2026) will be focused on integrating climate change adaptation across all aspects of the Water Cycle system.

  • Investigate ways to diversify and augment water supplies, including by enabling greater use of stormwater and recycled water.
  • Examine co-investment opportunities to deliver water infrastructure with the community, private investors and government partners.
  • Enhance climate-related hazard and risk assessment capabilities to support water infrastructure planning, design and investment decisions.
  • Identify opportunities to strengthen the water sector’s emergency capability, systems and processes for resource sharing.
  • Prioritise greater Traditional Owner participation in water cycle adaptation.
  • Explore new water efficiency standards for homes and review existing building and plumbing requirements for rainwater tanks and water efficiency.
  • Promote innovation to reduce Victoria's water-related emissions across households and businesses, build climate resilience and transition to a circular economy, including by trialling measures to reduce water-related energy use.

Further information: access the full plan


The Water Cycle Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan will be delivered over the next 5 years (2022–2026), then updated every 5 years on the path to 2050.

Read the Adaptation Action Plan for the Water Cycle system (PDF, 7.5 MB)
Read the Adaptation Action Plan for the Water Cycle system accessible version (DOCX, 8.2 MB)

Page last updated: 12/08/22