Program: Waterwise Perth action plan 2019

A Waterwise Perth is cool, liveable, green and sustainable – a place where people want to live, work and spend their time.
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Perth city buildings and Elizabeth quay

The Waterwise Perth Action Plan 2019 was the first of successive plans to transition Boorloo (Perth) to a leading Waterwise city by 2030.

The south-west of WA is one of the world’s regions most affected by climate change. Western Australia used to get 420 billion litres of water running into our dams each year, but with climate change significantly reducing rainfall since the mid-1970s, we can now expect just 25 billion litres. To ensure our city can remain beautiful, green and liveable, we must act now to be more Waterwise.

The first action plan called on everyone in the community to play a role. State Government, councils, industry, individual businesses and households all worked together to help secure our water future by taking actions aimed at reducing per-person water use in Boorloo to 110 kL a person per year.

The first plan set the groundwork to respond to the impacts of climate change on Boorloo’s water supplies and meet the water needs for a growing population. It outlined the actions to be taken in the first two years of this journey and established a solid foundation for the successive plans needed to achieve our 2030 targets.

These actions were set out at different scales; from household to precinct, suburb and city scale, and also included actions for government to take as a driving leader for change.

Eight State Government agencies collaborated to deliver 38 actions within the first Waterwise Perth Action Plan, all contributing towards making Boorloo (Perth) a leading waterwise city. The scorecard below shows some of the impressive cumulative water efficiencies we have collectively achieved up to September 2022, and how the action in the Action Plan contributed to urban greening, increasing the tree canopy and mitigating heat, as well as to community engagement and education.

Waterwise Perth action plan 1 infographic

Now implementation of the first waterwise plan is finalised, the second waterwise plan, Kep Katitjin – Gabi Kaadadjan Waterwise Perth Action Plan 2 will continue this journey of collaboration and coordination across a broader partnership of 11 State Government agencies, to deliver important waterwise outcomes.

Launched on 17 October 2022, Kep Katitjin – Gabi Kaadadjan will deliver an ambitious scope of work across State Government with a greater focus on engagement with Whadjuk and Bindjareb Noongar people, climate resilience and adaptation, and water quality and ecological health.

Delivering the first Waterwise Perth Action Plan

Transitioning to a leading Waterwise city means changing the way we manage water in our urban landscape between now and 2030. This change can only be delivered by the joint efforts of State and local government, Traditional Owners, the community and urban development industry.

Partnership approach

The first action plan was drawn from the ideas and actions of over 200 stakeholders from all sectors during extensive consultation in 2018. Commitments were made from across government, including from the departments of Water and Environmental Regulation; Communities; Finance; Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries; Planning, Lands and Heritage; and DevelopmentWA; METRONET and the Water Corporation.

Ongoing consultation, design and testing of new actions was carried out in collaboration with the already established and involved Water Sensitive Transition Network. This is a group of leaders from across State and local government, industry, research and community organisations, working together to support Perth’s transition to a waterwise city. We also continued our relationships with Water Sensitive Cities Australia (which arose from the now completed Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities).

The success of this whole-of-government approach has led to three more agencies joining the collaborative effort to deliver the next significant step in the waterwise journey, through Kep Katitjin – Gabi Kaadadjan.

While recognising that many people from community, industry and local government organisations were already leading the way individually in waterwise practice, working collaboratively has allowed us to push boundaries and develop leading on-ground waterwise outcomes. The new plan features case study examples of where this has created exceptional spaces – see page 30 for a description of the Wharf Street Smart Park, and page 37 for the Gold Waterwise Development OneOneFive Hamilton Hill. Both projects sought to increase engagement and involve Noongar people, who are the original stewards of this landscape and its water.

As Indigenous knowledge and connections to Country are vital for sustainability and healing Australia, Kep Katitjin – Gabi Kaadadjan has an even stronger focus on integrating First Nations values and knowledge systems into our water planning, management and care for Country, through the inclusion of three specific Noongar engagement actions, as well as a commitment to looking for opportunities in every one of the 41 actions to walk together, understand, and integrate Noongar values and knowledge.

Monitoring success and adapting our action

As successive action plans will be needed to achieve the targets by 2030, an annual report card on progress was developed. Successful implementation of this action plan and subsequent plans are measured by:

[1] The term ‘Boorloo’ often refers to the city of Perth, but in the context of the Waterwise Plans includes the city and the broader region including the north-west, north-east, south-west, and south-east sub-regions of the Perth metropolitan region.

Household and building

We will assist Perth households to save water through practical water saving solutions.

Waterwise household and building logo
  • Use the results of the Water Corporation’s H2OME study to design programs and incentives to assist households to reduce scheme water use. (WC)
  • Reduce water consumption in Department of Communities public housing properties through water audits and education to reduce water consumption, lower living costs and increase water knowledge. (DoC)
  • Develop a voluntary residential point of sale Water Rating Scheme so new home-buyers and renters can identify opportunities for water savings. (DWER)
  • Use the results of garden bore studies to design programs to reduce domestic groundwater use. (DWER)

We will increase water savings in new homes

  • Increase building industry compliance with the Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme. (DWER)
  • Explore raising water efficiency standards through the National Construction Code for Waterwise built form. (DWER)

We will encourage the community to value water by improving water knowledge

  • Initiate a long term education and engagement program. (DWER)
  • Expand the Waterwise Schools Program to double the number of students participating to 50 000 by 2030. (WC)
  • Broaden the content of the Waterwise Schools Program to deepen understanding of the total water cycle and Aboriginal cultural connection to water. (WC)
  • Initiate a behaviour change program to encourage a 10% reduction in domestic groundwater use by 2030. (DWER)

Targets (to be achieved by 2030)

  • Reduce average annual scheme water supplied to 110kL per person
  • Increase community engagement and knowledge about water by 15% (from 6.2 in 2018 to 7.1 out of 10 water knowledge questions answered correctly by 2030) (as measured by the Waterwise Cities Community Tracker).

