New guidelines have been developed and trialled in Australia to assist urban stormwater managers to assess options for projects that aim to improve urban waterway health. These guidelines help users to examine the financial, ecological and social dimensions of projects (i.e. the so-called “triple-bottom-line”). Features of the assessment process described in the guidelines include use of multi criteria analysis, input from technical experts as well as non-technical stakeholders, and provision of three alternative levels of assessment to suit stormwater managers with differing needs and resources. This paper firstly provides a background to the new guidelines and triple-bottom-line assessment. The assessment methodology promoted in the new guidelines is then briefly summarised. This methodology is compared and contrasted with European guidelines from the “SWARD” project that have been primarily developed for assessing the relative sustainability of options involving urban water supply and sewerage assets. Finally, the paper discusses how assessment methodologies that evaluate the financial, ecological and social dimensions of projects can, under some circumstances, be used to evaluate the relative progress of options for urban water management on a journey towards the widely pursued, but vaguely defined goal of “sustainable development”.

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