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Around the world, we are seeking ways to deliver cities that are liveable and sustainable. Water is at the heart of this quest.

W

Fluid solutions for liveable cities

Dr Ryan Signor*

ater contributes to live-

unlock the opportunity water creates for live-

something to celebrate. The focus on providing

ability through the services

able cities. The hard part is determining what

diversity and resilience in water supply and

and values it provides,

mix of investment in efficiency, infrastructure,

the changes in community expectation and

including productivity op-

community facilities, smart technology and

behaviour that bubbled over during the mil-

portunities, public health,

other things will prolong the community benefit.

lennium drought will carry on for generations.

urban climate control,

What’s guiding us? Communities are cre-

Streetscapes are changing as rain gardens,

green space and amenity, senses of place,

ating a growing demand for water systems

permeable pavements, stormwater systems

recreation, irrigation and ecosystem services,

that add value to the urban landscape. At the

that incorporate wetlands, ponds and water

among others. To realise these, it needs to

same time, urban areas are being gentrified

harvesting are routinely being considered and

be managed sustainably — from how we deal

and expanded. To keep pace, designers and

delivered. Water recycling schemes around the

with flood and drought, keep it clean and

developers seek quick and accessible guid-

country are operating. ‘Water sensitive urban

safe, source and use it, keep it affordable

ance on water management. These include:

design’ is business as usual, not a buzzword.

and reliable, and so on. Recently, the water services industry

• blunt instruments such as regulated water planning rules, laws and standards;

However, time and again I have watched planners, designers, engineers and managers

has shifted its focus accordingly to embrace

• persuasive instruments that include nation-

be blinded by seeking ‘compliance’ with the

these ideas. At least in Australia’s capital

al, state and local guidelines, scientific and

various instruments. In our hasty reliance on

cities, the utilities and planning authorities

academic advice, and industry guidance;

these, might we be giving away some of our

are placing customer, community and live-

• voluntary instruments such as community

ability to innovate? Consider the story of a

ability at the centre of strategic planning and

liveability and sustainability rating schemes

moving towards ‘whole water cycle’ thinking

like the Green Building Council Australia’s

A greenfield site developer wants to deliver

and water-sensitive urban design. The main

‘Green Communities’ scheme, which

a leading sustainable and liveable community,

driver of this is need and good intention —

sets stretch goals for meeting liveability

with the highest ‘Green Communities’ rating

resources are limited and we want to make

indicators.

targeted as the main measure. A system is

sure they are properly allocated. Done well,

Is it working? The increased awareness

developed that goes far towards meeting

such integrated urban water planning will

around integrated urban water planning is

the most ambitious targets for water-related

48 Sustainability Matters - Apr/May 2016

recent urban development project:

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Sustainability Matters Apr/May 2016  

Sustainability Matters is a bi-monthly magazine showcasing the latest products, technology and sustainable solutions for industry, governmen...

Sustainability Matters Apr/May 2016  

Sustainability Matters is a bi-monthly magazine showcasing the latest products, technology and sustainable solutions for industry, governmen...