The Fishermans Bend Water Sensitive City Strategy will be the largest water sensitive urban design project in Australia. It builds on sustainability goals for the precinct and will support the development of Fishermans Bend into a thriving place that is a leading example for environmental sustainability, liveability and innovation.

The Water Sensitive City Strategy applies world’s best practice in managing water as a resource and the impacts of climate change in urban environments. It will facilitate development, improve climate resilience, boost biodiversity and urban ecology, and reduce pollution from storm water runoff.

Water Sensitive Urban Design

Image: Water sensitive urban design will capture and treat stormwater improving water quality and reducing pollution in Port Phillip Bay.

This is significant to Fishermans Bend given its location adjacent to the Yarra River and Port Phillip Bay. Fishermans Bend is planned to be Australia’s largest Green Star Community, setting a benchmark for sustainable and resilient urban transformation.

The Strategy was developed by the Fishermans Bend Taskforce, together with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Melbourne Water, South East Water, City of Melbourne, City of Port Phillip, Water Sensitive Cities Australia, and the Office of the Victorian Government Architect.

This is the first and largest strategy of its kind to see all the partners come together and it builds on the Fishermans Bend Framework sustainability goals.


Image: Rain gardens are designed to capture water run-off from hard surface, reduce pollution and provide passive irrigation for plants.

Providing integrated water management (IWM) solutions that range from the precinct-wide and street-scale as well as initiatives for individual buildings, the Strategy includes:

  • A precinct water recycling plant and third pipe network to deliver water security, reducing potable water use.
  • Integrated water sensitive urban design features at the street scale, including distributed storages in open space, rain-gardens and tree pits.
  • Green roofs, green walls, and smart rainwater tanks in individual buildings to reduce flooding and support Green Star sustainability measures.
  • Traditional civil engineering infrastructure of pipes, pumps, and levees to ensure protection from Yarra River overflows and flood management during times of high rainfall.

It is an innovative and cost-effective approach to managing water infrastructure, streets, and open spaces, delivering high quality urban form where water is a key feature in the landscape.


Image: Rain gardens, tree pits and stormwater storage provide a multi-faceted approach to stormwater run-off management.

A Water Sensitive City Working Group with representatives from partner organisations, established during the development of the strategy, will play a key role in implementation of initiatives under the Strategy.

The Strategy aligns with Victoria’s water blueprint – Water for Victoria, Victoria’s Climate Change Framework and the Government endorsed Fishermans Bend Framework, which both commit to the need for a water sensitive city approach to managing water in urban environments, and contributes to delivering liveable, sustainable and climate resilient cities.

Water Sensitive Approach

Image: Multi-scale Water Sensitive City Strategy Approach.

Green walls

Image: Green walls in private buildings provide shade and insulation for residents and combat the urban heat-island effect.

Watch a summary animation about the Water Sensitive City Strategy (6min).

Watch a Q&A session with a panel of experienced practitioners, policy makers and scientists to hear more about the challenges global cities face and the types of water sensitive city initiatives that can be adopted to overcome them (36min).

Panel members:

Cheryl Batagol, Chair – CRC for Water Sensitive Cities, Member of Fishermans Bend Development Board

Professor Tony Wong, Chair – CRC for Water Sensitive Cities Think Tank

Claire Ferris Miles, former CEO – Sustainability Victoria

Charlie Littlefair, General Manager – Liveable Water Solutions, South East Water

Craig Dixon, Acting Executive General Manager - Service Delivery, Melbourne Water

Kim Markwell, Environmental Scientist – E2 Designlab

This film was produced in early 2021.

Access the following supporting documentation here for the Water Sensitive City Strategy:

  • IWM Case Studies
  • Urban Ecology Study
  • Water Sensitive Drainage and Flood Strategy
  • IWM Options and WRP concept design reports

Page last updated: 16/01/23