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What do you get for $15 million of water assets - and can you maintain it?

Water sensitive urban design, or smarter use of stormwater in cities, has been around for 20 years or so.  It creates greenery in the urban landscape, and cleans the water before going to rivers and bays. It's a good thing - but hasn't been adopted as a mainstream design opportunity in any city in Australia. 

And one of the reasons why is maintenance.  Prof Tim Fletcher says he thinks maintenance is the largest impediment to adopting WSUD right now.

Stormwater Victoria ran a seminar on WSUD Maintenance.  Fair to say lots of people are aware of the problem, but we are a fair way off fixing it.  We know more about what good maintenance looks like, and why assets have failed in the past.  

Melbourne Water have spent $15 million on grants with local council over the past 10 years helping them co-fund WSUD assets. So they were very keen to know which assets are still working and why or why not.  Short answer - not as many as you'd hope.

Get the design right, spend more time on hold points in construction, and then put WSUD into a mainstream asset management database and system so that it can be maintained.  

I think the key is simpler designs, and more proactive maintenance, and all couched (as Dale from E2D said), in the language of financial liabilities and community benefits.  We hope to be part of the next wave of WSUD and new maintenance models.