13 July 2022

What water solutions does Sunbury prefer for the future?

What we wanted to know

The Phase 3 community research program for the project took place from November 2021 through to mid-2022.

This phase built on previous engagement phases of the project and tested the community panel's recommendations with a broader sample of the community. This included the panel recommendation of treated stormwater to drinking.

This community social research program tested the broader community's preferences for using stormwater and recycled water for different uses through an online survey and deep dive workshops.

Here is what we asked community members:

  • How does the community prioritise future water management
  • How comfortable is the broader community with both recycled and stormwater uses
  • How do the community feel with using treated stormwater as drinking water
  • Any community concerns and considerations for using treated stormwater for drinking
  • How do the community feel using stormwater / recycled water for agriculture or environmental flows.

What we heard

Online survey findings

Survey participants strongly support the below top three preferences for using treated stormwater (refer to image below):

  1. watering public spaces and parks
  2. capturing rainwater gardens and household non-drinking use, and
  3. environmental flows in creeks, rivers and local waterways.

The engagement findings also found that survey respondents most preferred option for use of recycled water was for watering public spaces and parks.

Virtual deep dive workshops findings

Four virtual deep dive workshops were held with a broad range of community members. We wanted to test some of the findings from the online survey with these workshop participants.

Some of the concerns raised from these workshops, when discussing drinking treated stormwater, included:

  • Pollutants going down drains and concern about how the stormwater would be treated
  • Needing more information, and assurance that they can trust the quality
  • Preferring to drink “natural” supplies and use stormwater for non-drinking purposes, “until we’re in a really desperate situation”
  • Concern that the cost of treatment and delivery of potable treated stormwater would be prohibitive.

  • Informational video

    We also wanted to understand if information sharing influenced how participants preference the use of stormwater for different end uses, an informational video was shown to do this. The video explained how well each end use would help to address local environmental and water supply challenges. It was found there is little understanding and knowledge within the broader community on the below topics:

    • Environmental flows and how this may help protect the environment
    • Recycled water, what this is and how it is treated for alternative water use
    • Stormwater, what this is and how it is treated to make drinking water.

    Below are quotes shared from deep dive workshop participants, after viewing this video. Participants explain how with science-based information, this helped provide them with a better understanding on stormwater end uses, and gave them an opportunity to make a more informed decision when voting for their preferences.

    Next steps

    Thank you to everyone who participated in the community research program and shared their views.

    Your priorities and preferences will help shape Sunbury’s Water Future. The feedback and themes that have emerged on the participants preferences and priorities for how we will make alternative use of stormwater once it has been collected will be considered in the development of the Integrated Water Management Plan for Sunbury.

    Over the next 12 months the project team will be delivering and/or considering the below:

    • ongoing technical investigations of stormwater and recycled water re-use
    • alignment with existing works in the Sunbury region
    • collaborative development with key partners and stakeholders
    • Phase 4 engagement for the Sunbury Integrated Water Management project will occur in the coming year

    We will also be responding to the questions from this recent research program and share these in the FAQs section of this project website

    The next phase of the engagement program, Phase 4, will focus on developing and delivering key topics for information sharing to better support the community learning and understanding on stormwater and its end uses. Considerations from previous engagement, that will need to be considered in the development of this include:

    • Access to information on the overall water system
    • Familiarisation with harvesting and water treatment processes (help to alleviate concerns relating to public health)
    • Demonstrate consistency and quality of water.

    Engagement and research will continue until 2024 when the plan is due to be delivered, so please follow the Sunbury Water Future project page for updates.

    If you would like to read more about the phase 3 community research program, you can download the detailed research report below. If you need assistance interpreting this document's contents, please contact our Communications and Engagement Advisor and they will arrange a time to step you through it.