Water(way) sensitive urban design – a model for reef protection and community wellbeing (13150)
Queensland planning laws require urban development to minimise the impact of altered stormwater hydrology and pollutant loading to waterways. The desired approach for managing water in the urban context is through the application of the principles of water sensitive urban design (WSUD). In addition to minimising the impact of urban development on local waterways and receiving environments, such as the Great Barrier Reef, the application of WSUD principles has also been shown to substantially reduce development costs as well as provide recreation, amenity and wellbeing benefits for local communities. Currently, the application of WSUD principles does not always take advantage of delivering the multiple benefits available. At times, infrastructure is delivered to local government that is poorly integrated into the landscape and falls short of delivering recreation, wellbeing and amenity benefits. The reasons for these short falls are relatively complex and relate not only to technical design and assessment processes, but also cultural and institutional barriers. There is also growing evidence that an unbalanced focus on achieving stormwater quality objectives is a major culprit.
Through a strong collaborative relationship with the Reef Urban Stormwater Management Improvement Group (RUSMIG), Water by Design is developing a suite of new capacity building products that aim to turn the focus of WSUD back to people and waterways. RUSMIG is an established community of practice with members from the major urban local governments in the reef region, the regional natural resource management (NRM) groups, the Local Government Association of Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Queensland Water Directorate and the Queensland Government. This collaboration is delivering a variety of projects that provide products and services to support urban design practice that maximise value for residents, the development industry and local government as well as the natural environments on which they depend. As the responsibilities of local government increases it is critical to deliver products and services that directly support better planning, assessment, construction and compliance activities. In the current political and economic climate, it is crucial that the development industry and local governments capitalise on the opportunity to implement WUSD that achieves both healthy waterways and liveable community outcomes for the reef region.