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Ways to save water in urban developments to be subject of conference


23 October 2003
PHOTO CAPTION: Organisers of the water conference get together for a water think tank: (L-R) Damian Grace from the Stormwater Trust, Robyn Fitzroy from Lismore City Council, Dr Leigh Davison from Southern Cross University's Centre for Ecotechnology and Bianca Smith from Geolink.

Water use is now under the spotlight with the recent drought and Rous Water considering permanent water restrictions to conserve water, as well as the ongoing property boom and the NSW far north coast and SE Queensland being the fastest growing area in Australia.

However some inexpensive but effective technologies which saves water and are also much better for the environment in terms of quality of stormwater run-off, are still not being implemented in new developments by many developers or at the behest of councils.

Australia’s two leading experts in the field of what is known as water sensitive urban design, Dr Tony Wong and Dr Peter Coombers, will address the issues involved in a one-day conference at Southern Cross University (SCU) on Thursday, November 20.

The conference, called ‘Integrated Urban Water Management and Water Sensitive Urban Design – the Way Forward’, will be held at Invercauld House.

The topics to be covered include:
* the benefits of integrating stormwater into the urban water cycle;
* an update on tools being developed to assist local government, consultants and developers;
* an update on government policy and direction; and
* local examples of development and council initiatives for the implementation of sustainable water management practices.

The conference is being jointly organised by the Centre for Ecotechnology at SCU; GeoLINK, an environmental management and design company based in Lennox Head; Lismore City Council, and the Stormwater Trust, a NSW Government initiative.

The two keynote speakers are:

Dr Tony Wong, an Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at Monash University, Victoria, and director of consulting company Ecological Engineering. Dr Wong has been undertaking research at Monash University over the past 10 years into urban stormwater quality management, including as head of a large research team through the Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) for Catchment Hydrology, addressing issues of water sensitive urban design. He is looking at both more efficient use of water in an urban environment, such as using greywater for toilet flushing, as well as the quality of the stormwater runoff into the natural environment to ensure it does not pollute waterways. His focus is on sustainable urban water management;

Dr Peter Coombes, an ARC Research Fellow on Optimal Urban Water Cycle Management at Newcastle University, and director of consulting company Urban Water Cycle Solutions. Dr Coombes is very experienced in the design and evaluation of urban water demand management and urban design. He has undertaken extensive research in the area, including on the quality of water in rainwater tanks, and cost savings of water sensitive urban design compared to conventional designs, and the estimated reduced demand on dams. He has provided advice to the NSW and Federal parliaments, Sydney Water and NSW Water authorities, and local governments in NSW, Queensland and NZ. He has written numerous papers on the subject, and has worked on several water sensitive urban developments, the best known being Figtree Place in Newcastle.

The conference will be introduced by Mervyn King, Mayor of Lismore City Council. Other speakers include Mike Sharpin, Manager of the NSW EPA Stormwater Trust; Peter Schneider from the NSW Ministry of Energy; Shane Higgins from Grafton City Council; Phil Warner and John Truman from Ballina Shire Council; Craig Zerk, Director of GeoLINK; Adrian Joseph, developer; and Dr Leigh Davison, Director of the Centre for Ecotechnology at SCU.

Integrated Urban Water Management is a strategic approach to the management of all aspects of the urban water cycle involving water, wastewater and stormwater, that seeks to treat these systems as one whole, interdependent system. Water Sensitive Urban Design is a design approach that focuses on implementing the principles of the above on a site by site basis.

"The adoption of these principles will be critical for the protection of water resources; reducing costs of water, stormwater and waste water infrastructure; and preserving our aquatic ecosystems (rivers, creeks and the ocean),” Dr Davison said.

The cost of attending the one-day conference is being subsidised by the organisers, at $99 or $22 for students. For information about attending, contact conference convenor Bianca Smith at Geolink, Ph: 6687 7666.

NB Media: the conference starts at 9am with a break for morning tea from 10.10am to 10.30am, a discussion panel from 12noon to 12.20pm and lunch from 12.20pm to 1.20pm. There is another discussion panel from 2.40pm to 3pm and the conference ends at 3.10pm, followed by afternoon tea.

Media contact: Sara Crowe or Kath Duncan, SCU Media Liaison, Ph: 6620 3144, M: 0439 858 057.