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.

The Porters Creek Wetland Project represents the first targeted harvesting of stormwater from urban areas to maintain an environmental regime in a natural wetland system. Most stormwater systems either discharge with minimal or no treatment to natural water courses, or more recently designs have included engineered wetlands, with performance criteria driving the sizing and shape of these structures.

It’s great to see some government funding in a world-class water reuse project, the next step (which seems to be a political and regulatory minefield) will be harvesting for potable and sub-potable urban uses. When will that be? No one knows.


Fed help for Central coast water project – SMH – Breaking News – National:

Subject to approval by the NSW government, the project would make the central coast the first region in NSW to treat and reuse stormwater flows, he said.

Mr Howard later told a community morning tea at nearby Tumbi Umbi that the stormwater harvesting project would save 5.4 million gigalitres of the region’s drinking water per year.

“We need in this country a lot more recycling of water,” Mr Howard said. “We need to have more aggressive policies to capture stormwater. “And we need to understand there is no one simple, fits-all, silver bullet solution to the problem of water supply. “It needs to be tackled according to the needs and capacities of individual areas.”

Construction on the project would begin on January 1, 2007 and was expected to take 18 months to complete.

Full story here.

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Published by Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.