Why do we do water sensitive urban design (WSUD)?

We have adopted a water sensitive urban design (WSUD) approach to the management of water within the Blacktown Local Government Area (LGA).  WSUD is the integration of urban planning with the management, protection and conservation of the urban water cycle that ensures that urban water management is sensitive to natural hydrological and ecological processes.

Conventional urban development has a significant impact on the natural environment by altering the water cycle and conveying stormwater pollution to waterways. Urban stormwater is often contaminated with litter, sediment, dissolved nutrients and heavy metals, which can damage the aquatic environment.  Hard surfaces such as roofs, roads and footpaths increase the amount and speed of stormwater impacting on the physical and ecological environment of natural waterways.  In addition, large amounts of drinking water are imported from external catchments, the transport, treatment, storage and distribution of this resource is intensive and costly, so it is important that the water we use is ‘fit for purpose’.

The image below illustrates the modified water balance we are trying to achieve through WSUD.

natural/urban/WSUD water balance comparison image

The benefits of adopting a WSUD and integrated water cycle management approach include:

  • the protection of water quality in our waterways by improving the quality of water draining from developments

  • the reduction in runoff and peak flows through on-site stormwater detention

  • minimisation of potable water consumption through water harvesting and re-use where appropriate

  • blue-green infrastructure in the streetscape can have a cooling effect and buffer the urban heat island effect.

We aspire to become a water sensitive city.  There are three principles that form the foundation for this vision of a water sensitive city: 

  1. Cities as water supply catchments: meaning access to fit-for-purpose water use through a diversity of sources, such as harvesting rainwater and storing it in a rainwater tank for toilet flushing, to harvesting stormwater to treat and use for irrigating sporting facilities.

  2. Cities providing ecosystem services: meaning the built environment functions to supplement and support the function of the natural environment.

  3. Cities comprising water sensitive communities: meaning our community understands the value of our waterways and the value of fit for use water and are behaviours are water sensitive.