Project Round
Project Number
Research Organisation
Racing Victoria Limited

Drought Proofing Horse Racing in Victoria

The Challenge

Racing Victoria Limited is the peak body of the Victorian thoroughbred racing industry. They play a major part in organising the Spring Racing Carnival and its highlight event, the Melbourne Cup.

Due to prolonged drought conditions and water restrictions, the thoroughbred racing industry in Victoria had been at risk of not receiving adequate water supplies to ensure the continued well being of the industry.

Around 860MLof water is consumed per year throughout eleven metropolitan racing venues, of which up to 650ML is taken from the public water supply. Over 70 per cent of the overall water demand is for irrigation of the courses, with the remainder being used for domestic appliances, racehorse facilities or irrigation of gardens.

This challenge was to replace 450ML of irrigation water with an alternative supply and to replace domestic appliances with more water efficient variants to save a further 28ML per year.

The Project

The Smart Water Fund provided a grant of id=”mce_marker”00,000 to investigate alternative water supplies and to improve water management for the eleven racing venues around metropolitan Melbourne.

The study was undertaken in two phases. A preliminary investigation of current racecourse practices was conducted to develop a framework to guide possible alternative sources and methods before the undertaking of a more detailed review of the individual racecourses.

The Outcome

Lessons Learnt

The study identified potential sources of irrigation water such as:

  • Collection of rainwater/stormwater
  • Surface water abstraction
  • Groundwater abstraction
  • Effluent reuse
  • Sewer mining
  • Combinations of the above sources.

The study also considered potential water conservation opportunities at each site including:

  • Use of waterless track technology
  • Water recycling
  • Improved efficiency and effectiveness of water application and irrigation systems
  • Water efficient outlets, and other related opportunities.

Racing Victoria’s Manager Major Projects, Hamish Scott, said the study revealed how a significant amount of potable water could be saved through the implementation of water saving measures.

“Over the next few years we hope to be achieving our targets through efficient water management and water collection through alternative sources,” said Hamish.

“Thanks to the Smart Water Fund, this study has allowed us to identify areas where we can reduce our dependence on the public water supply while keeping our tracks green and our facilities fully functional.”

The Benefits

As a result of the study, some venues have already implemented measures to supply alternative sources of water and are not reliant on the public water system except for domestic requirements. At other sites, plans are already well advanced to reduce reliance on the public supply, whilst at the same time ensuring security for drought periods.

The study recommended all courses except Sandown and Healesville produce plans for implementation of drought-proofing schemes as well as audits of domestic and sanitary appliances be undertaken to check for any leakages or faults for repair.

It was also recommended that the proposals for Cranbourne Training Centre and Cranbourne Racecourse be promoted as a demonstration project for the use of site drainage and treated effluent for irrigation needs.

Supporting documents