Posted by Kristyn Maslog-Levis on Tue, Feb 11, 2014 @ 7:32 PM
A Water Sensitive Urban Environment:
Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) is also known as Low Impact Development (LID) in the United States, and Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) in the United Kingdom.
It all refers to the land planning and engineering design approach that integrates the urban water cycle, including stormwater, groundwater, and wastewater management and water supply, into urban design. This is done to minimise the environmental degradation as well as improve the look of the area.
Why use WSUD? According to the guidelines released by the South Eastern Councils in Melbourne Victoria, WSUD has been identified as a “means to control flows and filter stormwater to remove pollutants”.
Stormwater is the water that runs off urban surfaces after heavy rainfall. The report said it has been identified as the key cause of pollution and declining health of waterways.
“With increased urban development, the proportion of impervious surfaces in our catchments increases. This increases the velocity and amount of water running into our waterways, creating problems of erosion and flooding and changing natural flow regimes, with associated ecological damage. It also washes more pollutants into our streams, further impacting river health.”
Victoria councils, like other councils in Australia, have recognised the importance of sustainable water management such as WSUD. The release of various guidelines enables organisations to have a first point of reference for their projects.
The design “integrates urban water cycle management with urban planning and design, with the aim of mimicking natural systems to minimise negative impacts on the natural water cycle and receiving waterways and bays”.
Some of the key principles of WSUD as stated in the Urban Stormwater: Best Practice Environmental Management Guidelines (BPEMG) include:
- Protect and enhance natural water systems within urban environments.
- Integrate stormwater treatment into the landscape, maximizing the visual and recreational amenity of developments.
- Improve the quality of water draining from urban developments into receiving environments.
- Reduce runoff and peak flows from urban developments by increasing local detention times and minimising impervious areas.
- Minimise drainage infrastructure costs of development due to reduced runoff and peak flows.
Australian states started to release WSUD guidelines based on the federal government’s foundational research in the 1990s. Western Australia first released theirs in 1994 followed by other states like Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and so on.
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