The mission of the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities is to:

  • research interdisciplinary responses to water problems

  • synthesise diverse research outputs into practical solutions

  • influence policy, regulation and practice to promote adoption.

As we publish this—our 200th edition of waterSENSE—its immensely satisfying to see how recent activities and outputs are bringing the three elements of our mission together.

Our early years rightly focused on creating new research—developing the new technologies, tools and practices that will create more resilient, liveable, productive and sustainable cities and towns. And over the past 12 months, we have accelerated our efforts on helping you—the user—to apply this research to solve water problems.

In this edition of waterSENSE, you’ll find four stories that showcase our efforts to promote wider adoption of water sensitive principles and practice.

The first item discusses a new report about six Australian cities that have created their own water sensitive cities vision. The report builds on research from IRP1 (Water sensitive city visions and transition strategies), which developed visions and transition strategies for Perth, Adelaide, Bendigo, Sydney, Townsville and the Gold Coast. The report compares and contrasts these cities’ unique experiences and relationships with water, synthesising this information to offer insights and transferrable lessons to help other Australian cities and towns drive their own WSC visions. The six case study cities share common drivers, trends and experiences, such as using urban water management to increase Aboriginal connection to Country.

All six cities are proceeding with their own transition, and with every step and every new project are providing more evidence about how to apply and implement the WSC approach.

You’ll find a good example in Bendigo. Water Sensitive Bendigo is the cross-agency partnership now responsible for progressing Bendigo’s transition to its water sensitive future, building on the work done in IRP1. One of the group’s priority actions is Wanyarram Dhelk, a project to improve Bendigo Creek and its tributaries, and the focus of our second item in this edition of waterSENSE.

This important project demonstrates how integrating Traditional Owner knowledge with water sensitive design can help restore cultural, social and environmental values to a degraded urban creek. Dja Dja Wurrung members have deep connections with the waterways and understand how Bendigo Creek should look, smell, sound and feel. Creating a sequence of alternating pools and riffles along the length of the creek has returned natural sounds to the creek and removed pollutants that meant it didn’t smell right, allowing the water to heal. Traditional food and fibre plants can now be harvested and used in traditional / customary practice.

Projects like Wanyarram Dhelk provide an evidence base for practitioners, helping to influence practice and promote adoption. The CRCWSC is also influencing practice by incorporating water sensitive principles into industry projects and formal guidance. Our third WS item talks about our Queensland Regional Manager Chris Tanner’s involvement in producing the newly-released Street Design Manual: Walkable Neighbourhoods, prepared by the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia Queensland.

Chris helped boost recognition of water in street corridors for the part it plays in urban cooling, amenity, flood resilience and stormwater management and irrigation reuse. This contemporary guide for the design and development of Queensland’s residential neighbourhoods, developed by industry for industry.

The CRCWSC is also working to influence wider urban water policy and regulation by participating in policy reviews like the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into National Water Reform. Our fourth WS item outlines some of the main points from our submission to that inquiry. We proposed several core reforms required to transition Australian cities and towns to water sensitive cities. We consider these reforms will resolve the fragmentation of accountabilities across multiple parties and provide agencies with funding to deliver integrated water services.

Thank you for your continued support of the CRCWSC and our mission. We will continue this focus on finalising research and supporting adoption and mainstreaming activities during our final year. The culmination will be the Water Sensitive Cities Conference 2021 on 15–16 March 2021, a celebration of nine years of collaboration between industry, government and researchers to create resilient, liveable, productive and sustainable cities and towns.

Last updated: 29th Sep 2020