Do we have a water sensitive vision for Perth?

City of Perth

With an impending cyclone threatening our stormwater systems in Perth (won’t it be amazing if we actually get 50mm of rainfall?!) it seems like a good time to think about our water sensitive vision for Perth. Some recent articles have explored our level of water resilience, noting that we have had a long history of providing engineering solutions for our lack of water. But is this enough? Should we, as a community, really start to think about the way we use water and act to demonstrate its value to us (well we couldn’t actually exist without it!) and work together to make Perth a truly water sensitive city? We think the answer is yes – and right now!

But what is our water sensitive vision for Perth? Is my vision the same as yours? What are some of the key barriers to improving the way we use and manage our water resources? How can we move forwards?

Essential Environmental partners Shelley Shepherd and Helen Brookes are making a bit of noise at the moment. Last week they were presenting at the UDIA Hot Topics breakfast to over 200 of our key players in the development industry. It was hoped that everyone, whilst enjoying a yummy breakfast, came away with a belief that water should be an integral consideration for new development, given the unbreakable linkage between water, landscape and liveability.

Hot Topics Breakfast – UDIA

This week, Helen presented a number of papers at the IPWEA State conference in Fremantle (oh and by the way we are also up for an IPWEA Engineering excellence award!). Helen showed how improved drainage planning could be used to optimise the provision and use of essential infrastructure and deliver better water resource management outcomes. She also presented on coastal risk but that is a whole different ball game!

State Conference: Solutions Beyond Boundaries – IPWEA

IPWEA 2015 confrence

Shelley is always aiming to get new and interesting information about Water Sensitive Urban Design out into the industry, through her role as Program Manager for New WAter Ways. Although it is recognised that capacity building is an unending vocation,  it was demoralising when at our last training session, a young engineer asked why they should give up developable land to deliver improved liveability!! Surely we as a community have a responsibility for ensuring that the communities of our futre generations are liveable, resilient and sustainable?

Or do we? Is this just our vision or is it actually shared?

Water seems topical across the development industry at the moment. There are many difficulties associated with delivering development in areas of high groundwater in our southern corridor. Correspondingly, the northern corridor is plagued by a lack of water for irrigation for our public open spaces.  What alternatives do we have to maintain the level of amenity that the community expects? And talking about community expectations, where is the space to deliver greenery to reduce the urban heat island effect (which really is about putting water in the landscape!) on ever decreasing lots with the house size that we are offered?

These issues are real and in discussing them, we may be able to address some of the implementation barriers and really work towards a more water sensitive city. But back to the vision….

In order to progress the identification and adoption of a shared vision, Stormwater WA (through its Chair, Helen Brookes) would love you to come and join the conversation at its next conference, Hydropolis 2015.


This Conference, at the City of Canning on 21 and 22 April 2015, will bring together guest speakers and delegates from some of the leading management, planning and infrastructure organisations to exchange ideas and information about meeting the challenges facing Perth as its population grows towards 3.5 million.

Day 1 is about defining the vision, while day 2 provides discussion of some of the technical solutions. Click here for more info about the conference and Buy Tickets Online

So come and join in the conversation!