Transitioning to a Water Sensitive City: The Case of Melbourne

(2010 – current)
Briony Ferguson

This PhD explores the concept of a ‘water sensitive city’ and how urban areas can make the transition to sustainable water management, particularly in the context of climate change and other future challenges.

The project is a case study of changes in Melbourne’s water system and has two main areas of analytic focus. The first explores empirical evidence of the historic and more recent developments in Melbourne’s water servicing, with the aim of understanding how and why these significant changes have occurred. The second utilises scenario planning, visioning and backcasting techniques in a series of workshops to envision Melbourne’s future as a water sensitive city and identify possible pathways for transformative change to achieve this ideal future.

Results from this research are expected to give insight into the key social and institutional dynamics that constrain and enable the transition to a water sensitive city. The project aims to use these insights to develop an operational tool that strategic planners, policy-makers and decision-makers can use to diagnose critical mechanisms of transitional change processes to inform the design of strategic action.

This research contributes to Monash University’s involvement in the EU 7th Framework PREPARED project, which aims to develop an interdisciplinary computer-aided strategic planning tool that can be used to explore the dynamic interplay between society, urban form and water infrastructure in cities. See the PREPARED section of this website for more information on this international research program.


Prof Rebekah Brown and Prof Ana Deletic

Publications (link)

Links to PREPARED FP7 project:

Internal Links:
Urban Water FuturesUrban Water Governance Program
DAnCE 4 Water Program – Dynamic Adaptation for eNabling City Evolution for water