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Asian Development Bank team studies innovative urban water initiatives in SEQ

IWC recently conducted a study tour for a team of professionals from the Asian Development Bank, comprising urban infrastructure specialists, water supply and sanitation practitioners and agricultural specialists, show-casing a number of innovative urban water initiatives in South East Queensland.

These diverse initiatives included:

  • strategies to secure long-term urban water supplies for South East Queensland (SEQ)
  • policy innovation driven by the success of large-scale catchment partnerships delivering improved water quality through evidence-based science
  • strategies for the promotion of wastewater reuse
  • urban development design and implementation fostering innovation in reuse of stormwater
  • innovations in drainage and urban flood management, and
  • discussions of challenges for planning large-scale urban developments with perspectives from local government and developers.

The  Asian Development Bank (ADB) team studied strategies for water utilities to foster innovation in water supply and waste treatment by researchers from the Advanced Water Management Centre at The University of Queensland.

A reduction in alum dosing at water treatment plants prevents large scale H2S formation in sewers, and potentially can save millions of dollars in sewer rehabilitation costs. Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR), now a mainstream wastewater treatment process, also shows excellent promise for a range of animal waste products. Studies on the management and capture of Carbon for energy, Nitrogen and Phosphorus for fertiliser and treated wastewater for reuse showcased technologies required for water scarce environments.

The Healthy Waterways program is world renowned for its ability to deliver evidence-based science that leads policy and management decisions in catchment planning and point source control.

The ADB team spent the morning understanding the partnership approach adopted by Healthy Waterways and the evolution of the annual report card on the health of the river and estuarine systems. In the afternoon, they met with the SEQ Natural Resources Management group, a Healthy Waterways partner, to discuss land use planning, riverside rehabilitation and water quality monitoring.  

Figure 1The team also spent a day with the Brisbane City Council, learning about the WaterSmart Strategy. This included an understanding of the flood preparedness six-part strategy and several on-site visits. They participated in a tour of a major arterial waterway in the city highlighted on-ground flood control, looking at an innovative remote catch and release mechanism for a stormwater weir and runoff harvesting and reuse for drought proofing in an urban environment.

They also reviewed the stormwater harvesting system from a 30-hectare catchment coupled with the backwash for the swimming lagoon treated prior to irrigation of the large open space and recreational area of South Brisbane.

On day four, the group discussed the demand management strategy managed by the Queensland Water Commission during the millennium drought of 2004 -2009. The discussion focused on the highly successful program to reduce daily water use from 330 L/person/day to 140 L/person/day through public education, water restrictions and government subsidiaries for water tanks and other household infrastructure. A follow-up presentation on the major infrastructure built and managed by SEQ Water Board during the millennium drought included the desalination plant at the Gold Coast and recycled water plant at Luggage Point and Bundamba.

This centralised water delivery system was then compared with innovative technologies for decentralised stormwater and rainwater harvesting systems at a precinct scale during a site visit to Fitzgibbon Chase urban development. A comparison of the policy mixes, regulations, governance reform, infrastructure and community engagement was also discussed. 

To conclude the week, a discussion of the challenges and opportunities for innovative urban water management for a 100,000-people planned residential development at Ripley, west of Ipswich, was undertaken with state and local government representatives, major developers and the CRC for Water Sensitive Urban Cities.  

The last activity by the team members was a review of the innovative strategies being undertaken by the ADB in urban management, with successes and challenges identified to further enhance water management innovation delivery in the urban landscape. 

 

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