Synopsis of the sources and impacts of pollutants on waterways and bays from urban and rural landscapes in the Melbourne Water Region

Waterway pollutants – where do we start?


Melbourne’s rivers, wetlands and bays are all affected by a variety of pollutants.  Different land uses and activities in urban and rural areas generate different types of pollution and it is essential to identify the sources and impacts of high risk pollutants to protect ecological, social and amenity values. 


This project aims to:

  • Produce a synopsis drawn from a review of literature, to provide risk rankings of the sources and impacts of pollutants on waterways and bays from urban and rural landscapes within the MW region. This document can be used as a general reference for Melbourne Water staff, agencies and the community involved in Waterway programs.
  • The document will be updated annually, filling knowledge gaps using findings from targeted projects within the A3P program and external research.

Progress to date

Synopsis complete. The most significant land use for pollutants is from industrial catchments. Other land uses that generate high pollutant runoff are residential, horticultural, grassland and wastewater discharges.

Expected Outcomes

  • Provide a synthesis of the sources and impacts of urban and rural pollution that are likely to pose a significant risk to environmental values. 
  • Identify priority sources and pollutants of concern in urban and rural waterways.
  • Recommend options (management and research) to reduce the risk of urban and rural pollutants on the receiving waterways.
  • Increase confidence in management interventions linked to identified factors to reduce pollutants to streams, wetlands, estuaries and bays
  • Influence stormwater management policy, rural land management policy and planning
  • Support achievement of Healthy Waterways Strategy targets

Project Team

RMIT A3P: Claudette Kellar, Hung Vu, Kathryn Hassell, Vincent Pettigrove, Monica Tewman

MW: Rhys Coleman, Alison Rickard, Trish Grant, Sharyn Ross-Rakesh, Slobodanka Stojkovic

Expected Completion: End 2019, updated annually to 2023

Contact: or 9925 4682 or on 9925 4647

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.