Water Journal : Water Journal September 2014
SEPTEMBER 2014 water 33 Feature article to a development are identified and understood, and only those that are relevant require further investigation and response. Although the framework was designed predominantly to support new greenfield and urban renewal projects, its principles and requirements should be considered for infill situations as well, in order to address the requirements of State Planning Policy 2.9: Water Resources (2006) and deliver more compact cities. Key urban water planning needs for infill situations include the capacity of drainage networks to cope with additional flows, which also provides opportunities for retrofitting; the capacity of wastewater service networks and opportunities for alternative provision; and water availability for irrigation/maintenance of public open space, as this becomes even more important for the community through increased usage. recognIsIng the valUe of Urban Water plannIng Early outcomes of the urban water planning process were celebrated, as they showed vision, innovation and technical excellence. The development industry embraced the objectives of WSUD and worked in partnership with state and local government to deliver improved water quality outcomes, recharge opportunities and high-quality public open spaces (Figures 2 and 3). However, the roll-out of the process across the state over the past five years has highlighted a number of issues that are now hindering implementation. Although the development industry is supportive of the need to better manage our water resources, urban water management is increasingly being seen as just an approval requirement, with limited integration occurring through the planning and design process. This significantly reduces the opportunity for good water planning to add value to the development outcome and ultimate community. Industry capacity building programs such as Clearwater in Victoria and New WAter Ways in WA, recognise that a wide range of stakeholders and disciplines are involved in the achievement of WSUD and that all need to understand and support the requirements at each stage of the planning and development approvals process. This necessitates the engagement and education of planners, engineers, landscape architects, contractors, asset managers and parks staff, which is difficult to achieve and maintain. It is further complicated by the need to understand and support the different roles and responsibilities of regulators and industry. It is recognised that good urban water planning requires a certain level of technical knowledge and expertise. Although it is possible to suggest that outcomes can be achieved that are consistent with defined urban water management criteria, it is more difficult to actually demonstrate it. In difficult sites, such as those with wetlands or high groundwater, this justification can involve significant investigations, modelling and reporting, all of which add to the time and cost of the approvals process. As with most changes in practice, it is easy to find examples where application of the new concepts has resulted in a less than optimal outcome. In some instances, the actions required to retrofit these areas have been incredibly costly, while in others the problems are still unresolved. These examples provide ammunition for industry and regulators to either require overly conservative responses or return to the “old way” of addressing drainage and water management. The level of support for WSUD solutions is also impacted by a lack of trusted data which demonstrates the performance of individual WSUD treatments under Western Australian conditions. This is being addressed, however, by the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities, which is working to investigate and demonstrate water-sensitive urbanism and future technologies, facilitating adoption pathways where possible. Figure 2. Recognised WSUD best practice in Mandurah, WA.
Water Journal November 2014
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