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Waterways management

Melbourne Water: improving stream health

Australian academic and technology expertise is helping improve waterways to protect stream-dependent species.
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Water-sensitive urban rain garden, Melbourne

“It was formerly taking years to get quite an average product; now with the Nearmap data we’ve got it down to a couple of months for a quality product – it’s been transformative for us.”

Al DangerSenior Asset Manager, Waterways, Melbourne Water
Melbourne Water manages water supply, sewerage, and drainage systems across the greater Melbourne region, serving a population of over five million. This story explores how location intelligence technology is helping the waterways team improve management to protect stream-dependent species such as platypus.

The Challenge at a Glance

Improving waterways health

Native species such as fish and platypus are likely to decline in waterways in urban growth areas unless solutions can be found that limit the volume of stormwater reaching streams. 
For priority greenfield developments in Melbourne’s outer suburbs, the Healthy Waterways Strategy set water-harvesting and infiltration targets with the aim of maintaining the natural hydrology of the waterway, reducing the degradation of waterways due to development.
Habitat Suitability Models (HSMs) for native fish, platypus and macroinvertebrates, developed by Melbourne University Waterways and Ecosystems Research Group, help in the planning and management of waterways, predicting the probability of waterway species at locations through the landscape. 
Directly Connected Imperviousness (DCI; the proportion of impervious surface in a catchment drained with traditional underground piped networks), is an important input to the models that predicts how urbanisation will impact the natural hydrology of waterways and therefore the overall condition of habitat. If a change reaches two percent of a catchment or above, it’s ecologically critical. The map below shows the natural waterways network within the Melbourne Water catchment.

The Solution at a Glance

Nearmap AI: impervious surface mapping

Nearmap is helping Melbourne Water monitor urban development in priority areas over time. Nearmap AI data layers can automate the identification of impervious and pervious surfaces on new and historic surveys to improve the efficiency, accuracy and speed of analysis of Melbourne Water’s impervious surface mapping.
Melbourne Water links its Habitat Suitability Modelling to a prioritisation tool called Zonation, to determine where best to invest to revegetate waterways and to reduce imperviousness over the next 10 years. The Habitat Suitability Models (HSMs) coupled with Zonation identify habitat benefits for platypus, macroinvertebrates, and native fish. 
Melbourne Water also uses Nearmap AI to monitor streamside vegetation over time to understand revegetation efforts and to identify areas of streamside clearing.
Accessing regularly updated data sets for urban footprint and vegetation available through Nearmap AI will help support the ongoing use of models for strategy evaluation and development.
Sat Mar 16 2024
Sat Mar 16 2024
Jacksons Creek, VIC AU

Slide to view AI layers: vegetation & water

Business Impact

Greater awareness, clearer insights

Nearmap content helps improve the efficiency, accuracy and speed of analysis of Melbourne Water’s impervious surface mapping.
Nearmap AI data helps Melbourne Water:

• Understand the impacts of streamside revegetation
Track and report against targets for stormwater and revegetation
Evaluate the Healthy Waterways Strategy performance
Nearmap AI will help determine the strategy’s effectiveness in protecting and improving waterways, particularly with respect to preventing waterways from declining in urban growth areas. It will also be used to track how impervious surface areas are increasing outside of priority areas through activities such as infill development.
With access to Nearmap imagery, the Melbourne Water team can also consider how location intelligence can be used to help maintain awareness of issues in the landscape such as the density and size of farm dams and their associated changes over time. Nearmap AI is likely to be used as an input for new HSM models being developed for wetlands to predict frog and wetland bird habitat suitability.
Wed Jan 17 2018
Sat Mar 16 2024
Development in Sunbury, VIC AU

L: Jan 2018 | R: Mar 2024

For a more in-depth look at how Melbourne Water is using location intelligence to manage waterways, read this blog.

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