Rewards for Raingardens!

The winners of Melbourne Water’s Raingardens competition have been announced!

As part of the 10,000 Raingardens program five lucky raingarden owners were rewarded with $1,000 Bunnings gift vouchers! One of the winners was Eltham High School, whose year 10 and 11 students constructed the infiltration raingarden as part of their geography studies. Take a look at this video where the Eltham High School students discuss the construction of the raingarden and what it means to them.  

Eltham High School's Raingarden

An infiltration raingarden creates a stormwater filter, protecting rivers and creeks, while also allowing rain to enter the groundwater system. These gardens help to bring natural flows back to urban environments. You too can help to protect Melbourne’s waterways by building a raingarden at your home or school.

Eltham High School students with their Raingarden

For more information on building your own, take a look at Melbourne Water’s 10,000 Raingardens website. While you are there have a look at some of the other competition winners’ raingardens.

Raingardens on the road!

Raingardens are popping up across Melbourne in tram and bus shelters! The Adshels are highlighting the value of raingardens and how easy they are to build at home.

Raingarden adshel at bus and tram stops

These gardens naturally filter stormwater and help to protect our rivers and creeks!

Currently, stormwater flows untreated into our rivers, creeks and out to the ocean. This can be a problem, as too much water can enter our rivers, causing erosion. The stormwater can also be polluted by rubbish, excess nutrients and other particles. These nasties all end up in our waterways!

If we can build one here, you can build one at home!

Raingardens are a simple way to filter stormwater and reduce the volume entering waterways. The plants and different layers of rock, sand and soil in the garden naturally filter the water, removing pollutants and slowing the flow.

They are also low maintenance garden beds that look great!

Planter box raingarden

Melbourne Water is currently running a competition and you can go in the draw to win a $1000 Bunnings voucher. There are 5 to win! If you have a raingarden at home, all you have to do is register your raingarden here to enter the draw.

Raingardens take many forms. You might even have a simple raingarden at home without even knowing it! To find out more, visit the Melbourne Water Raingardens website, for information and instructions on how to build your own raingarden.  You can also watch this video, to see how a raingarden works to protect our rivers and creeks.

Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the raingarden Adshels across the city.

Melbourne Water Professional Development Day for Teachers

Interested in finding out about water education opportunities for your school?  Melbourne Water is holding a FREE professional development day for teachers.  Join us and discover the world of water at the Western Treatment Plant on Tuesday the 4th of December.

Experience the latest of Melbourne Water’s programs and resources available for Primary and Secondary School students. Working together we will determine how Melbourne Water’s education programs can complement environmental and water education in your school.

You will board a bus and see first-hand what makes the Western Treatment Plant so special.

Participate in a “Waterbug Investigation” session.


Consider the effect of urbanisation on our catchments and using our model, create a Water Smart City.

The day is free for all participants, however bookings are essential. For more information or to book, phone 9742 9264 or email (For bookings please include school name, contact number and dietary requirements).

Melbourne Water International Kids Teaching Kids Conference 2012

Last week, students from across the country came together to learn about water and the environment at the Melbourne Water International Kids Teaching Kids Conference. The conference was held over three days at Etihad Stadium in Docklands.

Cornish College students lead the migratory bird workshop

During the conference students educated one another on environmental issues using performance, interactive games, videos and presentations. Video presentations from schools in Mongolia and Indonesia were also shown, providing delegates with an insight into international water issues.

With the conference theme of “Waterways Warriors” delegates and their classmates created waterways shields to display environmental messages and commitments to protecting local waterways.

Students present their schools' Water Warriors shields.

Conference delegates also took part in a range of activities including building a model raingarden, making mini frog documentaries and exploring Melbourne Water’s new Water Smart City model.

Students design and test the 'Water Smart City'

Reflections from delegates at the end of the conference were filled with hope, passion and inspiration. Over the three days young environmentalists showed dedication to environmental protection and their messages. The future of our environment looks bright with these “Waterways Warriors” leading the charge!

To see more photos from the conference visit the Kids Teaching Kids Facebook page.  For more information about Kids Teaching Kids, visit the website.

Welcome back to birds!

Spring has arrived and with it comes thousands of birds!

Red-necked Stints feeding at the Western Treatment Plant

Migratory birds are arriving from the wintry northern hemisphere to enjoy our warmer weather and a good feed! Some birds, including the Red necked Stint (pictured above) have flown 12, 000 kilometres to get here. We think this a good reason to celebrate!

Join Melbourne Water and BirdLife Australia at the Edithvale Seaford Wetlands to celebrate the return of our feathered friends.

