By Darren Atkinson | 12 Jan 2018

At the end of 2017 ‘Blue meets Green’ brought together engineers and landscape architects to understand how, together, we can better manage water and land to enhance the liveability of our urban centres and capitalise on the identity of our cities.

We considered how, by being smart and future-focused, we can meet the challenges of a growing population and changing climate.

The five ideas outlined here provide the foundation to enact change for collaborative integrated water management. I believe they can help us create more liveable and resilient communities as intended by the Integrated Water Management Framework for Victoria (September 2017), by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

1. Connect with all specialists

Wide-ranging benefits extend beyond the technical engineer. Instead of achieving water quality and flood mitigation objectives, the aim is for connectivity of green spaces, provision of urban cooling effects and creation of social connections. All city shaping disciplines, whether planners, urban designers, landscape architects, ecologists or economists, have a role to drive this holistic vision.  

Let’s invite more specialists to the project table.

2. Generate a conversation

To identify water management options, we need to work together to identify and explore options to achieve agreed outcomes. How do we do this? We connect. Whether it is to arrange and attend more multi-disciplinary events or challenge our clients’ briefs together to include water-focused outcomes.

Let’s talk.

All city shaping disciplines, whether planners, urban designers, landscape architects, ecologists or economists, have a role to drive this holistic vision.

3. Community expectations count

Community values are becoming more ardent. Community expectations are high. Increasingly, the project narrative is centred around the human end use. To reflect this, we need to listen to the community.

Let’s engage.

4. Education, education, education

Understanding sustainable water management design at all phases of the project cycle is vital to an asset’s overall success. Education is the key catalyst for high quality outcomes.

It is critical that:

  • designers are consistently providing high quality plans
  • construction by civil contractors that understand integrated water management (IWM) assets
  • asset construction review and handover process are tailored for IWM assets
  • there is ‘in-house’ expertise and experience in managing IWM assets from a maintenance perspective.

Let’s invest in IWM education.

5. Accept maintenance

Information on maintaining sustainable water assets is limited. Due to multiple variables such as limited budgets, lack of ‘in-house’ expertise and variable design and construct quality, asset owners are reluctant to consider or incorporate sustainable water management and water sensitive urban design into landscapes.

It is crucial that:

  • maintenance is involved at all phases of the project cycle
  • appropriate budgets are provided to maintain the diverse and growing assets
  • there is an adequate transfer of maintenance documentation to the asset owner
  • adequate investment into detailed inspections and conditions to understand what assets are working, the quality of the asset, and any issues and how to fix them
  • transfer of knowledge to ensure assets are designed and maintained to a high level of quality.

Let’s better manage IWM assets.

United we can germinate culture and creativity. Through new policy and professional commitment, we can generate integrated water solutions that will shape Victoria for the better.

Let’s be integrated water management champions together.

Darren Atkinson View Profile