Water use and water quality

Find out how Council is conserving our water supply and improving the quality of water entering Port Phillip Bay.

Victoria’s temperature has steadily increased since the 1970s and overall, water in rivers and streams has decreased by around 50 per cent over the last 20 years. 2019 was Victoria’s hottest and driest year on record.

The CSIRO Victorian Climate Projections tell us that, in Greater Melbourne, there is likely to be 9% less rainfall by 2030 and 20% less rainfall by 2090. Winter rainfall will decrease, and rainfall will come in more intense downpours.

The combined challenges of climate change and population growth mean that Council must find new and innovative ways to manage water.

Council’s Water Sensitive Urban Design Programs

Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) is a term used to describe how to manage the whole water cycle to avoid, or at least minimise, the environmental impacts of urbanisation and climate change on the water cycle.

There are a number of ways we use water sensitive urban design to conserve water and improve water quality in Port Phillip.


We have installed over 200 raingardens to improve the quality of water entering Port Phillip Bay.

Raingardens are a natural filtration system that cleans stormwater runoff from the street before it enters our stormwater drains and eventually the bay. Raingardens help improve water quality by trapping litter and filtering invisible pollutants.  Once clean, the water leaves the raingarden through a pipe below the soil into the stormwater drain and then into the bay.

Raingardens are also used to slow the flow of stormwater to protect aquatic habitats and reduce the risk of flooding.

Raingarden in Park Road, Middle Park

Stormwater Harvesting to irrigate our parks

Stormwater harvesting systems collect, clean and store stormwater for reuse, generally for irrigation. Using stormwater from our drains means we can save precious drinking water. These systems also reduce the flow of water and pollutants entering our waterways and the bay.

Council uses stormwater for irrigation from two stormwater harvesting schemes.

The Elsternwick Park Stormwater Harvesting Scheme (a partnership with Bayside City Council) allows us to use up to 30 million litres of harvested stormwater to irrigate Elwood Park annually.

In 2019, we completed the Alma Park Stormwater Harvesting Scheme, which can deliver up to 18 million litres of water for use in Alma Park.

Not only do these schemes provide significant reductions to Council’s mains water consumption, they also provide resilience in times of drought and cleanse stormwater, contributing significantly to the protection of the Bay.

Alma Park Stormwater Harvesting Scheme during construction in 2019.

Water Efficiency

To conserve our drinking water, City of Port Phillip has installed water tanks on Council buildings,  water-efficient appliances and fittings in our buildings, and is improving how we manage our irrigation network to keep our parks and open spaces green more efficiently.


To help reduce flooding, we find ways to minimise the amount of stormwater entering the drainage system from hard surfaces such as roads, footpaths and roofs by removing concrete and asphalt where possible, and directing water to irrigate trees and vegetation instead.

We also hope to use the future recycled water network, planned for Fishermans Bend, to irrigate parks, trees and vegetation in the surrounding area.


Water sensitive design in new developments

Council’s Planning Scheme requires planning applicants to demonstrate how the proposed development incorporates best practice water sensitive urban design by submitting a Stormwater Management Assessment.

You can find out more about sustainability in the planning process on Council's Sustainable Design webpage.