Water Sensitive Urban Design

Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) is a way of planning our cities to minimise water runoff and ensure any runoff causes the least amount of damage. It is also about wise use of that water to improve our urban environment.

The key principles of WSUD are:

  • to reduce the demand for potable (fit for drinking) water by using alternative sources of water such as rainwater and treated wastewater and encouraging water efficient appliances
  • to minimise the generation of wastewater and to treat wastewater to a suitable standard for re-use and/or release to receiving waters
  • to treat urban stormwater to a quality where it can be reused and/or discharged to surface waters
  • to use stormwater in the urban landscape to improve the visual and recreational amenity of developments.

In 2009 the ACT Government introduced the Water Sensitive Urban Design General Code under the Territory Plan. The General Code is designed to encourage reduced use of mains water, to improve water quality and to manage stormwater flows in urban areas.

A review of WSUD, released in August 2014, recommends significantly expanding the current WSUD measures. The review reiterates the importance of WSUD in our environment to manage our urban water cycle, encourages discussion and refined whole-of-government coordination to achieve better outcomes and reduced costs, and to address implementation of report recommendations.

The following documents informed the final review report:

Sullivans Creek and Inner North Reticulation Network

The Inner-North Reticulation Network is a prime example of water sensitive urban design. The network was officially launched in April 2015.

The network will provide up to 500 megalitres of storm water each year for irrigation of many of the large green open spaces in the inner north, replacing the high-quality drinking water previously used.

It will also improve water quality in Lake Burley Griffin, help the city adapt to climate change, and provide recreational facilities in the form of wetlands and green ovals.

Read more about the Sullivans Creek and Inner North Reticulation Network