Active projects

Theme A : Waterway health planning tools

Spatial prioritization of management actions for biodiversity outcomes in streams and wetlands

Project A1: Prioritization

This project builds on existing spatial planning tools used for the new Healthy Waterways Strategy that allow different planning options and their associated costs and outcomes to be evaluated and prioritized. It will develop Habitat Suitability Models for wetlands to provide a similar level of rigour to wetland planning decisions, as well as strengthening the existing stream models with the incorporation of new spatial datasets and environmental predictors.
Project lead: Yung En Chee. Expected date of completion: October 2023.
Project Summary

Testing critical assumptions of interventions and outcomes, and designing effective, efficient biodiversity monitoring to support strategy implementation

Project A2: MERI

This project will support the overarching Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting and Improvement (MERI) plan for the Healthy Waterways Strategy. It will help identify critical assumptions between management interventions, environmental conditions and key values. The focus will be on two key interventions (riparian revegetation and billabong environmental watering) for which there is high investment by Melbourne Water but low confidence in the outcomes.
Project lead: Yung En Chee. Expected date of completion: October 2023.
Project Summary

Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting and Improvement (MERI) for Riparian Revegetation

Project A2a: Revegetation Sub-project

This project will update conceptual Healthy Waterways Strategy models for riparian vegetation; extend long-term data on vegetation composition, structure, and dynamics at selected works sites; and develop a fit-for-purpose riparian revegetation intervention monitoring method. The aim is to improve understanding of the outcomes of riparian revegetation programs and the drivers of success, in light of the region’s climatic, physiographic and land use variability.
Project lead: Sacha Jellineck. Expected date of completion: October 2023.
Project Summary

Birrarung’s billabongs: vegetation response to environmental watering

Project A2b: Billabongs Sub-project

In a collaboration with the Wurundjeri Woi wurrung Corporation’s Narrap Unit, this project aims to monitor and assess vegetation responses to natural and managed flooding at billabongs along the lower Birrarung (Yarra River). The aim being to refine recommended watering regimes and inform their adaptive management.
Project lead: Joe Greet. Expected date of completion: October 2023.
Project Summary

Geomorphic change & disturbance thresholds for the protection or recovery of stream form in urban catchments

Project A3: Channel Prediction

The project will develop: 1) an understanding of the change in stream physical form relative to urbanisation, 2) a tool to assist with planning and development applications to identify the extent of impacts of various development scenarios, and 3) the level of intervention required to achieve post-development, sustainable physical form capable of supporting values. This project will highlight gaps in our knowledge to be filled, and ultimately enable a more quantitative approach to physical form management for the next Healthy Waterway Strategy.
Project lead: Geoff Vietz. Expected date of completion: October 2021.
Project Summary

Improving stream management using ecological modelling and DNA barcodes

Project A4: DNA Barcodes

The project will develop high-quality species-level macroinvertebrate datasets through DNA metabarcoding. It will combine these datasets with purpose-built, ecologically relevant environmental data to create habitat suitability models (HSMs), that will enable spatially continuous estimates of species’ occurrence, and fine-grained mapping of biodiversity patterns at unsampled locations across the entire stream network. These HSMs will allow modelling of likely species’ responses to future threats such as climate change, urban growth and their interactions, as well as their responses to management actions such as stormwater management and riparian revegetation. Collectively, these tools will underpin data-driven scenario analysis, planning and prioritisation for conservation, monitoring and adaptive management of Melbourne’s streams.
Project lead: Chris Walsh. Expected date of completion: October 2023.
Project Summary

Theme B : Waterway hydrology and geomorphology

Urban flow ecology: Investigating relationships between flow, channel form, vegetation and ecosystem function

Project B1: Flow Ecology

This research will investigate how key aspects of the urban flow regime influence channel form and instream environmental values, with an initial focus on instream vegetation. The project will: 1) develop key instream vegetation species habitat preference curves based on velocity, depth and substrate type, 2) identify key life-history stages that limit instream plant recruitment, 3) identify flow regime characteristics that explain limitations to instream vegetation establishment and 4) identify linkages between flow and instream vegetation in streams with varying catchment characteristics and anthropogenic impacts.
Project lead: Moss Imberger. Expected date of completion: October 2023.
Project Summary

Major sources and fate of sediments in streams, wetlands, estuaries and bays to inform management opportunities.

Project B2: Sediment Budget

This project builds on recent MWRPP and CSIRO (dSednet catchment sediment model for Westernport) research on sediment budgets across the region by validating the contributions of different land uses, including sediment generation from the construction of new urban areas.
Project lead: Kathy Russell. Expected date of completion: October 2021.
Project Summary

Optimizing constructed wetland design, management and performance prediction

Project B3: Constructed Wetlands

This project aims to inform revisions to guidelines and practice for wetland planning, design and construction, modelling and maintenance, and to inform policy regarding investments in wetland constructions and renewals. This includes answering the question as to which stormwater control measures provide the greatest community benefit relative to cost.
Project lead: Chris Szota. Expected date of completion: October 2023.
Project Summary

Theme C : Urban stormwater and rural runoff management for waterway health

How can retention, use and treatment of urban stormwater protect or provide natural flow regimes for waterway health?

Project C1: Urban Flows

Aims to test if stormwater runoff from urban developments can be adequately retained, used and treated to protect or restore stream ecosystem structure and function. Building on the Little Stringybark Creek project, this mix of studies investigates the potential for stream restoration in existing urban catchments (Little Stringybark and Monbulk Creek catchments) and for stream protection from greenfield developments (Sunbury).
Project lead: Chris Walsh. Expected date of completion: October 2023.
Project Summary

Redesigning streetscapes to protect streams and grow the urban forest.

