Docklands, MelbourneDocklands, Melbourne. Image by Ian Buck

In order to manage, you must measure. But how do you measure positive city outcomes such as liveability, productivity or resilience? As cities face the rising challenges of climate change, urbanisation and environmental impacts, new ways are required to understand how our cities are performing and where investment will best deliver holistic, enduring and high-return solutions. Responding to this need the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities (CRCWSC) developed the Water Sensitive Cities (WSC) Index. The Index offers users the ability to benchmark and rank cities (at the metropolitan or municipal scale), based on performance against a range of urban water indicators that characterise the water sensitive city. It also facilities the development of targets and informs management responses to improve water sensitive practices.

Through the planning and delivery of the Index and a WSC conceptual framework, urban areas can exploit the synergies between local water management and urban greening while creating resilient and liveable neighbourhoods. This is typically achieved by strengthening governance arrangements, building community capital, and investing in multifunctional adaptive infrastructure.  This is complemented by the provisions of high quality and connected open spaces, protecting and enhancing ecological values of the urban landscapes, and recreating a more natural water cycle that restores soil moisture while reducing stormwater runoff.

The Index is supported by a web platform to enable visualisations of benchmarking results for a range of audiences, including policy makers and service providers. The E2Designlab team provided the technical lead for the reconceptualization of the Index's indicators and their ratings to measure performance as well as the framework for structuring the analysis of the results and outlining suggested management actions based on the latest research insights.

City State Benchmarking exampleCity State Benchmarking. Source: CRC WSC 

E2Designlab has partnered with Foundry and the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities to benchmark municipalities across Victoria and Western Australia. In addition to the greater Melbourne region, the following municipalities have now been benchmarked:


  • Moonee Valley City Council
  • City of Knox
  • Mildura Rural City Council
  • City of Manningham
  • Shepparton Rural City Council

Western Australia:

  • City of Perth
  • City of Canning
  • City of Mandurah
  • City of Cockburn

The Water Sensitive Cities benchmarking and assessment report for Moonee Valley City Council is publicly available. Click here to view.

Water sensitive cities benchmarking and assessment: Mooney Valley City CouncilWater sensitive cities benchmarking and assessment: Moonee Valley City Council. Source: CRC WSC 
Interested in transitioning to a water sensitive city? Click here to learn more or contact E2Designlab at: [email protected]