Water Sensitive Cities Australia (WSCA) is a research-to-practice partnership supporting cities and towns that want to adopt evidence-based, urban water management solutions.
Our mission is to: help change the way cities are designed, built and managed by valuing the contribution water makes to economic development, quality of life and the ecosystems of which they are a part.
This mission builds on the work of the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities (CRCWSC). We are now a part of Monash Sustainable Development Institute, which has now inherited the CRCWSC intellectual property (IP) after the CRCWSC’s term ended in June 2021.
Adoption typically involves applying new knowledge (e.g. in pilot projects) and using lessons from this application to establish new practices. It involves translating new knowledge into resources such as fact sheets, guidelines, tools, case studies and practical examples of the research in action, which practitioners then use to build their own capacity. Its activities often target end users who are closely engaged in the original research activities.
Mainstreaming moves beyond demonstrating that WSC approaches work in practice. It refers to making them business as usual. We define mainstreaming as activities that help adoption of practices reach a tipping point where they shift from being novel to becoming embedded as a new-normal practice. Our focus is on practices: the behaviours and thinking we want people to adopt.
Our goal is to reach a point where large numbers of cities and towns are planned and built using water sensitive cities practices.
We have developed a 3-year plan to implement our mission, identifying short and medium term strategies.
Over the next 12 months, we’re focusing on 3 strategies:
Strategy 1 – Grow our partner base for greater collaboration and impact.
Strategy 2 – Implement practical projects that maintain momentum created over the past 9 years, show immediate value and demonstrate what mainstreaming looks like.
Strategy 3 – Ensure WSC tools remain accessible and end users are supported.
We also have several strategies to guide our activities in the medium term (2–3 years):
Strategy 4 – Increase WSC Australia partner and stakeholder engagement activities to build knowledge and capacity to apply WSC principles and practices at scale
Strategy 5 – Build the evidence base of mainstreaming, including collecting and reviewing evidence from mainstreaming activities.
Strategy 6 – Reinvest in the WSC tools to develop the next versions and develop a business model for each.
Strategy 7 – Secure a research grant to leverage partnership funding, most likely by partnering with another research group such as MSDI Water.
Strategy 8 – Establish a significant collaboration with a non-water sector partner (e.g. the urban development sector, health sector, insurance sector or related to urban ecology).
Our focus is on mainstreaming existing research and knowledge, rather than on creating new knowledge.
Current mainstreaming projects include:
- releasing an updated version of the Benefit: Cost Analysis Tool
- updating the Value Tool to expand the range of values available
- improving the functionality of the WSC Index Tool
- developing the Management Actions Database to support the Transition Dynamics Framework
- improving community water literacy
- understanding how to better embed water sensitive practices in smaller scale infill development
- applying WSC principles in regional areas, reinforcing that they can be adapted to any context
We welcome partners at 3 levels: tier 1, tier 2 and tier 3. All levels include access to tools and participation in events. The other characteristics of each level are outlined in the table below.
Water Sensitive Cites Australia – Partnership tier levels
|Tier level||Annual cash contribution||Annual in-kind contribution||Other|
e.g. utility, state government agency
|$150,000 and above||Mix of cash in-kind and FTE determined by the partner||Includes Tier 1 privileges such as nominating Advisory Board|
e.g. utility, council, state government agency, consultancy
$50,000 for individual organisations or consortiums
(Smaller councils may join for $10,000)
|0.1 FTE to enable participation in knowledge sharing activities||All the benefits of ordinary membership, including access to tools, input into projects, participation in WSCA events|
e.g. non-government agencies (NGOs), smaller private organisations and sole traders
Scale based on an organisation’s FTE.
Up to $25,000
(NGOs may have a memorandum of understanding with the same benefits as Tier 3, subject to agreement)
|Case-by-case basis||Basic membership, focusing on access to tools and participation in events|
The majority (60%) of partner money goes straight to local projects. Decisions on which projects to pursue are made by local steering committees comprising tier 1 and tier 2 partners.
A quarter (25%) of partner money supports national projects, such as:
- maintaining CRCWSC tools and resources
- supporting national communities of practice
- running national capacity building events
- preparing national and international benchmarking and insight reports
- undertaking national research initiatives
- providing national advocacy
- forging international partnerships.
The remaining 15% supports corporate functions.
We have tier 1 partners in Victoria and Western Australia: Melbourne Water (Vic), South East Water (Vic), the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (Vic), the Department of Water and Environment Regulation (WA), Water Corporation (WA), the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (WA) and the Department of Communities (WA). These partners have generously committed funds and in-kind contributions to invest in dedicated mainstreaming projects.
WSCA works with local governments to :
- develop water sensitive solutions to urban water management issues
- scope and evaluate water sensitive projects
- design and deliver stakeholder collaboration, governance and engagement.
The benefits for councils include:
- discounted or free access to members-only versions of water sensitive tools such as the INFFEWS tools (Benefit: Cost Analysis Tool, Value Tool) and the WSC Index
- access to CRCWSC guidelines (e.g. passively irrigated landscapes) and support to embed them in council activities
- opportunities to shape the next generation of these resources
- support to understand your challenges and tailor solutions that work
- help to understand your progress and adapt to implementation setbacks
- access to national networks, training and knowledge sharing events
- input to nominate and scope new projects
- advocacy for mainstream adoption of water sensitive practices.
You can find more information about how we work with councils in this flyer.
Australian and state and territory governments benefit from:
- evidence to support policy, regulation and strategy that achieves:
- more efficient and effective management of scarce resources
- integrated household, local, city and catchment-scale action
- community resilience and recovery from extreme events
- opportunities from city networks, regional community collaboration and international profile and relationships
- more effective policy delivery through direct engagement with industry opinion leaders and established communities of practice.
Water utilities benefit from:
- piloting and scaling up technologies that better integrate centralised and decentralised solutions and make more effective use of all water sources
- developing planning approaches to better service out of sequence urban development
- developing the case for policy and regulation reform to support innovation and better solutions for customers
- support to move innovation beyond pilot projects to application at scale as part of business of business as usual practice
- stronger business cases and better answers to the question of who should pay and how?
Water practitioners and consultants benefit from:
- early access to emerging research knowledge and tools, providing market advantage
- enhanced brand value through connections to leading edge research
- new pathways to markets through the global network of research and industry collaborators
- insights into market priorities and emerging trends and issues
- relationship building opportunities.
We welcome partners
We’re excited by the possibilities Water Sensitive Cities Australia presents, and we welcome partners. If you’re interested in partnering with us, please complete a declaration form.
If you have any questions, talk to our Mainstreaming Leader Jamie Ewert (email@example.com).
Learn more about partnering with us.