Project C5: Street Trees

This project aims to develop new streetscape designs that will significantly reduce runoff volumes generated by road catchments. It will also provide guidance to the industry and local government required for a radical shift away from conventionally built roads and associated drainage networks.
Project lead: Chris Szota. Expected date of completion: October 2023.
Project Summary

Optimised real-time monitoring and control of networked stormwater harvesting systems to augment household water supply, reduce nuisance flooding and provide environmental flows to streams.

Project C6: Monbulk Creek

This project will test the technical and social feasibility of operating distributed stormwater control measures using real-time control, to improve the hydrology and ecological health of urban streams. It will test this through three complementary research questions: 1) Can networked SCMs and RTC technology improve the flow regime in Monbulk Creek? 2) In what ways do household water practices support or challenge the social sustainability of networked rainwater tanks being co-managed for private and public good? and 3) Do the increased baseflows and reduced stormflows platypus foraging habitat?
Project lead: Tim Fletcher. Expected date of completion: October 2024.
Project Summary

Interrogating and optimising the waterways long-term water quality monitoring network.

Project C7: Monitoring Water Quality

This project will review the ability of Melbourne Water’s water quality monitoring network to deliver on key network uses and identify gaps where the current network may not adequately support the key uses. It will involve detailed interrogation of the existing data set as well as the collection and analysis of additional waterways WQ samples and/or further modelling. On completion, the project will recommend potential changes to the network to improve performance within current and future potential delivery constraint scenarios.
Project lead: Vaughan Grey. Expected date of completion: March 2025.
Project Summary

Theme D : Riparian and wetland vegetation management

Understand the role of small headwater streams in urbanizing catchments for supporting waterway health

Project D1: Headwaters

This research seeks to investigate and quantify the magnitude of the values and services provided by headwater streams across the Melbourne Water management region; and ultimately facilitate their effective management and protection in areas of rapid urban growth.
Project lead: Matt Burns. Expected date of completion: October 2023.
Project Summary

Understanding and managing the impacts of deer on riparian vegetation

Project D2: Deer

This project will quantify the threats posed by deer to waterway vegetation values, revegetation projects and water quality, and map waterways at ’high risk’ and inform management to reduce their impacts. It will also explore potential mechanisms for deer control activities and impact mitigation strategies.
Project lead: Joe Greet. Expected date of completion: October 2023.
Project Summary

Yellingbo hydrology works MERI program

Project D4: Yellingbo

This project aims to support targeted monitoring, evaluation, reporting and improvement to accompany Melbourne Water hydrology works currently underway at the Cockatoo Swamp, Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve. A comprehensive hydrological and vegetation monitoring program has been underway for the past few years, this proposal seeks to ensure monitoring can continue for the duration of the works program to inform adaptive management of the pumping trial.
Project lead: Joe Greet. Expected date of completion: October 2022.
Project Summary

Modelling the Risk of Key Revegetation Species to a Changing Climate

Project D5: Revegetation Risk

develop models to predict the future distribution of key revegetation species under a changing climate in Victoria. In particular, the project will use multiple methods to determine: 1) how key revegetation species used by Melbourne Water are likely to be influenced by a changing climate, 2) which revegetation species are at greatest risk as a result of climate change, 3) indicator species in remnant vegetation communities that may be negatively impacted by climate change, 4) important mechanisms that influence species response to climate change; and, 5) if provenance selection may ameliorate the risk of climate change on key revegetation species.
Project lead: Craig Nitschke. Expected date of completion: October 2020.
Project Summary

Theme E : Community participation in waterway management

The impacts of ‘next generation’ citizen science programs

Project E1: Citizen Science

This project will investigate the impacts of these ‘next generation’ approaches to volunteer environmental monitoring programs. It will consider the composition of the volunteer cohort, the kinds of activities that volunteers engage in, and the nature of their volunteer experience. Of particular interest will be the ways in which these ‘next generation’ approaches deliver outcomes related to community networking, empowerment, stewardship, education and data generation.
Project lead: Stephanie Lavau. Expected date of completion: October 2021.
Project Summary

Long-term effectiveness of WSUD assets on private land

Project E3: Private WSUD

This research project will explore the long-term effectiveness of WSUD assets on private land. The initial research objectives for this study are to: 1) map the lines of influence of various professional and private stakeholders that impact on the lifecycle of WSUD assets on private land (from planning and design, through to construction and maintenance), 2) identify key factors that impact on the long-term effectiveness of individual WSUD assets on private land and 3) identify challenges related to the management of this distributed system of assets on private land.
Project lead: Stephanie Lavau. Expected date of completion: October 2023.
Project Summary

Indigenous perspectives and practices in the management of Melbourne’s waterways

Project E4: Indigenous Perspectives

This project aims to support Melbourne Water and its partners in further recognising and fostering indigenous cultural perspectives, knowledge and practices for management of Melbourne’s waterways. This may involve assisting in 1) understanding the range of indigenous knowledge of, connections with, and aspirations for, Melbourne’s waterways, and 2) identifying principles and practices for facilitating indigenous participation in waterway planning, management and monitoring. It is proposed that this project start in year 2 with a workshop in partnership with Melbourne Water’s Community Relations team and Traditional Owners to assist Melbourne Water in working towards the development of a policy and protocols for appropriate sharing and use of cultural knowledge in future projects.
Project lead: Stephanie Lavau. Expected date of completion: October 2023.
Project Summary