Posted on 29. Jul, 2010 in News

The Victorian Government will provide more water for Melbourne’s sportsgrounds, trees in public gardens and along streetscapes, and will grant households an exemption to allow lawn watering to establish drought tolerant grass, Premier John Brumby announced today. 

From Wednesday 1 September:

  • Councils will be able to water 100 per cent of sportsgrounds, up from 75 per cent, providing a significant boost to community and junior sport;
  • Councils will have more flexibility for watering trees; and
  • Households and businesses can apply for a one-off, 28 day exemption from water restrictions to enable new warm season lawns to be established.


This is in addition to a further 22 billion litres of environmental flows which started to be returned to the Yarra and Thomson rivers last week.

Mr Brumby said Victoria’s improved water security from the Government’s water projects, conservation and better rainfall meant more water could be provided to households, sportsgrounds, farmers and rivers.  

“Families are doing their bit by restricting their personal water use to 155 litres a day and our Government is taking the tough decisions to drought-proof the State for the future,” he said.

“This is good news for community sportsgrounds, for the trees that line our streets and parks, and for households that can now re-establish a lawn that will use very little water.

“The big difference for Melbourne is the certainty we have from our new water sources. We’ve reconnected the Tarago Reservoir, built the Sugarloaf Pipeline and the desalination plant will begin supplying water from the end of next year.”

Melbourne’s water storages are currently 35.9 per cent of capacity or more than 160 billion litres better off compared to the same time last year when they were 27 per cent. Melbourne households are on Stage 3 water restrictions and Target 155.  

Mr Brumby said by converting inefficient English-style lawns to water-efficient warm season grasses, we could revive Melbourne lawns and maintain them with very little water.

“Although water is required in the 28 day establishment period, in the long term warm season grass uses a lot less water than other grass. Couch, Buffalo and Kikuyu thrive throughout spring and summer on little rainfall – making them well suited to Melbourne’s changing climate,” Mr Brumby said.

“An exemption has been used successfully in other states and Victoria’s water authorities and councils have used warm season grasses on community sportsgrounds.  For the average Melbourne backyard, water use is likely to be reduced by 70 per cent.”

The exemption will apply for installing pre-grown turf and for sowing grass seeds but are limited to one exemption per property per year.

Water Minister Tim Holding said Melbourne households could obtain the grass exemption between September and March by visiting their local water authority’s website or by calling them directly.

“The simple online application process provides all conditions for the exemption, installation tips and an exemption certificate to display outside properties,” Mr Holding said.

“After the 28 day exemption, households will have to adhere to water restrictions which prohibit lawn watering, however there are no restrictions on captured rainwater or greywater.”

Nursery and Garden Industry of Victoria Chief Executive Officer Steven Potts said the changes would have a positive effect on jobs in the nursery, turf and landscape industries.

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