Water Sensitive Urban Design

Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) is about integrating water cycle management into urban planning and design. 

WSUD looks to manage the impacts of stormwater from development with the aim of protecting and improving waterway health by mimicking the natural water cycle as closely as possible.

WSUD examples are popping up all over the region.  If you take a drive along Morton Road in Christie Downs you’ll see lovely new footpaths and trees, but underground there’s more than meets the eye.

Like many suburbs, this area can be a real hotspot in summer with lots of hard surfaces that act like a heat bank at night. This project is improving the appeal of Morton Road by planting trees and other vegetation in a supportive environment that encourages them to thrive - making the area greener and cooler in summer.

Christie Downs has relatively low tree canopy cover at 10.5% while the Adelaide average is 27%. Around 100 native and ornamental trees have now been planted. On the west side of the road, adjacent to Christies Beach High School, the paving might look standard but it is actually porous, allowing the rain to infiltrate, rather than run off into the stormwater drain and out to sea. You’ll also see a series of silver plates in the kerb by the school. These are tree inlets that capture water running down the street into a holding reservoir, where it slowly filters out to irrigate the street trees.

When it rains, a large swale on the eastern side of the road captures stormwater, allowing it to seep back into the soil after it has been filtered by a series of biofiltration beds. This passive irrigation is being supplemented by recycled water until the vegetation establishes. In time, the result will be a street that will be a much more welcoming place to walk, with shade and a reduction in the unfiltered stormwater that is going out to sea.

Water sensitive urban design   Water sensitive urban design 2

Key principles of WSUD

Protect waterways

Protect waterways within urban development’s so that they can remain valuable community assets that enhance livability and support the ecosystems that rely on them.

Manage stormwater in the landscape

Manage stormwater in the landscape rather than drain it all to waterways. This reduces the volume and frequency of stormwater drained and increases the quality before stormwater reaches waterways. 

Add multiple benefits while minimising development costs

Provide for a range of benefits such as alternate supply, improved amenity and safety, and contribute to enhanced liveability by enhancing natural features such as rivers and lakes.  WSUD minimises the drainage infrastructure development costs by reducing pipe sizes and potentially replacing other large scale reticulated water systems with local solutions.

We work closely with developers to ensure WSUD principles are considered in the design of new housing developments, whilst also undertaking projects where there is an identified need.  WSUD works include: grassed and landscaped swales; infiltration trenches and bio-retention systems; gross pollutant traps, wetlands and sediment ponds; rainwater tanks – stormwater harvesting and reuse; grey water harvesting and reuse; rain gardens, porous pavements and aquifer recharge and reuse.