IF THE wars of the future are to be fought over water, the past couple of years will have left the Victorian Government well prepared.
For a Government seemingly in control of its destiny for much of the past eight years, water shortages have given the Bracks and Brumby Governments their strongest reminder of political mortality.
Once a low-profile portfolio focused on plumbing, water was transformed into a bigticket policy item by plummeting rainfall and dwindling reservoir levels.
Water dominated the 2006 state election campaign, when brown gardens and strict water restrictions made water shortages impossible voters to ignore.
Few things illustrate the extraordinary change in water policy better than the Melbourne 2030 blueprint.
Its predictions that "existing storages" would adequately provide for Melbourne's drinking needs in 2030 now seem hopelessly wide of the mark, and highlight the seismic shift in Victoria's climate.
Just five years later, in 2007, $4.9 billion in water projects were announced for Victoria, including the north-south pipeline and a desalination plant for Melbourne.
Yet despite the massive investment in new, guaranteed sources of water, a growing number of water experts say the Government must continue to do more, and many of those experts are pointing in a common direction.
The urgency of their calls relates to a major piece in Melbourne's water jigsaw puzzle, which is expected to fall into place by the end of this year.