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Melbourne's great water

Every year, on average we supply 130 gigalitres (130,000,000,000 litres) of water to 1.7 million people who live and work in Melbourne's northern and eastern suburbs.

Melbourne's water is naturally better because about 88% of our water comes from natural, protected catchments safeguarded from the pressures of urban and rural development and located to the north and east of the city.

These catchment areas of natural eucalypt forest cover more than 150,000 hectares, with a large proportion reserved for more than 100 years, solely for the purpose of harvesting water. Melbourne is one of only a few cities in the world which has such large protected catchments.

In these catchments and the major reservoirs associated with them, public access, recreational use and any activities which could adversely affect water quality are restricted.

To further safeguard water quality, Melbourne Water, our wholesaler, allows long storage times of water in the major reservoirs. On average, water is stored for up to five years allowing it to be purified through settling and natural disinfection processes. This means only minimal disinfection of the water with chlorine is required to ensure health and safety.

Supplies for our region are principally harvested from the Upper Yarra and Thomson Reservoirs, with a small amount from the Yan Yean and Sugarloaf (Winneke) Reservoirs.

The water from Sugarloaf (Winneke) Reservoir, which is extracted from the Yarra River at Yering Gorge, is subjected to a higher level of treatment, to meet World Health Organisation guidelines.

The methods of collecting and storing means that the water needs only a minimal amount of treatment to ensure it is safe for drinking.