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Rethinking infrastructure for more liveable communities

A project in Melbourne’s west is set to transform a modified waterway into green infrastructure, stressing the importance for Australia’s cities to start thinking green when it comes to liveability.

Presenting on the Greening the West Stony Creek project at the upcoming Ozwater’18, Alluvium Project Designer Stuart Cleven and Integrated Water Management Specialist Dan O’Halloran say green infrastructure is all about rethinking infrastructure to create more liveable communities.

“My idea of green infrastructure is moving away from traditional thinking in engineering and design – concrete, hard-edged infrastructure made for efficiency, especially in the water space,” Cleven said.

“It’s about moving towards infrastructure that has a wider multi-use benefit; moving towards whole-of-water-cycle management that looks to protect and restore what would have been a more natural water cycle in the environment.”

The Stony Creek project has been designed to transform 1.2km of concrete-lined creek running through 13ha of open space in Melbourne’s north west into a high-quality green infrastructure asset through integrated stormwater harvesting and tree planting.

The stormwater harvesting will allow for irrigation of the area, the introduction of native flora species will encourage habitat growth and recreational infrastructure will create a green space for the surrounding community to enjoy.

“It is about that connection back to nature; green infrastructure opens up these unused spaces again, through the use of water and vegetation, to enable residents to have better access to high quality open space,” Cleven said.

“The project’s vision was to use water to help create sustainable, liveable communities in the west through waterway restoration and urban greening. There is a lot in that vision, but the main driver for this was to create a healthy and sustainable system linked to the community.

“We wanted to transform a dead space into open space, a place that draws the community and connects them to water.”

O’Halloran said while the project’s aim was to deliver liveability benefits for the surrounding suburbs, it is also about connecting the community by creating a shared, green space.

“The motivation for Greening the West is to improve liveability and amenity in our newer suburbs. The way we have created drainage infrastructure in the past has been about efficient conveyance and that has been realised with concrete assets like trapezoidal channels,” O’Halloran said.

“But by transforming Stony Creek into more of a waterway, it adds to the surrounding community aesthetically, but also provides shade and relief from urban heat and encourages fauna to occupy that habitat.

“For the Stony Creek project in particular, the concrete channel was a division between two sides of a suburb. This project has removed that and introduced a connection within the community as well.”

The Stony Creek project has been planned and work will begin in Q3 2018, with the completion date expected in mid-2019.

O’Halloran also said monitoring the success of certain factors will be key to ensuring the completion of the project, with benefits applicable to similar projects going forward.

“The onus is to measure the success of the project across a range of social and ecological elements. In that sense, it’s going to provide an integrated picture of the project over the long-term, which will be hugely beneficial when we move to implement other projects like this across Melbourne and other cities,” O’Halloran said.

Register for Ozwater’18 to hear more about the Stony Creek project and the process of creating green infrastructure.

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