Legend for Lead Agency: DOC = Department of Communities, WC= Water Corporation, DWER = Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.


Precinct and suburb

We will create more urban green spaces.

Waterwise precinct and suburb logo
  • Transform eight drains or basins and surrounding land into living streams and parkland in partnership with local governments. (WC)
  • Increase green space in urban environments through the Waterwise Greening Scheme. (WC)

We will create climate resilient public open space, sporting grounds and recreational venues

  • Invest in infrastructure to support local government and the not for profit sector to improve the water efficiency of aquatic facilities, sports grounds and other community infrastructure.
  • Review groundwater allocation plans for Gnangara, Cockburn, Perth South and Jandakot and Serpentine to manage groundwater levels for wetlands, urban trees and for irrigation of green spaces. (DWER)
  • Implement an urban forest tree canopy program to plant trees in high urban heat risk areas. (WC)
  • Increase participation in the Waterwise Golf Program to reach another 22 golf courses. (DWER)
  • Extend and enhance the Waterwise Councils program to recognise 100% of councils as Gold by 2030. (DWER)
  • Work with local governments to overcome barriers to implementing alternative water source schemes. (DWER)
  • Determine feasibility of alternative water supplies for public open space in areas without groundwater available including the north east corridor. (DWER/WC)
  • Assist all Perth and Peel aquatic centres to be recognised as Waterwise by 2030. (WC)
  • Assist schools, universities and other institutions to reduce groundwater use through a new Waterwise Grounds Program. (DWER)

We will encourage new developments, including those in infill areas, to be more waterwise

  • Government to set clear criteria for classifying ‘good-practice’ waterwise urban development. (DWER)
  • Explore mechanisms to encourage good-practice and innovative waterwise urban development. (DWER)

Legend for Lead Agency: DLGSC = Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, WC= Water Corporation, DWER = Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.

Targets (to be achieved by 2030)

  • 100% of Perth and Peel Councils achieve Waterwise Gold status.
  • 50 or more land and water assets are retrofitted to improve local community access to green spaces.
  • 100% of irrigated open space has been audited and is adopting Waterwise management practices.
  • 10% less groundwater is used across the region.
  • Recycled and alternative water supplies will make up 45% of the projected gap between future water demand and supply.

City and urban

We will increase Indigenous engagement and participation in water resource management.

Waterwise City and urban logo
  • Work with Noongar people to scope how they would like to be engaged in delivering Waterwise outcomes for Perth and Peel. (DWER)
  • Engage Noongar people to collect Noongar environmental and cultural knowledge for case study localities in Perth, to inform development of a process for Noongar participation in water management planning and design. (DWER)

We will update Government policies to normalise best Waterwise practice

  • Initiate a review to consolidate, streamline and improve the suite of water policies, guidance and technical advice to drive Waterwise outcomes. (DWER)
  • Consolidate, streamline and improve water-related state planning policy, guidelines and associated processes to strengthen Waterwise outcomes at all levels of land use planning. (DPLH)
  • Commence the alignment of water planning, health, recreation and other policies to ensure consistency and reduce red tape. (DWER)

We will undertake detailed water planning in priority areas

  • Deliver integrated water management planning at district, catchment or corridor scale to support land planning and development in priority areas. (DWER)

We will improve information to assist Waterwise planning and implementation

  • Explore collaboration with industry, local governments and the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities and other research organisations to extend science and modelling to support water planning and policy. (DWER)
  • Develop a proposal for a data sharing platform to house government and developer water data and spatial information for modelling to increase efficiency. (DWER)

Legend for Lead Agency: DPLH = Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage, DWER = Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.

Targets (to be achieved by 2030)

  • Best practice Waterwise policies are integrated into all State urban water policies, guidelines and technical advice notes

Government leading

We will improve water efficiency in government owned buildings.

Waterwise government leading logo
  • Upgrade to Waterwise products and fixtures in Department of Communities public housing properties when maintenance occurs. (DoC)
  • Require capital works undertaken by the Department of Finance to comply with the targets within the NABERS Base Building Ratings and Building Council of Australia Green Star building design requirements, as per the Sustainable Non-residential Government Buildings Policy and guidelines. (DoF)
  • Require tenancy fit-outs undertaken by the Department of Finance to comply with NABERS Tenancy Ratings and Building Council of Australia Green Star fit-out design requirements targets within the Government Office Accommodation Policy and Guidelines, which set minimum standards for energy and water efficiency, including appliances. (DoF)

We will show leadership and demonstrate innovation in Government led development

  • Showcase innovative Waterwise outcomes in key Government developments to evaluate, share and inspire adoption in the private sector. (DoC and DevelopmentWA)
  • Embed Waterwise outcomes into the design of METRONET precincts. (METRONET Office)
  • Include good-practice Waterwise outcomes as standard into the design of Government led urban development in Perth and Peel. (DoC and DevelopmentWA)
  • Trial residential point of sale Water Rating Scheme in Department of Communities Affordable Housing Sales Program properties. (DoC/DWER)

Legend for Lead Agency: DoC = Department of Communities, DoF = Department of Finance, DWER = Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.

Targets (to be achieved by 2030)

  • 100% of government-led urban development in Perth and Peel to be Waterwise