Ensuring Victoria is prepared for the challenges of climate change
The Integrated Water Management (IWM) Plan for the Waurn Ponds Campus, delivered in partnership with Barwon Water, is an important intervention that considers the water cycle as a holistic system and approaches water management in a collaborative and interconnected way.
It aims to respond to significant water-related challenges like flooding, secure an alternate water supply to the campus, protect and restore waterways near the campus, and use the Waurn Ponds environment as a ‘living laboratory’ for applied research and teaching.
Importantly, it also emphasises the social value of water, recognising how our waterways contribute to healthy ecosystems, liveability, and a sense of place.
What is integrated water management?
Traditionally, water has been managed as a series of parts with aspects such as stormwater and drainage and flood mitigation considered separately. Integrated management is an approach to planning, design and delivery of places and systems which considers all elements of the water cycle:
- Water sources for consumptive use
- Sewerage system
- Stormwater, drainage, flooding
- Water in the landscape
- Social values of water (Traditional Custodian knowledge, community support)
- Economic values of water (teaching, learning and partnerships)
It’s fundamental to sustainable development and provides a far more comprehensive understanding of the landscape, urban form, water, and the interconnectedness of each element of the water cycle.
Effective integrated water management does more than fix water problems. It enhances biodiversity, creates valued landscapes and campus experiences, mitigates flooding, and, for Deakin, takes big steps towards reaching our sustainability commitments.
IWM projects at Waurn Ponds Campus
IWM works began in January 2022, with a significant conversion of the network of ponds into a constructed wetland system. This is expected to be functioning by 2023 and is an important step in delivering better water quality and biodiversity. Works will be highly visible as you wander around campus.
One by one, our six ponds will be drained, sediment build up removed, banks re-shaped, and aquatic plants (or macrophytes) planted alongside other new plantings. As each pond is worked on, resident aquatic animals are temporarily relocated and then placed back in the wetlands after construction.
Once it’s complete, we can expect to attract a more diverse range of water birds, frogs and other aquatic fauna and we will be re-populating the wetlands with native fish. There will also be a significantly reduced chance of flooding, less erosion and sediment build up, and cleaner water flowing into Waurn Ponds Creek.
This initial project is just the beginning; there are several more to come that will help us address other water issues and support future sustainable development of the campus.
The IWM Plan also presents many opportunities to undertake teaching and research in a ‘living laboratory’, using Deakin Waurn Ponds as a test bed to investigate water management and the impact of climate change on environments, wildlife, and people.
As the climate changes and we continue to grow, we need to manage these valuable water assets deliberately. Integrated water management – including its myriad opportunities for research – is a key element that will help us enhance our environment’s sustainability, while supporting the future needs of the campus.
For more information on the next stages of IWM works across the Deakin Waurn Ponds campus, click here.
Living Laboratory projects
Making irrigation safer for native fish
PhD student Ben Woolcock is one of many Deakin students using the Waurn Ponds campus wetland conversion as an opportunity to use the ‘living laboratory’ for practical experience in electrofishing and fish tagging.
Scheduled works on the campus entrance pond gave Ben an opportunity to put practical components of his PhD research on tracking native fish in Victoria’s irrigations systems into action.
Ben and his associate supervisor Dr Dion Iervasi implanted acoustic tags into anaesthetised fish before releasing them back into the pond.
Ben’s PhD research aims to determine how man-made irrigation systems serve as a potential refuge for Australian native fish. He hopes his research will help identify new ways to maintain waterways by water authorities.
Partnerships and collaboration
The Integrated Water Management Plan will deliver collaboration and learning opportunities with local Councils, Traditional Owners and other water utilities across Victoria.
The Wadawurrung people are the Traditional Owners of the lands and waterways on our Waurn Ponds Campus and were consulted in the development of the IWM Plan. We will continue to collaborate with Wadawurrung Traditional Owners and ensure their values, wisdom and stories inform the way we manage campus environments.
If you'd like to learn more about our projects, connect with our researchers or discuss partnership opportunities, we'd love to hear from you.
This project includes co-contributions from the Victorian Higher Education State Investment Fund (VHESIF).
For further information on our other VHESIF funded projects please visit the links below.