Hydropolis 2020

Stormwater WA‘s annual showpiece, the Hydropolis conference (10-11 November 2020), was finally held (in person!) after a number of COVID and other-related delays.

The conference’s theme ‘Water Sensitive Stormwater is Business As Usual
– what is next for Perth?’ was reflected by a diverse range of presentations, speakers, projects, and research.

The conference was appropriately opened during NAIDOC week with a Welcome to Country by Ballardong & Wadjuk Noongar Barry McGuire, who spoke of the importance of water in songlines and its integral connection to everything we do.

DWER Director General Mike Rowe & Stormwater WA Chair Bill Till

Some of the key presentations seen over the two day conference included:

  • WA Waterwise Perth Action PlanDWER Director General Mike Rowe acknowledged our changing climate, noting that our water challenges also provide an opportunity for innovation, as part of the progress made to deliver the Waterwise Perth Action Plan;
  • Wharf Street Basin: A Next Generation Smart Park – City of Canning Senior Project Leader Gary McCullough shared what a local government can do to plan for strategic revitalisation, noting that water supports amenity, with the Wharf St project in the Canning City Centre demonstrating how we can open up drainage spaces for public benefit;
  • Improved prediction and management of urban shallow groundwater is a win-win-win for developers, homeowners and the environment – UWA Associate Professor Sally Thompson showed us why building on large volumes of fill doesn’t necessarily support good development in shallow groundwater areas and the difficulties of working as a local government engineer in this space;
  • What does ARR19 mean for Perth? – JDA Principal Engineering Hydrologist Alex Rogers demonstrated the need to consider ensembles and Monte Carlo scenarios in stormwater modelling, noting a move away from the rational method, and the need to read ARR Book 9;
  • Wungong flood modelling – implications for district level planning – DWER Manager-Urban Water Tim Sparks noted that design must respond to the local context in planning, and the difficulties of engineering a solution with a lack of floodplain storage such as in Wungong;
  • Waterwise METRONET – Public Transport Authority METRONET Lead-Sustainability Caroline Minton & DWER/METRONET Senior Engineer Agni Bhandari showed us the planning and latest progress incorporating waterwise design in Perth’s Metronet project;
  • Quantifying export rates of sediments for a range of construction activities at Heron Park, Harrisdale, Western Australia – UWA Professor Carolyn Oldham presented her latest research on the topic showing that late season baseflow sediment discharge is the highest (Aug-Oct) and that there is a lack of financial incentives for management of sediment by developers to address the issue;
  • The CGL, harvesting and sustainable urban development – RPS Principal Hydrogeology Carl Davies’ research shows the benefits of very good data to help predict future outcomes & inform the discussion of the costs & benefits of where the Controlled Groundwater Level (CGL) is set; and
  • Urban drainage design – then and now – Urbaqua Director Helen Brookes took the audience through a journey of WSUD in Perth, demonstrating just how far we have come as an industry.

In addition to a number of industry workshops, conference MC Shelley Shepherd also undertook some live polling of Day 1 attendees with questions industry around what we do best in WSUD with some perhaps surprising (and not so surprising results):

  • participants ranked our ability to plan & design WSUD systems highest, while construction, operation & maintenance of WSUD infrastructure received very low ratings;
  • use of multi-use parks, soakwells, swales/living streams & raingardens were also ranked highest as what we do well in Perth, while water efficiency reuse scored very low;
  • drainage in high groundwater areas was ranked most highly as the issue we need to manage better;
  • demonstration projects & case studies were identified as being the best method of helping the industry to progress.

The conference also included the 2020 Stormwater WA Awards for Excellence night & AGM, with winners including:

  1. Excellence in Strategic or Master PlanningBelle View Estate entered by Coterra Environment & Collaborators – Michael Hodgson, Strategic Planning Institute P/L, Urbanise, Hortplan
  2. Excellence in InfrastructureVictoria Park Drive Road Upgrade entered by ARUP & Collaborators – Main Roads WA, Perth Transport Authority
  3. Excellence in Research and InnovationTunnelwell Arch System – entered by Tunnelwell
  4. Excellence in Policy or EducationCity of Gosnells Stormwater Management Policy AP2.4.24 entered by City of Gosnells
  5. Excellence in Integrated Stormwater DesignPeters Place Micro Wetland entered by City of Bayswater and Water Corporation

For those who missed the conference or wanted to go over some of the conference findings, a number of the presentations are available on the Stormwater WA website:


Sincere thanks to the sponsors and supporters of Hydropolis 2020, who made the conference possible:
Gold Sponsor – Department of Water and Environmental Regulation | Silver Sponsor – Water Corporation | Bronze Sponsors – ARUP & JDA Consultant Hydrologists | Supporters – Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions & Tunnelwell

And given today is World Toilet Day (19 November), here is a series of loo haikus to finish off this week’s blog:

When you have to go
It’s quite important to know
You won’t be in woe

1 in 3 people
Do not have a place to pee
Let’s make a big stink!

Long stay in the loo
Younger brother reads comics
Dad uses his smart phone

I was rescued although
the toilet had no intention
of saving me

Oh crap butt’s hurting
I guess I should watch my hands
Damn you e.coli

If you want to help others get access to good sanitation and hygiene facilities feel free to donate to WaterAid Australia or pick up a bundle of high quality loo paper from Who Gives a Crap – donating 50% of profits to providing toilets to those in need!

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