Stormwater harvesting involves collecting, storing and treating stormwater from urban areas which can be used as recycled water. This recycled stormwater is commonly used to water public parks, gardens, sports fields and golf courses.
Above: Oaklands stormwater harvest and re-use project. Image credit: Water Sensitive SA
What does stormwater harvesting include?
A stormwater harvesting scheme can be a large or small project, but generally consists of:
extraction point where stormwater is captured or diverted from a drain, creek or pond;
a network of pipes to transport stormwater from collection point to the storage site;
a dam or storage tank where the stormwater is temporarily collected for treatment and use;
treatment system that produces recycled water that is suitable and safe for its permitted use;
network of pipes for distributing recycled water, and;
a system to manage by-products produced in the stormwater harvesting facility.
In South Australia, stormwater harvesting projects in local councils include the following key objectives (Local Government Association, 2012):
Environmental: reinstate environmental flows in waterways and manage aquifer recharge and recovery.
Socio-environmental: provide for recreational opportunities in parks; meet community expectations of green suburbs and townships; improve livability of urban areas; drought-proof public and private spaces in urban areas.
Flood mitigation: reduce the risk of flooding to property.
Economic: provide a resource to attract new industry.
Financial: reduce watering costs of parks and recreation facilities by using harvested stormwater; redistribute harvested stormwater to marks to surplus their own needs.
Through the implementation of effective stormwater harvesting scheme, local communities and eco-systems will see the following long- and short-term benefits:
reduces in the demand for drinking water by replacing it with recycled water produced via stormwater;
reduction in stress on urban streams and rivers by capturing and filtering pollutants and nutrients that would otherwise enter the stormwater flow;
enable users to access an alternative source of water for non-drinking use, and;
an increase in the opportunities for sustainable water management.
Stormwater harvesting can be effective in water quality management, protecting ecosystems and liveable and attractive communities. Given the scarcity of water in Australia, by effectively implementing a stormwater harvesting scheme, we are securing our environment and water supply for generations to come.
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