VEIL part of Future Visioning for Victorian “State of Environment Report” 2008

The Victorian State of the Environment Report, released on the 4th December 2008, presents the VEIL Melbourne 2032 report as an ‘exercise in visioning’ in its final forward-looking section on “Living Well Within the Environment”.

The SOE report has its own ‘2050-looking back’ using the same process of back-casting from a desirable future that is part of the VEIL process. Much of the 2050 vision will be very familiar to the VEIL community. Here is a sample:

Highly distributed production – a new paradigm

Melbourne has become a greater contributor to energy and water production through decentralised water sources (for example, rainwater tanks) and distributed energy generation (for example, domestic solar) rather than absorbing resources from hinterlands. Widespread application of industrial ecology principles have seen waste produced by Victoria’s cities, including organic waste, become feedstock for manufacturing and agriculture. Urban food production supplies a much greater proportion of the food for the city, reducing pressure on Victoria’s rural environments. Rather than being seen as a resource sink and as a burden on Victoria’s natural environment, Melbourne is seen as actively contributing resources to improving the environment of Victoria.

Water supply and the health of rivers

Victorians have abandoned the false assumption that activity can be planned around an historical view of a ‘normal’ rainfall year. Instead, it has become accepted that Victoria is a drying state with restricted water availability. Culturally accepted, sustainable patterns of use, rather than removal of water use restrictions, are now the objective. The old paradigms of gravity-fed water supply and sewage systems based on vulnerable catchment input and sea discharge have been heavily modified into a distributed system that is more resilient to environmental shocks. Via the use of tanks, every house supplies a large proportion of its own water and the third pipe and black water recycling for selected purposes is standard. Intermediate ‘water factories’ recycle water for local and industrial uses at points along the system. At terminal treatment plants, both the recycling of water and the commercial use of effluent have turned these areas into production centres in their own right. Both increased efficiencies and increased demand management have ensured that demand matches available water. Drought tolerant plantings, water sensitive design in all urban developments and a proper understanding of ground and surface water interactions are standard.