Oral Presentation 9th Australian Stream Management Conference 2018

Were load-based stormwater objectives a necessary mistake to progress water sensitive urban design? (#88)

Andrew H O'Neill 1 , Glenn Browning 1 , Tony Weber 2
  1. Healthy Land and Water, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
  2. Alluvium Consulting, Brisbane, Qld, Australia

Stormwater pollution from urban development has been slowly degrading our treasured coastal waterways. Following some early successes in holistic approaches to urban water management (water sensitive urban design) in Queensland and Victoria, load-based stormwater pollution regulations were introduced, along with some other local areas around Australia, which led to construction of a large number of stormwater quality improvement devices. While the objectives were developed with some focus on waterway health, the dominant paradigms were simplicity and economic feasibility. It was not predicted that this paradigm would result in approaches that were focused solely on water quality, and many of the potential co-benefits of good integrated water management would not be realised.

Could it be that load-based objectives were a wrong, but completely necessary step towards a more holistic integrated approach?

In an attempt to answer this question, in 2014 Water by Design set out to develop a new policy framework to encourage approaches to urban water management that create multiple benefits. Living Waterways was developed to help councils and utilities articulate their desired urban water outcomes and incentivise an integrated approach for both new development and retrofit projects. The framework has been highly successful, having been adopted into local councils planning schemes in Queensland, by the Queensland Government into State Planning Policy guidelines and by utilities and councils in New South Wales through both development and retrofit of urban catchments.

In this presentation we will provide an update on the implementation of Living Waterways, including details of a recent update to incorporate detailed waterway health, resilience and strategic planning modules in an easy to use online scorecard. We also present a closely linked project where we are working closely with the Queensland Government to tie waterway health and community outcomes more strongly to policy and design objectives.

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