From Monday the 29th of October to Thursday the 1st of November special programs are on offer. Activities will include:

  • Waterbug identification
  • Stormwater Interactive Model demonstration
  • Bird origami
  • Migration games
  • And more…

Activities are free, but bookings are essential as numbers are limited. To book, email or call Melbourne Water on 13 17 22.


Exploring our Water Cycle

Recently students from Swinburne University’s Science Experience took part in a day visiting Edithvale Seaford Wetland and Eastern Treatment Plant (our ‘combination’ program). Year 9 and 10 students visited the area, rotating between the two sites. 

Science Experience students enjoy the Edithvale Seaford Wetlands

The students had a great time learning about the sewage treatment process at the Eastern Treatment Plant and exploring the value of wetlands at the Edithvale Seaford Wetlands Discovery Centre.

Science Experience students take part in a session in the discovery centre

If your school is interested in booking a combination package, or any of the other Melbourne Water Education programs, please visit the Melbourne Water Education website, or email us at

We are a sunburnt country, of drought and flooding rains…

For the last couple of years Melbourne has been getting lots of rain! The numbers on the front of the paper have been going up and up and up, telling us that our big reservoirs are filling with water. This is really great news!

Seven of our reservoirs are over 80% full at the moment with Maroondah and O’Shannassy at 100% capacity. This photo is of Maroondah full in February this year.

Maroondah Reservoir February 2012

We have ten major reservoirs across Melbourne. The biggest one is Thompson reservoir, which is north east of Melbourne in the Baw Baw region. Take a look at these photos of the Thomson…

The Thomson Reservoir

Look at the 1997 photo. Can you see that white building in the reservoir? That is a water tower. Now have a look at the photo of the Thomson in 2008. Look at the water tower there. It is standing high up out of the water, which shows us how low the reservoir was.

In 2008 our reservoirs were very low, because it didn’t rain very much. Even though the people of Melbourne did a great job of saving water, the reservoirs levels still went down. This was because of the drought.

Australia has always had times of drought. Sometimes there is lots of rain (like now) and sometimes there is very little rain. Because of this we always need to be ready.

Even when we have lots of water, it is important not to waste it. Water is a precious resource and it’s always good to try to think of ways to reduce our water use!

To see more, check out Melbourne Water’s Thomson reservoir photos on Flickr. Take a look at the water storages to see how full our reservoirs are and have a read of the State of the Storages report for more discussion on the Thomson reservoir.

It’s time for the Olympics!

This week the world’s best athletes are gearing up for the London 2012 Olympics. Here in Australia we are also getting ready to watch our favourite events: Sally Pearson jumping hurdles, Steve Hooker soaring in the pole vault or James Magnussen speeding down the pool, swimming freestyle. One of the best events, that everyone loves, is the Opening Ceremony.

We at Melbourne Water know how much everyone loves the opening ceremony, because Melburnians are sitting in front of the TV and not using water! How do we know this? Let’s have a look at this drinking water usage graph from Melbourne during the Sydney 2000 Olympics…

Melbourne's drinking water usage during the opening ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympics (Source: Joe Lansakara)

When the opening ceremony started at 7pm people didn’t use as much water. Why is that? Well, as the athletes were walking into the Olympic stadium, people across Melbourne were settling down to watch the spectacular that is the Opening Ceremony. When an ad-break started, you can see that some people got up and used some water (maybe they quickly went to the toilet or made a hot chocolate), but not for long because no one wanted to miss anything. We can see that the lowest amount of water used during the Olympic Ceremony was when Cathy Freeman lit the Olympic flame. That is the highlight of the evening!

At the end of the ceremony, where do you think everyone went? The people of Melbourne must have been busting after holding on through the whole opening ceremony, as it looked like everyone rushed off to the toilet at once when the ceremony was over.

So, if you are watching the Olympics this year, have a think about when you use water. To learn more about where our water comes from, take a look at the interactive Melbourne Water Supply Network Map.

Edithvale Seaford Wetlands Discovery Centre opens its doors!

Education space

Inside the Discovery Centre

Term 2 saw many interested schools visiting the centre to participate in our excursion program. Students and teachers alike enjoyed exploring the exciting features of the centre and learning about the Wetlands and its rich history. The wealth of information they take away with them inspiring them to be conscious and conscientious of the impact they make on the environment.

