Rainwater Harvesting and 21st Century Business

development illustration

Aerial illustration of Aura development

The largest master planned community housing project in Australia is starting to roll out in South East Queensland and every building has rainwater harvesting. The sell out crowd hung onto every word as Mark Stephens from the Stockland Aura development talked about the Stockland philosophy and the key role of integrated water management in this sensitive landscape.

screenshot-9

Aura will have 50% roof area rainwater harvesting on residential buildings with 5KL tanks on detached houses and 100% roof area rainwater harvesting on commercial buildings. Aura includes rainwater harvesting, raingardens, bioretention systems, wetlands, stormwater capture, sewage security, sediment management and controlled streamflows.

Water schematic at Currumbin

Water schematic at Currumbin

Ben O’Callaghan from Ecomplish gave the simplest and most effective case study on integrated water management at Currumbin. This privately developed community Eco Village drinks nothing but rainwater and manages and recycles all its sewage into reusable water. They don’t even have a mains water connection. The stormwater management is integrated into the land use planning pattern, transport paths and community farming. While the rest of the country is spending billions to try and manage these issues, the locals think their self-sufficient water cycle is no big deal; it has been working well for 10 years and is cost effective. We talk about affordable housing but we also need to talk about affordable living, the costs of running a household including water and energy go on for decades and should be a key criteria for house design and housing decisions.

Household Scale Rainwater Harvesting Benefits

Image from Brisbane City Council’s Norman Creek 2026 Vision and Concept Plan

Sally Boer from E2Designlab showed the quite lively crowd a series of evaluations of integrated water cycle management applied to different scales of development – precinct, neighbourhood and household, including a positive assessment of rainwater harvesting options. Sally emphasised the important liveability benefits of well irrigated landscapes, local wetlands and waterways in cities of the future.

 

I made a short presentation on some of the recurrent points of clarification for the Association about rainwater harvesting. How much rainwater Australians use, it does rain during droughts, 20 years of research that rainwater is safe to drink, rainwater does have a positive cost benefit analysis and others which I have put into a related blog called Rainwater Harvesting Myths.

Copies of the presentations will be available shortly on the Rainwater Harvesting website. On behalf of the Association, thanks to all speakers and attendees for an enjoyable morning.