The Upper Merri Creek sub-catchment includes Melbourne’s North Growth Corridor, which spans three council areas – Hume City Council, City of Whittlesea and the Mitchell Shire Council – and features established suburbs, rural landscapes, creeks, remnant bush and grasslands.

The Merri Creek forms part of the Yarra River (Birrarung) catchment that encompasses the traditional lands of the Kulin Nation, including the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung.

The Yarra River (Birrarung) is a centrepiece of Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Country and serves as a key site for conducting ceremony, trading, fishing and hunting. The Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung have a spiritual connection to the waterway, and Merri Creek is also significant, particularly where the creek meets the Yarra River (Birrarung) in inner Melbourne. Its name is derived from the term ‘Merri Merri’, which means ‘very rocky’, referring to the volcanic rock formations found along the creek.

What are the challenges and threats to the Upper Merri Creek sub-catchment?

Population growth: Water is a valuable resource and the rapid expansion of population in the catchment means water authorities and councils need to proactively plan to ensure there is enough water for people and the environment.

Climate change: Our climate is changing and as the communities across the catchment become less rural and more urbanised temperatures on average will be warmer. As a result, there will be a need to retain water in the landscape to support tree growth and maintain green spaces to reduce what is known as the urban heat island effect (where cities are warmer than rural areas).

Change in land use: If we replace rural land using traditional development models the ‘green’ landscape will shift to ‘grey’ with trees and grassland being replaced by streets, roofs and buildings. Water will have fewer natural surfaces to soak into resulting in greater stormwater runoff and wastewater from houses and businesses.

However, there are also many opportunities. For example, the treatment of wastewater can transform a waste stream into a valuable resource. Recycled water could be used in homes and businesses where drinking quality water is not necessary to flush toilets or water gardens, or for irrigation in a range of settings such as playing fields, horticultural enterprises and industrial uses.