The Aquatic Pollution Prevention Partnership with Melbourne Water represents an approach to conduct research on waterway pollution identification and management within the Port Phillip and Westernport region that supports a truly dual focus of:
- applied research to reduce pollution of waterways and bays and
- knowledge exchange that integrates research findings and the broader science with primarily Melbourne Water activities, and secondarily those of other stakeholders.
The Partnership is focussed on identification and management of pollution in waterways and bays in both urban and rural environments, and the prioritisation and design of interventions for the protection and improvement of waterway and bay ecosystems. As well as helping to inform strategic planning, the research program is designed to be flexible and responsive so that it can also support Melbourne Water’s day-to-day activities. This includes providing direct and easy access to expert advice for Melbourne Water, through co-location of staff (at both Melbourne Water and the Partner Organisation offices) and regular formal and informal interaction opportunities between researchers and waterway managers.
The Partnership complements other key waterway research initiatives for which Melbourne Water is a collaborator (e.g. CRC for Water Sensitive Cities, the Waterway Research Science-Practice Partnership), and is formed as a dedicated partnership between Melbourne Water and the Partner Organisation – such that the research undertaken within the Partnership will be in direct response to the needs identified by Melbourne Water. However, it is clear that the Melbourne Water-focussed research should not be undertaken in isolation and that there are several excellent research groups with whom collaboration will be mutually beneficial. Accordingly, the Research Centre will be established as an open framework to accommodate collaboration, and actively seek opportunities for integrated and complementary projects with other research groups and industry organisations.
Three important concepts to be used by the Partnership include the research ‘Value Chain’, ‘Impact Domains’ and ‘Adoption Pathways’. The Value Chain describes the steps from strategic direction setting to business benefits assessment to ensure that research is aligned with business needs, outcomes are adopted by the business and there is a feedback loop of continuous improvement (Fig. 1). Research Impact Domains are the broad areas of the Melbourne Water’s business where research outcomes have the potential to influence (Fig. 2). Relating to Step 5 of the Value Chain (‘Adoption Implementation and Impact’), the intention of identifying the research Impact Domains early in the project planning stage is to understand the potential business benefits from projects, the likely end users of research outcomes, and the appropriate research Adoption Pathways to achieve business impact (Fig. 3). Not all research projects are likely to impact all domains, and may also shift in Impact Domain focus as the research matures. It is also important to recognise that effective approaches to research adoption are likely to vary depending on the targeted Impact Domain.
Figure 1: The research Value Chain (Inxure Strategy Group 2018)
- Synopsis of the sources and impacts of pollutants on waterways and bays from urban and rural landscapes in the Melbourne Water Region
- Develop efficient and effective indicators and approaches to monitor the performance of stormwater wetlands to inform improved designs, appropriate maintenance regimes and long-term sustainability.
- Identification of cost effective opportunities for addressing pollutants from industrial catchments
- Impacts of sediments from urban and rural stormwater on stream health
- Identifying and managing emerging contaminants of concern
- Understanding the ecological impacts of untreated sewage inputs in waterways
- Understanding the risk of contaminants in environmentally sensitive areas
- Developing methods to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of waterway health assessment within streams, wetlands and estuaries
- What are the effects of chemical frequently used by Melbourne Water along waterways on aquatic ecosystem?
- Understand the impacts of litter, including microplastics, on the social and ecological values of waterways and bays