A New WAter Ways training sessions on Better Urban Water Management (WAPC, 2008) was run by co-author and expert, Shelley Shepherd, on 11th September 2012 for an audience of 23, including representatives of local and state government officers and consultants. The event was held at The Atrium, 168 St Geoge’s Tce, Perth.
Better Urban Water Management (WAPC, 2008) was released by the Western Australian Planning Commission to provide a framework for the integration of water into the land use planning system.
This session explained the intent behind the BUWM framework and provided solutions and tools to assist in its implementation at the various stages of the planning approvals process. Feedback from the training session indicated that attendees felt a number of significant issues associated with implementation of BUWM existed, including:
- Financial/economic commitments of BUWM are not well defined, particularly with respect to monitoring commitments, which can be complex;
- Insufficient information is provided upfront on the impacts of BUWM on Public Open Space, in favour of engineering details. Urban landscape issues are often deferred and landscape architects are not involved early enough in the process;
- Developers lack understanding in the importance of Water Sensitive Urban Development and attempt to shortcut BUWM processes due to the prioritisation of profit;
- Developers complain about Development Conditions and local government often does not have sufficient regulatory controls;
- Home owners do not have an appreciation of ‘rain gardens’ on their verges and some even want them filled in!;
- Lack of understanding of off-site legacy impacts on water levels;
- Retrofit implementation of BUWM structures is not always possible. E.g. areas/roadways with limited verge space;
- Policies and plans are implemented, however, not enforced – the BUWM process is seen as a toothless tiger;
- More and better interaction between stakeholders is needed, particularly with respect to sharing and providing funding. To what extent will the Department of Water assist in this process?;
- Championship/high level leadership to support change within organisations to move towards water sensitive cities.
What do readers think about these issues? Are the concerns valid? Are there any other significant issues associated with the implementation of Better Urban Water Management that need to be addressed?