Strategies and outlooks

Read our 5-year corporate strategy, urban water strategy, annual water outlook and water restrictions by-law. 

Our 5-year corporate strategy outlines how we'll deliver healthy water for life for our customers, community and environment, now and into the future. 

Our Corporate Strategy 2028


Water for Life

Greater Melbourne Urban Water and System Strategy: Water for Life (known as ‘Water for Life’) is a shared plan, we developed with Greater Western Water, Melbourne Water  and Yarra Valley Water.  

The strategy outlines how we plan to shore up Melbourne’s water supplies for the next 50 years. This includes how we aim to balance Melbourne’s water needs by increasing efficiencies, diversifying water sources and using new water supplies.

Water for Life builds on the work we’re already delivering to provide Greater Melbourne with a secure and sustainable water supply for the next 50 years. 

Our water challenges 

We face considerable water challenges over the next 50 years  

Melbourne is consistently ranked as one of the world’s most liveable cities and water makes a significant contribution to the prosperity of people and places. However projected population growth, together with uncertain climate conditions, present challenges for Melbourne’s water future.   

We also need to provide enough water for the environment to maintain waterway health and to preserve and protect Traditional Owner values. 

We need to act now 

While we have the benefit of time, we need to act now to be ready for the uncertainty that lies ahead.  

Our findings show that we need to add alternative water supplies, such as desalination, recycled water and stormwater to our existing system within the next 10 years, as well as several system augmentations over the next 50 years.

Planning now we ensure we can deliver on these initiatives and future proof Greater Melbourne’s water supply.  

We need a lot of water 

By 2070, in a scenario with high demand, a drying climate and less water flowing into our rivers, we may need to double our water supplies – meaning we’d need to add an average of 12 billion litres of additional supply each year. 

While our storages are in a strong position now, an overall trend of warmer and drier conditions is expected over the next 50 years. 

The amount of water we have available can change quickly. Maintaining high storage levels helps ensure we can adapt while having time to plan and make system improvements.   

Read the strategy

Read the full Water for Life strategy

Short on time? Read the summary of the Water for Life strategy

Read the accessible version.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is Water for Life and who produced it? 

Water for Life is a joint strategy for the future, which plans to ensure a safe and secure water supply for Greater Melbourne over the next 50 years, including specific actions for the next 5 years.

It was developed collaboratively by Greater Western Water, Melbourne Water, South East Water and Yarra Valley Water, in partnership with neighbouring regional water corporations. 

What area does the strategy cover?

The strategy covers the entire service regions of Greater Western Water, Melbourne Water, South East Water and Yarra Valley Water. Throughout the strategy we refer to this area collectively as Greater Melbourne. 

How was the strategy developed? 

Beyond industry collaboration, the strategy is also a shared plan with Traditional Owners and the community. As part of the development process, both groups developed a set of criteria which was used to assess and short-list future options.  

What stage is the strategy in now? 

We’re in a 5-year implementation phase and each of Melbourne's water corporations have already begun delivering on projects which support outcomes of the strategy. This work is being coordinated through the Managing Directors Accord, set up to tackle the region’s biggest challenges. 

Progress against the strategy is reported at the end of each year as part of the Annual Water Outlook. 

Read Melbourne's 2024 Water Outlook.

Why is the strategy important? 

Across Greater Melbourne, we’re facing some big water challenges. Our population is growing and we’re using more water, our climate is drying and there’s less water in our rivers. Add to that an expanding grid of customers and a thriving economy, and we’re seeing increasing pressure put on our most valuable resource – water. 

Looking forward, under some climate and demand scenarios, we’ll start reaching an imbalance in supply and demand in the next 10 years. That means we’ll have to take action beyond our current solutions to ensure Greater Melbourne has enough water into the future.

Why do we need to act now? 

Our current water storage levels are secure, but from history we know droughts can start suddenly and last for an extended period. Even if we don’t experience a drought over the coming decade, the amount of water we receive from our catchments may not be enough to meet our needs. 

Responding to this potential water supply shortfall will require investment in significant infrastructure. This infrastructure takes a long time to plan and build. By planning and preparing now, and ensuring infrastructure is ready to be built when needed, we can ensure that we make the right investment at the right time. 

What options will Water for Life deliver?

There’s no single solution to the complex challenges we face. Water for Life will deliver a range of options in 3 categories:  

  1. Enhancing and expanding our existing system (including new manufactured water sources, like desalination).

  2. Water efficiency (including finding ways to use less water in our homes, businesses, communities and distribution networks, like through behaviour change programs, digital meters and water efficient household appliances).

  3. Integrated water management (including using recycled water and stormwater for non-drinking uses, to reduce demand on our drinking water supplies). 

Annual Water Outlook

Every year we work with our fellow metropolitan water organisations to publish the Annual Water Outlook for Melbourne. This outlines a number of individual and joint industry short and medium-term actions to improve future drought response.

Melbourne's Water Outlook 2024

Melbourne's Water Outlook 2024 Accessible version

Under the Water Act we’re required to manage water restriction rules under a by-law. Our by-law incorporates four stages of water restrictions and specifies what can and cannot be done when each stage of restriction is in place. If a stage of restriction is in place, it supersedes Permanent Water Rules.

Water Restrictions By-law 001/2022


Read our Corporate, Drought preparedness, Climate Adaptation Action, and Stormwater Plans here. 

Our Corporate Plan 2024–29 is our roadmap for delivering healthy water for life for our customers, community and environment, now and into the future.

South East Water Corporate Plan 2024-29

This plan explains how decisions about water restrictions are made.

Drought preparedness plan

Stormwater is an evolving area of opportunity in the water industry which also presents a number of economic, regulatory, and operational challenges, read how South East Water is managing it. 

South East Water Stormwater plan 2022


Read our Annual and Water Quality Reports. 

Our annual reports provide an overview of our operational performance, audited financial reports and key highlights, along with statements on our governance and management practices. 

2022-23 Annual Report

2022-23 Consultancy expenditure

2021-22 Annual Report

2020-21 Annual Report

2019-20 Annual Report

2018-19 Annual Report

2017-18 Annual Report

2016-17 Annual Report


 If you need to access a previous year’s report please contact us.

We produce an annual drinking water quality report, which details our performance against the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act 2003, Safe Drinking Water Regulations 2015 and the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines 2011 (ADWG).


2022-23 Annual Water Quality report

2021-22 Annual Water Quality report

Water regulation

Although it can be a complex world, you may be interested to understand a bit more about the regulations and regulatory bodies in the water industry.

Our Policies

Read the policies that outline our commitments and responsibilities to our customers, community and employees.