South East Water (SEW) engaged Alluvium to develop a Conceptual Framework and case studies review to inform a future co-investment partnership program with open space managers across SEW’s service area, to long term drought proof open space landscapes through sustainable water supply sources to ensure areas are resilient to extremes of weather and climate change. This work supports SEW’s Pricing Submission to the Essential Services Commission for the next Water Plan 2023-28 and is seeking $25Million over 5yrs for a 20-30year program life.

The ultimate aim of the program is to work with councils (x17) within SEW’s area with potential application to private organisations (e.g. golf courses, commercial/industrial precincts, developers etc). With the predicted changes in rainfall patterns, reliability of supply to catchments and increasing temperatures, increased evaporation from landscapes and water storages, current “rainfall dependent water supplies will be less reliable in providing enough water for communities and the environment” with only enough supply (now with desalination) to service communities for the next 10-15yrs.

A series of Focus Group engagement workshops were held with LGA representatives to listen and best understand their needs, expectations, budgets and level of interest in such a program. Key messages from the process included fair and equitable access, ease and flexibility of process, predictability of investments, strategic alignment with State/Local IWM strategies, prioritisation methods for eligibility, and that the program be outcomes focussed with collaborative and co-designed projects as opposed to a grants-based approach.

Workshop outputs then informed the conceptual framework that will now form part of SEW’s pricing submission and subsequently inform development of a future program if endorsed by the ESC. LGA participation and interest in the project was extremely high and well attended with significant contributions made by members.