We are receiving a steady stream of interested and curious visitors to the centre during our Tuesday Open afternoons.  Visitors are appreciating the glorious views of the wetlands and watching the birds in their natural habitat. They are also enjoying learning about the sustainable features of the building such as the composting toilets, hydronic heating, rain water supply and ventilation system. We will continue to open the centre to the public on Tuesday afternoons

 The Edithvale and Seaford Wetlands are a remnant of the once extensive Carrum Carrum Wetland that covered about 10,000 acres, stretching from Mordialloc to Frankston. It was once known as the Kakadu of Victoria for its rich birdlife and wildlife population rivalling what can be found in Kakadu.

Bird watching

Children enjoying the birdlife

 The Edithvale and Seaford Wetlands are protected under the RAMSAR convention for being a wetland of international significance. This remnant wetland is protected due to the abundance of birds it supports, particularly the migratory species, and as a demonstration and research site to show how disturbed systems can retain significance through careful management.

Our visually appealing, environmentally friendly centre is receiving a lot of interest from architects making the front cover of Architecture Australia as well as an article in The Age.

If you are interested in booking a school excursion or group visit, please call 13 17 22. The centre caters for a maximum of 35 students & teachers. An overview of the excursion program can be found here in the Education section of our website.

We hope to see you for a visit soon!

A future in the water industry…

Recently a group of 15 Australian secondary school students visited the Western Treatment Plant as part of the BHP Billiton Science Awards Camp tour. The students were chosen from over 200 entrants by the State & Territory Science Teachers Association Science Competitions and CSIRO’s CREST Awards. The Western Treatment Plant was chosen as a place where students could observe interesting science in action, apply what they see in future scientific research, see some cool equipment and learn what their science career options are.

To participate in the BHP Billiton Science Awards the students were asked to complete a scientific research project. One student in particular, Tobias Hingston from the Queensland Academy of Health Sciences, caught our attention as his project was ‘The Production of Methane for Use as a Viable Fuel Source’.

Tobias found that it is possible to enhance the output and production of methane from organic matter via the natural inoculation bacteria – Bacillis subtillis. He found that the higher the concentration of bacteria, the more methane produced. As methane could be used as an energy source in the future he suggests bacteria could be used at landfill sites to produce a renewable electricity source.

Great idea Tobias! Here at the Western Treatment Plant we had the same idea as 95% of our yearly electricity needs are generated from methane gas captured from the sewage processing. We capture the methane by using huge covers over our sewage ponds and this is then turned into renewable fuel. If you want to know more about what is happening at our sewage treatment plants then take a look at our website.

We wish to congratulate two of the finalists who have been offered a fantastic opportunity to attend the 2012 Intel International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF) in the U.S.A. Can that really compare to their time at the Western Treatment Plant enjoying the sight and smell of raw sewage?

Western Treatment Plant Open Day 2012

The Open Day at the Western Treatment Plant is one of the highlights of the year because it is our chance to show people ‘What is Sewage?’ Last month we welcomed visitors from all parts of Melbourne and beyond. We offered visitors the choice of bus tours, each with a different view of the Western Treatment Plant. Some people even took the opportunity to jump on more than one tour. 


Every tour focused on sewage and how we clean it but as an added bonus the buses also visited another part of the Western Treatment Plant. On the ‘biodiversity’ tour, with our Education Officer Chris Lunardi, visitors experienced the ecological wonder of the Western Treatment Plant, with its shoreline and Ramsar listed ‘wetlands of international significance’.

Photo by Chris Lunardi

Others chose a ‘farm’ tour with Melbourne Water’s agribusiness co-ordinator Warren Blyth. Warren shared his comprehensive knowledge of the Western Treatment Plant’s agricultural activities. Melbourne Water now co-manages the farming operation with their agribusiness partner (MPH Agriculture).  

Photo by Warren Blyth.


For those visitors interested in the history of the Western Treatment Plant, we offered a bus tour which stopped at the township of Cocoroc. Visitors were greeted by Paul Balassone, Melbourne Water’s heritage services co-ordinator, who spoke about the rich cultural history of the Western Treatment Plant.


Visitors on all the bus tours were able to see how Melbourne Water is planning for the future with:

  • the replacement of methane covers on the sewage ponds which will capture more biogas,  
  • new upgrades to our recycled water system which will improve the quantity and quality of the recycled water, and
  • the construction of a second main sewer so more raw sewage can be delivered to the Western Treatment Plant.


For those people lucky enough to jump on an Open Day tour, there was an extra bonus as the tours were free. So remember to put it in your diaries as a ‘must do’ in 2013. If you think you might forget, register your interest on the website and we will contact you next year. 

Have you have been to our Open Day? Why don’t you make a comment so others might hear about your experience?