The Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities has partnered with local, state and federal governments, consulting engineers and private industry members to create a water management plan for the future of Bendigo.
CRCWSC research officer Emma Church said the project’s purpose was to deliver a suite of methods and tools that developed strategic guidance for cities and towns wanting to accelerate and build momentum for the transition towards their envisioned water sensitive future.
“In the future we may have different climates, challenging economic conditions and a growing population with different demands on water for lifestyle and recreation purposes,” Ms Church said.
International interest has grown from governments, organisations and communities in the liveability, sustainability, productivity and strength of cities.
There is normally an agreement regarding these aspirations as decision-makers are challenged with determining how to productively change our cities to achieve the outcomes.
Ms Church said the term ‘water sensitive city’ was the label given to cities where the policies and practices associated with delivering water system services enabled broad liveability, sustainability, productivity and resilience outcomes.
Monash University is an essential participant in CRCWSC’s projects that are based in Victoria.
CRCWSC has multiple water sensitive projects nationwide and is partnered with 80 participants across Australia.
The Bendigo project is guided by a local steering committee with representatives from the City of Greater Bendigo, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Coliban Water, Urban Forest Consulting, North Central Catchment Authority and Birchgrove Property.
Dja Dja Wurrung have also been involved with the project’s vision for Bendigo.
Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation chief executive officer Rodney Carter said it was a fantastic project and they were glad to be involved.
“The plan is visionary and strategic in regards to long-term planning which I believe in terms of water as a finite variable resource is needed,” Mr Carter said.
I would like to see the community lead this and develop a vision of where they want to go and articulate that so we can work together and assess opportunities.Christine Grundy, Coliban Water
Coliban Water’s water and sewer planning manager Christine Grundy said this was an opportunity to work with researchers to understand what the community wanted for the future of the city.
“We’re working very closely with the COGB to look at opportunities in a range of places, but particularly where there are new developments,” Ms Grundy said.
“We’re interested to see where we can get involved at the ground level and look at innovative design that cherishes and conserves water as much possible while responding to community needs as well as meeting our compliance obligations.”
Ms Grundy said everyone that was involved within the project so far had brought their best ideas to the table, which ensured they were being captured for the project.
“These ideas have not been costed yet, but this is about creating a vision. There is a lot of work to do to move from a vision to reality,” Ms Grundy said.
“The project has a community focus and a 50 year outlook to the future.”
Ms Grundy believes that making water available to the community is important so “people can create the green spaces they want for the city”.
“Things like recycled water, collecting storm water and using it for localised wetlands, dams and pools enables the community to enjoy the water,” Ms Grundy said.
“I would like to see the community lead this and develop a vision of where they want to go and articulate that so we can work together and assess opportunities.”
COGB team leader sports fields Roger Barbetti said his department were a large user of water and his input to the project was his knowledge of how it was used.
“To maintain our open spaces, sports fields and gardens...there is a high expectation on the standard of those facilities that’s entirely dependent on using water for irrigation as well as storm water, and how we can better design our facilities,” Mr Barbetti said.
Mr Barbetti said he was a part of the project to learn about the future of water use in the city and how the COGB can influence some of the project’s findings and support its initiatives.
“The last few years we’ve had good rainfall, there’s plenty of water in our storage. But history tells us we don’t have to wait long as those conditions may not always prevail,” Mr Barbetti said.
“We need to be in a position for when conditions alter through drought and climate change that we are better prepared and we can continue to provide our facilities with minimal impact to the users.”
“The key is to ensure sports fields and passive spaces around the city such as heritage gardens are continued to be kept in good condition and survive dry times.”
“As a council we have the responsibility to keep them in good order for the residents of the city.”
The CRCWSC was established as a research centre in July 2012 and combines multiple disciplines, industry experts and leaders that want to change water management within the country and overseas.
The plan is visionary and strategic in regards to long-term planning which I believe in terms of water as a finite variable resource is needed.Rodney Carter, Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation