Water Journal : Water Journal June 2015
14 Industry News water June 2015 IT’S TIME TO USE OUR STORMWATER, SAYS ATSE Australian towns and cities are drastically underutilising stormwater, missing out on the chance to reduce pollution and erosion of urban waterways, says the Australian Academy of Technical Services and Engineering (ATSE). Stormwater is a valuable potential resource to provide a significant alternative water source for a range of productive applications, but its full potential is still to be realised. Existing technologies are capable of providing stormwater capture, but water governance rules need updating to take advantage of stormwater potential. These were key aspects of ATSE’s submission to the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee Inquiry into Australia’s stormwater resource. The Academy said better management of urban stormwater was essential as the current poor management of stormwater led to societal, economic and environment costs through flooding and degradation of waterway and bays. ATSE Water Forum Deputy Chair Professor, Ana Deletic FTSE, led the development of the submission and re-emphasised ATSE’s position on stormwater when she appeared at a Committee hearing in Melbourne in May, along with ATSE’s Executive Manager of Policy and Projects, Dr Matt Wenham. ATSE made five recommendations on how to better use Australia’s stormwater in Australia, including: • Further development of stormwater harvesting technologies; • Wider implementation of these systems to relieve pressure on ageing drainage infrastructure; • Development of economic models to better understand the total community costs and benefits of complex stormwater systems; • More sophisticated governance frameworks for managing multi- functional and decentralised stormwater assets, in an area that is traditionally highly centralised; and • Better linkages between stormwater management and urban planning processes. ATSE noted that uncontrolled stormwater damaged urban infrastructure during large storm events and ongoing investment would be needed to ensure that drainage systems met service needs, amplified by ageing drainage infrastructure, rapid increases in urban population and the densification of cities. It also noted that extensive impervious (or paved) areas in cities pushed excessive stormwater flows into waterways, causing erosion and pollution. Stormwater could also carry large amounts of heavy metals and nutrients, which can increase the risk of algal blooms. ATSE emphasised that the full potential of urban stormwater was still to be realised, given its volume and location. It noted that the volume of stormwater discharged from houses annually in Melbourne was similar to the entire household water demand of the city, while in Brisbane it exceeded demand by around 50 per cent. Stormwater generally required less treatment than other wastewater sources, such as sewage or industrial waste, and it could be harvested through passive treatment and distribution methods, based on natural processes, with much less energy than many other water treatment and supply solutions. Stormwater harvesting could protect and enhance the health of urban streams by restoring flows and water quality to approximately pre-development levels and was the only water source whose use would benefit the environment, rather than degrade it. ATSE also noted that Australian communities were more prepared to accept stormwater re-use than wastewater re-use and that more than 100 stormwater harvesting systems were built during the Millennium drought in Victoria, largely without participation from the water industry. REGISTRATIONS OPEN FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT NSW WATER MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE The 2015 Local Government NSW Water Management Conference will be held from 24 August to 26 August at Peppers in Craigieburn, Bowral, New South Wales. The conference will look at innovation in operational practice of council water utilities and showcase examples from Wingecarribee Shire Council, such as an in-situ demonstration of ice-pigging (cleaning drinking water pipes with slush ice) and sophisticated pressure management and leak detection. David Harris, CEO of Water NSW, will discuss the impacts and challenges related to drinking water catchment protection requirements. A conference site visit will explain Wingecarribee Shire Council’s sewerage strategy, dealing with Water NSW’s stringent catchment protection requirement, and showcase related facilities such as the Robertson Sewerage Treatment Plant 2000EP with its unique membrane filtration. The theme ‘Challenges of Water Transfer Schemes’ will shine the spotlight on the local Shoalhaven Water Scheme and the Goulburn Water Supply Pipeline. Delegates will visit Wingecarribee Dam and examine parts of the Shoalhaven Water Scheme infrastructure. A separate conference stream will discuss other council transfer schemes such as the recently completed Macquarie River to Orange pipeline. uncontrolled stormwater can damage urban infrastructure.
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