Water wise


A Monash University led research centre has been established to help Australian cities better plan for the challenges of population growth and the effects of climate change on
water supply.

James Gallagher (left) from development agency VicUrban with centre
co-directors Associate Professor Rebekah Brown, Professor Tony Wong
and Professor Ana Deletic at Officer, a new development in Melbourne's
south east that is planned around water sensitive urban design.

The Monash University Centre for Water Sensitive Cities, consolidates Monash University's research and development in advancing sustainable cities and will link 45 researchers and PhD students from the faculties of Engineering, Arts, Science, and Business and Economics.

Centre for Water Sensitive Cities co-director Professor Tony Wong said the centre would explore best practice methods of implementing water sensitive urban design at a government, industry and community level.

"Implementing water sensitive urban design, including building rain gardens, wetlands and ponds to capture and clean stormwater for reuse, will improve liveability and visual and recreational amenity, and improve the health of our urban waterways," Professor Wong said.

The centre has also announced its first research project, the $18.8 million Cities as Water Supply Catchments research program, which will address key issues of water security, sustainable urban water management, governance and the liveability of urban environments by focusing on the harvesting of stormwater.

The program, established in collaboration with the University of Melbourne, University of Queensland, and engineering company AECOM, will develop world-first water sensitive guidelines and blueprints to support the wide-scale integration of new stormwater management practices into existing infrastructure, and into the planning of new urban developments.

Professor Wong said the capture and use of stormwater would deliver a suite of benefits not currently available in any other water supply management strategies, such as reduced demand on potable water sources, reduction in urban temperatures and reduced erosion and pollution of waterways.

"These benefits can be introduced progressively as part of the normal urban development and renewal process at a significantly lower cost than alternative water supply strategies," Professor Wong said.

The research program has been developed with significant input from key investors including the National Water Commission, state agencies, local governments, and water utilities in Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland.

The centre is an initiative of the Monash Sustainability Institute and was launched by Victorian Minister for Water, Tim Holding.