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Greening of our communities through stormwater innovation

July 29, 2016

Stormwater management is no longer the sole domain of the calculator toting, brown suited engineer.  The industry is broadening to include the black skivvy types – yes, that means landscape architects and urban designers. This is all in the pursuit of urban greening and more liveable communities through innovation in stormwater management.

The Hon. Karlene Maywald, strategic advisor to SA Government and former Water Minister, put a challenge to the stormwater management industry in her keynote address at the Stormwater SA Excellence Awards held at Adelaide Oval last Wednesday, 6 July. “We need to rethink how we communicate with the general public about stormwater. Stormwater when captured and re-used can sustain our green spaces.  Perhaps “living water” would resonate with the community and decision makers to better reflect the potential of this valuable resource to transform parks and streetscapes, creating the places we want to live in,” Ms Maywald espoused.

Excellence in Strategic and Master Planning winner – City of Unley’s Towards a Water Sensitive City, WSD Implementation Strategy. Image: Avenue Street, Millswood

The “black skivvies” could offer the vital connection between stormwater, green landscapes and places for people that is currently missing.  Moving to a more integrated approach for the design of our cities and towns within which a variety of disciplines combine their collective skills and knowledge is undeniably the way of the future.

L-R Karlene Maywald, keynote speaker. Photo: Mark Dohring. Murray Bridge stormwater harvesting scheme 110 ML. Mount Barker Environmental Service Centre wetlands Photo: Designflow.

L-R Karlene Maywald, keynote speaker – Photo: Mark Dohring. Murray Bridge stormwater harvesting scheme 110 ML. Mount Barker Environmental Service Centre wetlands – Photo: Designflow.

In a project that demonstrates how we can cater for urban growth in a sustainable manner, the District Council of Mount Barker succeeded in the Excellence in Integrated Stormwater Design category at the awards, for the Mount Barker Environmental Services Centre wetlands.  “The wetlands environment provides habitat for the Lathan’s snipe, a migratory bird from Siberia, as well as being a valuable recreation node for the community along a linear trail,” says project designer Robin Allison of Designflow.  “The achievement of these multiple benefits is a testament to the collaboration between the ecologist, landscape architects, engineers and community.”

Category 4 winners, SA Water - Adelaide Airport irrigation trial

Excellence in Research and Innovation winner – SA Water & Adelaide Airport Limited’s Adelaide Airport Stormwater Irrigation Trial – Determining the Multiple Benefits of Irrigated Vegetation.

City of Unley, winners of the Excellence in Strategic or Master Planning category, have addressed the challenge of sustaining their green city streets through the development of a water sensitive urban design strategy. “Council now has a clear plan to ensure future streetscape, park and road upgrades incorporate features to harvest and re-use stormwater at the source,” says General Manager Assets & Environment, John Devine.  “Solutions include permeable pavements and raingardens to support sustainable greens spaces and promote infiltration of stormwater, reducing pollutant laden runoff reaching local creeks and ultimately the coastal marine environment”. Reflecting their commitment to providing one of Adelaide’s greenest Council areas, the City of Unley also took out the Excellence in Asset Management award for efficient management of their green infrastructure.

“We need to bring about a culture where water sensitive urban design is widely embraced, supported by an industry equipped with the skills to deliver best practice in the field,” urged Keith Downard, Chair of Water Sensitive SA, winners of the Excellence in Policy and Education Award.

Congratulations to Water Sensitive SA partners Rural City of Murray Bridge and SA Water for their category awards.

Winners of the Excellence in Infrastructure category, Rural City of Murray Bridge with an urban landscape once scarred by the impacts of themillennium drought, have turned their water fortunes around. “When Council’s River Murray water licence was drastically reduced we knew a switch to an alternative sustainable water source was needed,” reported Council CEO, Michael Sedgman.  “Council has developed a stormwater harvesting network and reuse scheme that stands to provide greater water security into the future.  We now look forward to summers where turfed playing fields are maintained to a high quality and local parks and streetscapes provide irrigated, shady refuges that will enable our community to continue to enjoy the outdoors as the mercury rises.”

In a warming climate, stormwater will become an increasingly important resource to support efforts to mitigate the urban heat island effect.  Research by SA Water into the cooling benefits of irrigated vegetation received the award for Excellence in Research or Innovation.  “The project compares the temperature differences in irrigated open space compared with unirrigated areas in a trial at the Adelaide Airport,” reported Greg Ingleton, Manager Environmental Opportunities at SA Water. “We are investigating the potential benefits that could be realised if the entire airside area of the airport was irrigated in the future. These benefits include improved aesthetics, operational energy savings in buildings and possible aircraft operational fuel efficiencies during take-off. The initial results indicate an average difference between irrigated and unirrigated areas of 2.4 degrees C and up to 3.8 degrees C. This could potentially influence how we manage open space in residential zones and other areas, as we look for ways to cool our cities during extended hot periods.”

The winning project in each of the six excellence categories will now represent South Australian at the Stormwater Australia National Excellence Awards to be held early September in Queensland.

Sturt Reserve, Murray Bridge. Photo: Rural City of Murray Bridge. Randolph Avenue. Photo: City of Unley.

L-R Sturt Reserve, Murray Bridge – Photo: Rural City of Murray Bridge. Randolph Avenue – Photo: City of Unley.

Winners & awards

Category 1: Excellence in Strategic and Master Planning

Sponsored by Plumbing and Pipeline Solutions (PPS)
Winner:  City of Unley’s Towards a Water Sensitive City, WSUD Implementation Strategy
City of Unley, Walbridge & Gilbert Consulting Engineers, Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges NRM Board

Category 2: Excellence in Infrastructure

Sponsored by CAMCO
Winner:  Murray Bridge Stormwater Management and Reuse Scheme
Rural City of Murray Bridge, Southfront, Leed Engineering and Construction

Category 3: Excellence in Asset Management

Sponsored by Cooke Precast Solutions (CPC)
Winner:  City of Unley, Integrated Asset Management Project
City of Unley

Category 4: Excellence in Research and Innovation

Sponsored by CSIRO
Winner:  Adelaide Airport Stormwater Irrigation Trial – Determining the Multiple Benefits of Irrigated Vegetation
SA Water & Adelaide Airport Limited (AAL)

Category 5: Excellence in Policy or Education

Sponsored by Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board
Winner:  Water Sensitive SA – Capacity Building Program
Water Sensitive SA

Category 6: Excellence in Integrated Stormwater Design

Sponsored by Tonkin Consulting
Winner:  Mt Barker Environment Services Centre Wetlands
Mount Barker District Council, DesignFlow & Taylor Cullity Lethlean

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