Water usage prices on your bill are slightly lower, as a result of the remaining 2022–23 desalination water order for Melbourne ceasing.

Prices have decreased by 4 cents per kilolitre for drinking water usage from 1 October 2022 until 30 June 2023.

Find more information, visit:  Managing Victoria’s Water Supply | Premier of Victoria

Customer Q&A's

On 23 September 2022, the Minister for Water ceased Melbourne’s remaining desal order (11 gigalitres; 11,000,000 million litres) for 2023–23. The order was ceased after considering advice from Melbourne Water about the current and projected weather conditions and the secure state of Melbourne’s water supply.

Each year the Victorian Government decides how much water to order from the Victorian Desalination Plant. On 1 April 2022, the Victorian Government announced a desal order of 15 gigalitres (15,000,000 litres) for the 2022–23 supply year to boost water storages. Melbourne has already received 4 gigalitres.

You’ll receive the 4 cents per kilolitre price reduction on the water you use from 1 October 2022 to 30 June 2023.

All residential and non-residential customers who receive drinking water and bills for water usage from Greater Western Water (formerly City West Water), South East Water and Yarra Valley Water.

The water usage charges on your bill will decrease by 4 cents a kilolitre.

If your water usage has not increased since the same time last year, the average household will save around $1.50 per bill until 30 June 2023.

South East Water

Water usage

Price per kilolitre (before Oct 2022)

Price per kilolitre (after Oct 2022)

Tier 1 (0-440 litres per day)



Tier 2 (over 440 litres per day)






Customers will still be billed for desalinated water that was produced before the water order was ceased (around 4 igalitres) which relates to water usage in July, August and September 2022.

You’ll see the reduced prices on bills that include water usage from October 2022 to June 2023.

Future desalinated water orders will continue to be based on the best available information, including current and projected storage levels, current and future climate forecasts and system operation plans.

You’ll see the 4 cents per kilolitre decrease on the back of your bill under the table of charges. This is from your next bill arriving between October and December 2022.

Any new payment plans from October 2022 will account for the price reduction. If you set up a payment plan with us before then, your account will be in credit for the amount saved by the price reduction.

If you’re on a payment plan, we encourage you to keep your account in credit until you renew your payment plan and we recalculate your payments.

If you’d prefer your payment plan takes into account the price reduction, we’ll need to cancel your current plan and start a new one. If you pay your bill quarterly, the credit on this bill will continue to carry forward until your costs are more than your total credit. 

If you move out before you receive your next bill during October, November or December 2022, you won’t be eligible for the price reduction.

If you move into another property in Melbourne serviced by either Greater Western Water (formerly City West Water), South East Water or Yarra Valley Water then you’ll receive the price reduction on your water usage at the new property. 

Customers who aren’t charged for water use won’t receive the decrease price reductions – this includes landlords and customers receiving bills for waterways and drainage or Parks Charge only.

Customers who receive a bill from South East Water with water usage charges will get the price reduction. You’ll get the price reduction in all your water bills from October 2022 until 30 June 2023.

If you’re a South East Water customer, you’ll receive the drinking water price reduction for water used at the property you live in, not your investment property. As tenants are charged for their drinking water use at your investment property, they’ll receive the reduced prices on their bills.

If your total bill is up-to-date and your account is in credit, yes you can receive a refund. 

The price reduction is passed on to households in the second billing period of the financial year which is from October to December 2022. Depending on when you move into your property, you should receive the price reduction on your next bill.  

Decreased water usage prices will apply in your next bill which will arriveing between October and December 2022. If you close your account and move interstate before you receive your water bill this period, you won’t receive the price reduction. 

Deceased estates that use drinking water from 1 October 2022 will also receive the price reduction.

We know this is a difficult time and we can support you with more time to pay your bill or setting up a payment plan so you can pay your bills in instalments. If you are a valid concession card holder, make sure you have this registered with us as you may be eligible for a discount on your annual bill.

If you're struggling to pay your bills, need some support, or are experiencing family violence, we're here to help. Call our Customer Service team on 13 16 94 (Monday to Friday 8 am - 6 pm) for a confidential chat or email customercare@sew.com.au

Together, we'll work out a plan to help you pay and manage your water and sewerage bill. 

If you're struggling to pay your bills, we're here to help. Call our Customer Service team on 13 16 94 (Monday to Friday 8 am - 6 pm) for a confidential chat or email customercare@sew.com.au

Deslalination Plant & Water Storages Q&A's


The current high storage levels across the Melbourne system reflect healthy inflows over the past few years. Over the three months of winter, total inflows into the Melbourne system were 60% above the 30-year average (282 GL). Thomson received 67% above the 30-year average inflows (125 GL). Autumn was also unusually wet, with Thomson receiving above average inflows in March and April (87% and 85% above the monthly average respectively).

The Victorian Desalination Plant is an important part of the portfolio of water sources to manage Melbourne’s water security.

Because it doesn’t rely on rainfall, water from the desalination plant tops up our storages, even during dry conditions, providing resilience to shocks like drought and bushfires.

