Katie Burns

Katie Burns

Katie Burns, Australia

Katie is a Senior Project Manager in the Integrated Water and Catchments Division of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, State Government of Victoria. She is responsible for facilitating catchment based integrated water management by water sector organisations for the Werribee and Maribyrnong Rivers of greater Metropolitan Melbourne.
Katie has a civil engineering foundation and a Masters in Integrated Water Management from the International WaterCentre. She has spent the last 10 years working on alternative water projects and integrated water planning with urban water sector stakeholders in Melbourne. This includes playing a leading role in development of the ‘Integrated Water Management Framework for Victoria’ which guides collaborative integrated water management to achieve holistic water cycle outcomes.

Presentation Title: Werribee River: case study of an integrated approach to rural, urban and environmental water priorities

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (State Government of Victoria, Australia) has been collaborating with Melbourne Water (waterway manager), Western Water and Southern Rural Water for several years on integrated water management planning to explore challenges and opportunities for the Werribee River. The Werribee is a highly stressed, yet socially important waterway on the outskirts of metropolitan Melbourne. Opportunities to access additional environmental water are being considered in the context of ecological requirements as well as economic and social impacts. This sits within a complex policy setting which is seeking to promote regional growth, providing opportunities to establish diverse portfolio of water supply options, promoting waterway health and meeting the social needs of local communities. The Werribee River provides water entitlements for rural communities, urban centres and supports important agricultural districts. The lower reaches are significantly flow stressed due to a small environmental water entitlement and operational and infrastructure constraints. Irrigation water is supplied from a dam at the midpoint of the catchment and a diversion weir in the lower reach, leading to a flow reduction and highly modified flow regime that impacts on ecological communities, especially during the summer months. Melbourne’s western growth corridor within the Werribee catchment is one of the fastest growing areas in Australia with 140,000 new homes predicted by 2050. This development will increase the recycled water and urban stormwater volumes in the catchment, and effective management is required to protect local waterway health. The Werribee River is also increasingly recognised for the amenity value it provides to residents of the established and developing outer suburbs. Predicted increased demands and declining inflows due to climate change present challenges for the supply of water for urban and rural customers, provision of sewerage systems and environmental flows for a waterway that is already flow stressed.

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