Our local parks and sports fields
Is council effectively reducing its dependency on mains water by selecting appropriate alternative supplies and increasing efficient application of water?
What can I do?
How are councils responding?
Councils are moving away from full dependence on mains water and continue to install alternative supplies that help to capture rain water and reuse storm water to irrigate active open space reserves.
Councils are also investing in a wide range of water efficiency actions across Victoria.
Stormwater Capture and Reuse at Fitzroy Gardens
In response to the Millennium Drought, a stormwater harvesting system was installed at Fitzroy Gardens in December 2013. The system provides 30 million litres of water every year, and helps us keep the heritage garden healthy in a changing climate, in which prolonged droughts and more frequent heatwaves are expected.
Warm season grasses for sports
Hobsons Bay City Council, Maribyrnong City Council, Wyndham City Council, Brimbank City Council, Melton City Council and Glen Eira City Council reported programs to upgrade their active sports fields to warm season grasses which will be better suited to a warmer climate and require reduced watering.
Hobsons Bay Stormwater Harvesting Project
Keeping the grounds green and game ready. The Hobsons Bay Stormwater Harvesting Project provides longterm water solutions for three much-loved and well-used sports grounds – Paisley Park, Altona North; Cyril Curtain Reserve Williamstown, and Laverton Park Reserve, Altona Meadows.
Hobsons Bay City Council partnered with the Australian Government and City West Water, to showcase three stormwater harvesting projects that will summer-proof the much loved sporting facilities while saving precious water that can now be put to another use.
Reduced rainfall presents plenty of challenges and these challenges require smart solutions. The stormwater is collected from drainage systems, filtered through a wetland or biofilter, collected in a pond or underground tanks, and then pumped to local sports grounds to keep them green and game ready.
The completed projects enable more than 184 million litres or almost 74 Olympic-sized swimming pools of stormwater to be harvested and treated to irrigate playing surfaces.
New interpretive signage has been installed at Laverton Stormwater Harvesting. The treated stormwater at this site is used to irrigate the reserve in Altona Meadows and recent water quality testing has found the water quality to be good with low salinity levels.
- Water catchment and treatment
- Encourages active lifestyle
- Enhances habitat
Reducing Our Dependency on Mains Water
Wyndham City is reducing its dependency on mains water by supplementing with recycled water where possible.
Over the past 5 years recycled water use has accounted for between 22% and 38% of Wyndham City’s total water use. New Council buildings are being designed to ensure maximum water use efficiency.
Moonee Valley City Council
Moonee Valley City Council has invested in a number of stormwater re-use initiatives to support irrigation of parks and sports fields. One example is Napier Park revitalisation where Council recreated the original watercourse to more closely resemble natural watering of the park by retaining water in the landscape, increasing soil moisture. This re-used stormwater led to increased health of the River Red Gums, reduced volume of runoff to reduce flood risk and improved water quality. Apart from the other benefits mentioned, this project allows Council to passively and sustainably water the park with stormwater rather than needing to truck water in.
What is the impact of climate change and extreme weather events
on operational expenditure budgets?
What can I do?
Climate change projections indicate an increase in high winds associated with storms, torrential downpours and prolonged periods of wet and dry. These can weaken the structure of some buildings, particularly homes that were not designed to take the load of heavy rain or hail, or the force of high winds.
The SES guidance for Reducing Vulnerability of Buildings to Flood Damage (pdf 5.9 Mb) has valuable information about both structural and non-structural design issues in buildings.
Make sure you are covered with adequate home insurance that protects you in the event of extreme weather.
How are councils responding?
As climate change progresses, we expect it to put extra pressure on operational expenditure budgets where increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events could impact on council recovery and repair costs and increase maintenance requirements for open space.
In 2017, council operational budgets were not adversely impacted by extreme weather events. However recent years have shown that there have been benefits to having a budget that can accommodate buffers for seasonal variations in maintenance according to climatic conditions.
Climate change will also have an impact on water supply costs, which will in turn affect operational budgets within open space and parks management.
As water availability decreases overtime in the face of a hotter and drier climate, we may expect the unit cost of water to go up as alternatives such as desalination or recycled water become needed, and as demand increases with population growth.
Some examples of how extremes in climate can impact council operations include:
- Low rainfall during spring meant staff did not have to spend overtime budget for growth season mowing.
- In previous years, a dry winter and spring demonstrated that additional watering for sports fields and open space reserves was necessary to keep grounds in usable condition.
- No insurance claims were reported for extreme weather damage to council facilities.
- Councils can expect to incur more clean-up costs to clear fallen branches in parks, public spaces and sports fields if there are more frequent storm events.
Are open space capital expenditure budgets focusing on
reducing the impacts of climate change?
What can I do?
It’s important that councils invest in projects that protect the community against climate change and there’s plenty that people in our region are doing to strengthen these efforts.
If you’d like to prepare your home and garden for climate change, there are some great programs you can get involved in such as My Smart Garden.
How are councils responding?
Victorian councils are beginning to integrate climate change response in the decision making processes for major projects.
Future Urban Forest
As part of its Urban Forest Strategy, the City of Melbourne is working to increase canopy cover to 40% by 2030. In order to prepare for the impacts of climate change, the City of Melbourne undertook research to predict which tree species will be best adapted to Melbourne’s future climate. Research commissioned by the City of Melbourne found that of these 375 species, 19% are currently temperature vulnerable. It found in a moderate climate scenario, 35% of trees would be vulnerable and in an extreme scenario 62% would be vulnerable. Positive outcomes from the study include a review of 1729 potential new tree species from Australia and cities elsewhere around the world. Of the species assessed, a total of 674 tree species are likely to be suitable for planting in a moderate scenario and 389 species in an extreme scenario. The City of Melbourne is actively using this research to guide selection and trialling of new tree species.
Climate proofing our sports fields
Kingston City Council has growing demand for its sports facilities but recognises the increasingly dryer conditions and extended periods of hot weather negatively impact it’s playing fields. It undertook a suite of interconnected measures to ensure better quality playing surfaces, while reducing use of potable water and improving stormwater flows.
1. Capturing stormwater to water playing fields: The Edithvale Recreation Reserve stormwater treatment and reuse system was completed in January 2018. It includes a bio-retention system, and 5 tanks which can store up to 1.8m litres. The fields at Edithvale Reserve were poor quality and required excessive irrigation to stay alive through summer. This project will save ratepayers $25k annually, will pay for itself in under 3 years, and the playing surface will be improved! The system is currently being expanded to irrigate the Edithvale Common. The captured stormwater is also used for street tree watering and flushing the toilets at the Edithvale Family and Children’s Centre. Smaller scale stormwater treatment systems are irrigating sports grounds across the municipality.
2. Implementing a central control irrigation system: To ensure efficient and effective use of water, Council installed a central control irrigation system. This ensures the correct volume of water is applied when its needed. The system includes flow monitoring capability so that leaks can be quickly detected. Weekly inspections from grounds crew determine watering requirements.
3. Upgrading to more drought tolerant turf: By the end of 2019, all sports fields will be converted to warm season turf.
Preparing our trees for drought!
Moonee Valley City Council: Our tree crew, infrastructure maintenance and environment team recently commenced a trial to support the irrigation of our street trees.
The project involves cutting out a section of the nature strip to install soak wells below the surface which retain stormwater from the road and slowly release it into the surrounding soil.
8 soak wells have been installed in Upland Rd, Strathmore in April 2019.
This trial will hopefully result in improved tree growth and soil moisture all contributing to Council’s 30% tree canopy target.
Thanks to everyone involved. Stay tuned for the results!