WSUD: The rise of Urban Wetlands and Waterways.

What is Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD), and why is it a factor in the emergence of so many fantastic Urban Waterways and recreational green-spaces.



If you've been following the Habitat Creations' story over recent years, you may have noticed that our Nursery and Landscaping Teams complete a lot of Urban Wetland projects.


We like to say, if you've visited an Urban Wetland or Waterway in recent years, chances are it has some Habitat Creations DNA. It's either a project our teams have planted, supplied the plants, or delivered in its entirety after civil construction is complete.


There are several reasons for this, including our unique ability to grow and supply native aquatic and terrestrial plants at volume, and the expertise our Landscaping teams have in working in often challenging aquatic environments.

"Did you know, Habitat Creations' has a dedicated Wholesale Nursery site for indigenous aquatic plants?


The other factors? Most Urban Wetland projects are delivered for property developers and councils, who are seeing increased demand from Australian families that have local green space and reserves at or near the top of their wishlist, meaning a well-designed urban wetland or waterway can increase the desirability of the development, and provide a valuable point-of-difference.


Property developers are also facing an increasing range of Federal, State, regional and local legislative and policy requirements that apply to sustainable water management, referred to as Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD).


Broadly speaking, WSUD law embraces a range of measures that are designed to avoid, or at least minimise, the environmental impacts of urbanisation in terms of the demand for water and the potential pollution threat to natural waterways.



There is a range of policy drivers relevant to the adoption of WSUD policies and practices, but broadly speaking they may be categorised as:


environmental;

economic;

social;

and legal.


Let's take a brief look at each one.


Environmental

Urban Wetlands and Waterways are designed to simulate the important characteristics of a natural wetland system, which is to slow the flow of stormwater, hold floodwater, remove sediment and pollutants, increase biodiversity, and provide habitat for wildlife.


In Gippsland and Melbourne's South East, they help ensure that clean water enters the natural environment before eventually flowing into the Gippsland Lakes and Westernport.


Economic

The economic drivers for WSUD include increased land values associated with proximity to water features, wetlands, and waterways, however, many councils also acknowledge the long-term economic value of implementing WSUD as a means of mitigating flash flooding and the projected rise in sea level due to climate change and extreme weather events.


Long-term water efficiency for occupiers of buildings is also a factor, as well as the cost of distributing water from the point of treatment to the end-user; the cost of alternative water augmentation for irrigating open space, or for domestic supply; and freeing up developable land, by directing WSUD assets to encumbered undevelopable land or public land (flood-prone land, drainage easements, passive open space, and riparian corridors).


Social

The value of sustainability as a marketing feature of urban development is now well appreciated. Focus group research conducted by Resolution Research, found that 88.6% of participants would be willing to pay $10,000–$15,000 more to buy into an EnviroDevelopment (a UDIA green-credentialed urban development).


The reason for this is clear, there are clear health and social benefits linked to time spent outdoors, in a natural environment, and with subsequently increased physical exercise. People like to live in close proximity to well-designed green recreational spaces, especially those with water features.


Legal

As mentioned, it is the law to integrate WSUD into urban planning and design. These legal requirements cover flood risk, hydrology, water quality protection and biodiversity to provide a price signal that encourages property developers to think about different ways of mitigating their legal risk.


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As you can see, there are a number of reasons why you're now seeing so many well-designed and executed Urban Wetlands and Waterways across Gippsland, Melbourne's South East and West, and right throughout Victoria. Our Wholesale Nursery and Landscaping teams are always very proud of the environmental and social outcomes they provide for local communities.

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