Preparing Victoria for the challenges of climate change
The Integrated Water Management (IWM) Plan for the Geelong 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 responds to significant water-related challenges like flooding, securing an alternate water supply to the campus, protecting and restoring waterways near the campus, and uses the Waurn Ponds environment as a ‘living laboratory’ for applied research and teaching.
Importantly, we 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
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 and mitigates flooding – taking big steps towards reaching Deakin's sustainability commitments.
Projects at the Geelong 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 the campus 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 future needs of the campus.
Living laboratory projects
Making irrigation safer for native fish
PhD student Ben Woolcock is one of many Deakin students using the Geelong 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 Geelong 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.
Three landmark aquatic projects
Deakin will strengthen its sustainability commitment and continue to invest in regional Victoria’s future with three projects in water management, aquaculture and marine science announced in a landmark $22.1 million partnership with the Victorian Government.
This project includes co-contributions from the Victorian Higher Education State Investment Fund (VHESIF). Learn more about our other VHESIF funded projects: