The Cities as Water Supply Catchments project was established with a clear purpose – to harness the potential of stormwater to overcome water shortages, reduce urban temperatures, and improve waterways health and the landscape of Australian cities.
Through eight unique lines of cross-disciplinary research, we’ve found that water sensitive urban design and green infrastructure could improve the quality of stormwater which runs off our streets and ends up in our waterways – providing an alternative water supply, and reducing the impact of urban heat on hot summer days.
To help cities adopt green infrastructure and innovative technologies, our team developed a range of processes and tools. These included new approaches to strategic infrastructure planning, updated institutional and governance frameworks for entire governments to manage urban stormwater, community engagement processes, and policy and regulatory instruments.
Policy and regulation around the country has also been directly influenced by our work. Many municipalities have adopted a water-sensitive approach to urban water management in their policies.
For local government, urban planners, and healthcare services around the country, our heat vulnerability maps have provided significant information to help improve emergency management. We’ve run strategic planning processes for the water industry, so they can find the best ways to tackle future uncertainties. And we’ve also developed the Water Sensitive Cities Toolkit – a software-modelling tool that supports the design of more sustainable, liveable urban places – as well as a first-of-its-kind model that simulates probable rainfall in four major cities on a more precise level.
The success of the Cities as Water Supply Catchments initiative has given industry and government bodies tangible evidence to start embracing innovative water management in their planning and decision-making processes – and led to the Australian Government granting Monash and its consortium partners the AUD$120 million Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities in 2011.
As we continue to find innovative ways to deliver water services, we are taking our work to developing cities in the Asia-Pacific – because we know just how much of an impact these approaches will make.