Fishermans Bend Water Sensitive City Strategy

June 7, 2022
Fishermans Bend in Melbourne will be Australia’s largest water sensitive urban design project – the vision is to create a thriving place that exemplifies environmental sustainability, liveability and innovation.
Guiding this vision is the Fishermans Bend Water Sensitive City Strategy. The strategy builds on 3 overarching pillars: Flood management, Climate resilient water system and Urban ecology.

The strategy uses a ‘hybrid’ solutions approach to deliver these 3 pillars by integrating across scales (precinct-wide and street-scale as well as initiatives for individual buildings) and with combinations of green, grey and existing infrastructure.

Individual integrated water management (IWM) solutions in the strategy include:

  • a precinct water recycling plant and third pipe network to deliver water security, reducing potable water use
  • integrated water sensitive urban design features at the street scale, including distributed storages in open space, raingardens and tree pits
  • green roofs, green walls, and smart rainwater tanks in individual buildings to reduce flooding and support Green Star sustainability measures
  • traditional “grey” civil engineering infrastructure of pipes, pumps, and levees to ensure protection from Yarra River overflows and flood management during times of high rainfall.

Meredith Sussex AM (Chair of the Fishermans Bend Development Board) highlighted the collaborative nature of development in Fishermans Bend:

‘Responding to the challenges of climate change and water management in Fishermans Bend requires a collaborative and collective effort. The Water Sensitive City Strategy provides a foundation for the urban renewal of Fishermans Bend to set a benchmark for sustainable and resilient transformation.

‘This innovative approach to water management builds on the sustainability and liveability goals for Fishermans Bend and will inform further detailed infrastructure and public realm planning for the precinct.’

The strategy was developed in partnership with the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR), the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Melbourne Water, South East Water, the City of Melbourne, the City of Port Phillip, the Office of the Victorian Government Architect and Water Sensitive Cities Australia.


We have been involved in Fishermans Bend since 2014, when as the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities (CRCWSC), we were invited to help with planning:

  • In 2015, we collaborated with partners to produce Ideas for Fishermans Bend, which demonstrates how a water sensitive and low carbon approach can effectively deliver aspirations for leading edge innovation in water services and liveable precincts.
  • In 2018, we facilitated 2 workshops with key stakeholder organisations to integrate the functional objectives from each organisation into the concept design and infrastructure planning for Fishermans Bend precincts.
  • We also further developed the collaborative approach embedded in the strategy.
  • In 2019, we were part of a collaboration led by GHD to develop the Fishermans Bend Urban Ecology Study, which has been released with the Water Sensitive Strategy.

Professor Tony Wong (CEO of the former CRC for Water Sensitive Cities) reflects on our connection with the project:

‘The majority of key stakeholder organisations were partners of the former CRCWSC, so we were uniquely placed to foster the collaboration and innovations. I am delighted that the fruits of our partnership are now well embedded in the strategy’.

See the strategy, video and reports here