We worked to better understand stormwater harvesting to improve water security for South-East Queensland and reduce impacts of stormwater on ecosystems.

The challenge

Improving water security in cities

Stormwater is potentially a valuable water source in a diversified urban water landscape. In addition, harvesting stormwater could help control the ecologically damaging flows and water quality issues which occur from increased urbanisation.

However, the science linking urbanisation to hydrological and creek ecosystem response is poorly understood for the sub-tropical climate of South-East Queensland (SEQ).

Our response

Understanding stormwater management

Led by CSIRO’s Land and Water Flagship (formerly the Water for a Healthy Country Flagship), the Urban Water Security Research Alliance (UWSRA) undertook research aiming to improve the way stormwater is managed in SEQ.

The project used the best available science to develop, calibrate and validate state-of-the-art catchment stormwater models.

Through this Alliance CSIRO engaged with the International Water Centre, Queensland Government, University of Queensland and Griffith University. 

The Alliance ran from 2007 to 2012 and addressed SEQ’s emerging urban water issues through targeted, multidisciplinary research into water security and recycling. It was the largest, regionally focused urban water research program, contributing to a national effort to provide science based water solutions for Australia.

The results

A new way forward for Queensland

This research has provided unparalleled detail of how urbanisation changes urban stream hydrology, water quality and ecology and the extent to which urban stormwater runoff is responsible for creek ecosystem degradation in SEQ. 

The data and models from this project are directly informing policy, planning and development in SEQ. They will also be used nationally and internationally in developing ways to harvest or manage stormwater while protecting ecosystem health of urban waterways.

As a consequence of the project, SEQ has access to high quality hydrological, urban area imperviousness and water quality data for urban catchments; a unique resource for further research and policy assessment. The data is publicly available and has already been distributed to local government and industry stakeholders. The models developed using the data are also available as tools for exploring the impacts of urbanisation – spatially, across intensities and timings.

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