This week I had the opportunity to see a site for sustainable water management and speak to a researcher at the University of Queensland working on water quality for the Great Barrier Reef.
I met with the Water Services Supervisor with the City of Brisbane and South Bank Corporation. He showed me an innovative stormwater harvesting, treatment and reuse project, Rain Bank, which was completed in 2011. It uses underground reservoirs to store, harvest and treat stormwater and can recycle up to 77 megalitres (the equivalent of 30 Olympic-sized swimming pools) each year. This is enough to provide 85% of Parkland’s irrigation and non-potable water requirements. Parkland is an urban area in South Bank, near Brisbane City and the Brisbane River. Many residents and visitors use South Bank for picnicking, biking, running, shopping, and eating at a variety of restaurants.
Parkland in South Bank near the Brisbane River
Local governments and private organizations put funding for this project in place when the Brisbane area was going through extreme droughts from 2002-2007. To find space to store rainwater in an urban setting is rare and this project will ensure water resources will be available during periods of long-term drought. The project has won several awards including the Stormwater Industry Association of Queensland’s Excellence in Infrastructure Award and the Healthy Waterway’s Water Sensitive Urban Design Award.
South Bank also has a dedicated Water Efficiency Management Plan which includes installing dual flush toilets, waterless urinals and three second push-style taps in all public toilets at South Bank; installing water tanks in the Parklands and applying wetting agents to turf and gardens in the Parklands to reduce the need for watering. Since introducing these measures, water consumption in the Parklands has reduced by 65%. Other sustainability measures that South Bank have implemented include: waste reduction and recycling, using bio-friendly cleaning products, energy use reduction, using locally sourced materials, utilizing native plants that are drought resistant, green building, CityCycle, and sustainability education for the community.
My next meeting was with a researcher at the University of Queensland (Marine Spatial Ecology Lab) who gave me some good information about work they are doing to track water quality and ecosystem services for the Great Barrier Reef. He also directed me to reports and research done by other researchers and organizations that will help with my paper.
Over the weekend I visited D’Aguilar National Park and Mount Glorious. It was a beautiful hike with striking mountaintop views through eucalypt woodlands and a subtropical rainforest. Throughout the hike, I thought I heard a baby or a cat crying. Turns out, it was a catbird! There are some strange birds in Australia and I could do an entire blog on that. Most likely it was a Green Catbird which are found in rainforests in Southeast Queensland.
I also visited the City Botanic Gardens and explored mangrove forests along the riverfront. Australia has 41 different species of mangroves and you can find most of them in the state of Queensland.
Another highlight was meeting with a fellow Patel School of Global Sustainability student! It’s nice that Xiaomin Liu is also in Brisbane for her project.
Next week I meet with staff from Healthy Waterways and the International Water Centre.