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Prime Minister Announces Urban Stormwater Harvesting

Under a new plan unveiled by the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, stormwater will be harvested in urban areas around Wyong, on the Central Coast of NSW, treated and re-introduced into the water cycle to maintain natural flows and water levels in the Porters Creek wetland area. This project comes at a cost of $16M, and involves a mix of local and federal government fund. From the Prime Minister’s Website:

Harvesting Stormwater to protect the Porters Creek Wetland – 23 August 2006:

I am pleased to announce that the Porters Creek Wetland Stormwater Harvesting project on the Central Coast of New South Wales is the eighth New South Wales project to receive funding from the Australian Government?s Water Smart Australia Programme. Wyong’s population is expected to increase by 40 000 by 2025. Australian Government funding of $2.6 million toward a $16 million investment will help protect a significant wetland area in NSW from stormwater that will flow from urban development in the catchment.

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Environmentally Focused Burial

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Having just attended a funeral, and having seen the casket and burial up close, I’m fairly aware of the presentation side of the burial process. My grandfather died last week, and was buried within three days, the casket was closed during the funeral, but it made me wonder if the funeral directors had used any embalming solutions, or if natural processes were allowed to take their course.

The burial plot where my grandfather rests is under a great big eucalyptus tree on a gentle slope, his resting place is beautiful and a pleasant visiting place for our family. Certainly, we don’t often think much about our own death and what we would like to have done to our bodies. The furthest that most of us get is when we are filling out our legal will, which in the majority of cases doesn’t go so far as to specify embalming treatment, type of casket, clothing etc.

Green-burial movement gets more ambitious | By Gregory Dicum | Grist Magazine | Main Dish | 27 Jul 2006:

“I’d prefer to be put in the ground, under a tree,” says Joe Sehee, contemplating his inevitable demise. “But I don’t want to go in the ground with anything, I just want to be buried in a simple pine box or shroud, and that’s it.”

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A Brief Argument Against Stormwater Pipes

Some History

Urban stormwater systems were historically designed to move water away from built up urban areas, using big lined channels and smooth pipes to quickly and efficiently remove this water to prevent flooding and inundation. As roof areas and impervious paving increased the volume of runoff increased and the need for efficient stormwater systems was born.

In today’s regulatory environment, there is still a definite bent toward the hard engineering forms of stormwater management , particularly pits and pipes, mainly because these systems remove the water from the roads and roofs quickly, maintaining safe driving surfaces and minimised downtime of any services or routes.

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Converting Waves to Electricity

I love to hear about alternative power systems that use novel technologies or techniques to improve on existing methods of generation. I think BioPower Systems is one of those companies that has a really good idea, that needs to be heard. The technologies are pretty “simple, as they say, inspired by 3.8 Billion years of evolutionary optimisation.

BioPower Systems – Biologically Inspired Ocean Power Systems:

img_biowave.jpgBioPower Systems Pty. Ltd. is commercialising award-winning bio-mimetic ocean energy conversion technologies. We have adopted nature’s mechanisms for survival and energy conversion in the marine environment and have applied these in the development of our proprietary wave and tidal energy systems.

Our technologies inherit benefits developed during 3.8 Billion years of evolutionary optimisation in nature’s ocean laboratory.The resulting systems move and sway in tune with the forces of the ocean, and naturally streamline when extreme conditions prevail. This leads to low design thresholds and associated low costs.

The inherently simple bioWAVE” and bioSTREAM” devices are designed to supply utility-scale grid-connected renewable energy using lightweight modular systems. These systems will reside beneath the ocean surface, out of view, and in harmony with the living creatures that inspired their design.

The BioWave system mimics seaweed or kelp swaying in the current. As the wave action sways the fins back and forth, power is generated.

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Newcastle Transport corridor for Sale

Imagine the headlines:

Newcastle Transport corridor for Sale

The State Rail Authority today announced the sale of the rail corridor land between Hamilton and Newcastle stations, freeing the way for Newcastle City Council and local developers to join the foreshore and the city at last. The Newcastle Rail Alliance and Hunter Rail Heritage groups have begun a joint legal challenge in the courts, but finding little support from the Novocastrians who travel into the city and harbour foreshore region for work and recreation.

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Recycling… the subdivision way

Kerb-side recycling collection is a reality in many parts of Australia and other countries, and is being suggested or introduced in many areas that have depot drop-off sites or no separate collection at all. Often at depots, people expect to be paid to bring in their recyclables, or at least some of them, and with kerb-side collection, people expect to be offered the service for free or a very small nominal sum as there is a perception that someone is making money off the recyclable materials being well… recycled into new products.

And fair enough, if council is willing to collect all that material, do some rudimentary sorting of it, then finds a market to sell it to, well they should be entitled to make money off it right?

Well it seems that the problem is two fold, people are not recycling enough of what they are disposing, (some reports suggest it is less than 50%), and secondly, the markets are not taking up the recycled material as content in their products.

Simplicity

Kerb side recycling has gone a long way to exposing people to the ease of recycling their waste, but even with the dispose and forget about it simplicity from the householders perspective, there is a definite lack of awareness as to what products the local council area actually does accept and in what state. Regular waste reporting back to the community might help, informing them of percentage improvements in waste disposal practises, even rewarding sections of the community for the greatest change in habits over a given time frame. Rewards could include reduction in council rates, (which won’t necessarily work for rental properties) or vouchers for free products or services. Current collection practises would probably need to modified slightly to achieve this, however, most landfill areas where this could work would have a weigh bridge facility capable of recording the distribution of waste over the time frame.

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Walking around on the grass

What do you get when university students aren’t even allowed to walk or sit on the grass on campus? I imagine it would be something like this…

Inhabitat Blog Archive GRASS WHEEL:

A group of students from Dalhousie School of Architecture decided to remedy this problem with a street-ready grass-lined wheel. The wheel is of simple construction – just plywood, mesh, fishing line, and sod, but it’s loaded with meaning. On one hand, it’s a playful protest to the lack of public green space in Halifax. On the other hand, using sod for their material offers a deeper critique on urban greenery. (Photo by Andre Forget – Click on the image to see more of his work).


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Universities have long been a source of activism, but this

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Trading Trees for Development

Hardie Holdings is on of New South Wales’ largest land developers, and particularly in the region we live and work in, the Hunter Valley, it is the largest land holder. As such, it was of no surprise to me when the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Hardie Holdings was one of the first developers to embrace the State Government’s new land trading scheme.

This policy has obvious benefits to the government and the developer. The government can invest less time in costly environmental court battles over proposed developments, instead, the land value (from an environmental perspective) will have been declared well in advance, so it will be a simple hectare for hectare of same kind land trading.

The developer runs less risk in choosing land to develop, as the government will not require detailed environmental assessment.

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