The Victorian Water Minister has visited the City of Kunshan (Jiangsu province, China) to further progress the bilateral Victoria–Jiangsu Memorandum of Understanding: a commitment between the two governments to cooperate in their efforts to improve urban water management. The Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities (CRCWSC) was pleased to ensure the Hon. Lisa Neville's first-hand look at water sensitive projects in Kunshan.

Since the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities (CRCWSC) led a trade mission of industry-based partners to the City during February this year, there has been a buzz of collaborative activity based on turning Kunshan into a water sensitive city.

After working with the CRCWSC on 30 initial projects, Kunshan has since planned hundreds of “sponge city” – the Chinese term closely related to a water sensitive city – activities to increase sustainability and reduce flood risk. The demonstrations are part of a 10  ha Innovation Park, which will incubate new water sensitive cities technologies with the help of Australian government agencies, industry, and researchers.

“It’s important to share Victoria’s best practice policy and innovation with our global neighbours, to enhance sustainability in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Minister Neville, who met with the Jiangsu Department of Housing and Urban-Rural Development in Nanjing.

“We’re promoting Victoria’s water management expertise, services and urban design to support jobs and grow the Victorian economy.”

Hosted by Deputy Mayor Xu Minzhong and accompanied by officials from the Kunshan Bureau of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and the Kunshan City Construction, Investment, and Development Company, the Minister also visited a number of Kunshan’s sponge city projects implemented with the help of the CRCWSC and some of its Small and Medium Enterprise Associate Partners.

One such visit was to the sentinel pits – durable, passive, stormwater treatment systems that do not use vegetation – recently installed by Envirostream Solutions (Enviss). These were a direct outcome from the trade mission near the start of the year.

Minister Neville also visited Innovation Park to see its condition before construction, and to be briefed on the design – led by the CRCWSC, with contributions from Realm Studio, BKK Architects, E2Design Lab, and Monash Architecture. The first stage of construction is expected to be completed within 2018.