Victoria Lake

Stormwater storage in the harbour.

Victoria Lake, the idea of “closing” Victoria Harbour to the sea and allowing it to slowly fill with rain/storm water and the flow from the Moonee Ponds Creek, is a 15-25 year vision. It includes a potential water storage solution and a much larger sustainability vision for the Docklands, and resulted from a workshop that investigated available storm water sources and suitable storage options.

Within the water and climate change debate, ideas of water storage often arise. Melbourne needs to find ways to store rainfall, run-off from roads, parks and buildings (that usually ends up as storm water) as this is particularly useful for purposes which do not require high quality fresh water.

Melbourne’s parks and gardens and street trees are an example of such water use. Replacing the use of high quality water with storm water gathered from “Melbourne as a Catchment” releases equivalent amounts of potable water for use in other areas which are more dependent upon high quality water sources. Melbourne City Council (MCC) has been using around 1500 megalitres per year for landscaping; until recent policy changes this water was from the reticulated supply. The MCC has committed to reducing demand by 30% and meeting more than 60% of the remaining demand from recovered water.

Storm water is a distributed resource and, as water is costly in economic and energy terms to transport, it is best to store water in a distributed way for local use. However water storage is also costly – about $250,000 for every 1million litres.

Rough calculations suggest that the annual requirements for parks located around the botanical gardens and along St Kilda road could be met with water from Victoria Lake via a pipe laid under the Yarra from the Lake to a point east of Flinders street.

Sources of water would come from the Creek and from impermeable surfaces of the surrounding areas, such as City Link and Southern Cross station. It is possible that by transforming the area into freshwater catchment the Docklands could be transformed into an eco-village; high rises could be vertical villages, vacant areas transformed into wetlands; distributed aquaculture production is possible, as is localised renewable energy production. The Docklands might just be transformed into the exemplar urban eco-village of the southern hemisphere. Could the Docklands become carbon neutral?

This big vision is worthy of investigation. We are currently in discussions with the partner universities to see which academic disciplines might be involved in further developing such a vision. If this intrigues you please contact us and leave your thoughts below.

Victoria Lake emerged from a water workshop conducted with members from the Autumn 2007 Hub and special guests including Rob Adams (Melbourne City Council), and Professor John Langford for University of Melbourne, UniWater.

It is a large scale vision rich with many areas of design interest. The vision has resonances with “a highly serviced life”, a glimpse of living in a vertical community in 2032.