Sustainable urban water management for improved micro-climates – the ‘Cities as Water Supply Catchments’ research program

A. Coutts, J. Beringer, M. Loughnan and N. Tapper – Presented at the Ninth Symposium on the Urban Environment, Keystone (CO), USA, August 1-6, 2010.

Abstract:
Water and climate change adaptation and mitigation are currently dominant public and political issues in Australia. In particular, Federal and State Governments are working to secure water supplies for both a growing population and for the environment at a time of drought across much of the populated parts of the country – a drought that many have linked to climate change.
In Australia’s major cities, stormwater harvesting has the potential to provide a low cost, low energy, fit-for-purpose source of water to help secure city supplies. Other potential benefits of stormwater harvesting and reuse in the urban landscape include improved river health outcomes, and improved urban micro-climates, which will also have implications for human health. However, stormwater harvesting is being embraced to varying degrees by State Governments, the water industry, and the community.
A national research program called ‘Cities as Water Supply Catchments’ has commenced – funded by industry stakeholders and all levels of Government across four major cities – aimed at providing a strong evidence base for mainstreaming stormwater harvesting in Australia.
This 5-year inter-disciplinary program involves 8 sub-projects including: the design of sustainable stormwater harvesting technologies; new governance, policy mechanisms and servicing models; and an assessment of the micro-climatic benefits of stormwater harvesting and management solutions.
Stormwater is rapidly exported out of the city. In combination with drought and water restrictions (in some cities) this leaves the urban landscape very dry, creating unfavourable micro-climates. The urban micro-climate project will undertake a combination of observational and modelling approaches to measure, demonstrate, and project the effectiveness of stormwater harvesting and water sensitive urban design as an approach for improving urban micro-climates.
This paper will provide an overview of the context for the ‘Cities as Water Supply Catchments’ program, a description of the overall program, and then focus in on the green cities and micro-climates sub-project.

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