By topping up our storages, orders from the Victorian Desalination Plant over the last six years have helped secure Melbourne’s water supply. Without desalinated water orders our storages would be 25% lower.

Over the past 12 months, many parts of Victoria – including Melbourne – experienced above average rainfall and inflows to water storages. In addition, the Bureau of Meteorology has declared a third successive La Nina event and is projecting above-average rainfall for the next three months.

These wet conditions have resulted in higher than predicted inflows to storages, triggering the advice to cancel the remainder of the 2022-23 desalinated water order.  This reflects adaptive and flexible management in the face of exceptionally wet conditions. 

Led by Melbourne Water, the metropolitan water corporations recommended an order of 15 GL for 2022-23 in March 2022 as part of the suite of measures taken to manage Victoria’s immediate and long-term water security. This advice was presented to the Minister for Water and considered:

·       the water storage position,

·       the impact on customers,

·       the flexibility to perform system operations on our water supply infrastructure, projected water demands and future climate conditions.

Due to the relatively high storage levels at the time – 85.7 per cent on 1 April - the risk of foregone harvest (which is rainfall that can’t be captured in a storage or diverted for beneficial use) was considered unacceptable for orders of 75GL or greater.

An order of 15 GL was recommended on the basis of the risk of foregone harvest and projected deficits in future water supply to meet Melbourne’s demands.

Yes. Melbourne Water, in providing their recommendation to the Government on this year’s desalinated water order, noted that either a 0 GL or 15 GL order would result in the same projected 16 per cent chance of spills from Thomson Reservoir. This means that the current risk of spill for Melbourne’s storages is driven by recent rainfall and inflows – not the desalinated water order.

Increasing the order to 50 GL would have increased the risk of spill by 3% (to 19% risk).

There were exceptionally high inflows to Thomson Reservoir in August (87% above average), which followed above average inflow to Melbourne storages in June. With declaration of a third consecutive La Nina event by the Bureau of Meteorology on 13 September, and current storage level at Thomson Reservoir of 97%, Thomson Reservoir is now likely to reach 100% in coming months, leading to a high likelihood of spills.

Given the current very wet conditions, and the recent Bureau of Meteorology forecast advice, it is appropriate to cancel the remainder of the desalinated water order.

 Yes. A desalinated water supply is not just about making up the deficit in storages each year, but also about increasing storage levels, which is why a 0 GL order this year was not advised by Melbourne Water.

A 0 GL order could have meant a larger order next year which could cost customers more if drier conditions eventuated in 2022-23.

With the current wet conditions and declaration of a third successive La Nina event, a reconsideration of the 2022-23 desal order of 15 GL based on the advice of Melbourne Water was appropriate.

The decision to cancel the remainder of the desal order was made by the Minister for Water after considering advice from Melbourne Water about the current and projected climatic conditions and the secure state of Melbourne’s water supply.

The decision was based on advice from Melbourne Water as the Storage Manager of the Melbourne system, based on the most up to date information about current water storage position, projections for future rainfall and inflows and system operations over coming months.

There will be no cost to customers for ceasing this year’s order, however customers will be billed for desalinated water that was produced before the water order was ceased (around 4GL).  

The decision to order desalinated water is made each year based on annual assessment by experts from our water authorities using the best available information at the time. Regular desalinated water orders from the Victorian Desalination Plant are an integral part of Melbourne’s drinking water supply.

Future desalinated water orders will continue to be made on the basis of the best available information, taking into account a range of factors including current and projected storage levels, current and future climate forecasts, customer price impacts and system operation plans.

A. Whether the Yarra and Thomson valleys will experience any flooding is dependent on the rainfall and inflows into the rivers and tributaries in the catchments over the coming weeks and months.

All flow information from our reservoirs will be fed into the flood intelligence system as part of the flood response arrangements under the Victoria State Emergency Service. Flood warnings will be issued when threshold flow rates are reached in the rivers. 

A. Melbourne Water is currently operating the Melbourne Headworks System to maximise harvesting capacity and minimise spills by transferring water between its storages to maximises space for new inflows.  For example, MW is:

  • Ceasing harvesting to Maroondah and O’Shannassy Reservoirs and the local Yarra weirs, with flows currently just passing downstream to the Yarra River.
  • Maximising transfers from Thomson Reservoir to Upper Yarra Reservoir (while ensuring Upper Yarra does not spill).
  • Maximising transfers from Upper Yarra to Silvan Reservoir and then downstream to Greenvale/Cardinia Reservoirs.
  • Maximising usage of Greenvale and Cardinia to meet customer demand while minimising the use of Tarago Reservoir.

With projected higher than average rainfall in coming months, MW is also planning for potential pre-releases from Thomson Reservoir. This will help to minimise the likelihood of spills from the reservoir. 

Environmental waterway managers advise that spills are not detrimental to the downstream environment, but controlled pre-releases enable specific flow rates to be achieved for maximum environmental benefit.

The highest-priority watering actions for the Thomson River are 800 ML per day freshes in autumn and spring (in October/November), which target migratory fish movement. These watering actions are essential to cue the spawning and recruitment of the threatened Australian grayling population and other native migratory fish species, which have shown positive signs of improvement over the last two years.