Designs for the Future
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As residents of the Hunter Region we are very fortunate
to live near one of Australia’s largest and most
beautiful lakes, Lake Macquarie. However, with this
privilege comes responsibility.
The cumulative impact of Lake Macquarie’s catchment
population, approximately 190,000 residents, is potentially
disastrous to the Lake’s health. It has been estimated
that 57,000 tonnes of sediment, 360 tonnes of nitrogen
and 23 tonnes of phosphorous enter the Lake each year
Conventional concrete drains, including kerb and guttering,
together with hard sealed surfaces such as roofs and
driveways, deliver storm water directly to the Lake
every time it rains. This intense flush is very harmful
to the health of the creeks and Lake, not only bringing
a cocktail of pollutants but also causing disturbance
to plants and animals.
Over the past decade a new understanding has developed
of natural systems and the role they play in a sustainable
and healthy environment. We have seen a shift away from
the hard engineering or concrete solutions of the past,
toward new strategies that preserve or reinstate natural
processes within the environment.
As a result of this, a new approach called Water Sensitive
Urban Design has been developed as a way of dealing
with water cycle management for both private and public
property. This approach will also change dramatically
the way that new subdivisions are designed.
It offers an alternative to the traditional approach
to stormwater management treating stormwater as a resource
and asset rather than a nuisance. This ensures that
run-off and its contaminants, are retained in the catchment,
rather than enter our waterways. It mimics natural landscapes,
where water is held in the ground and fed into the waterways
over a period of time.
One of the biggest benefits is improved water quality
as natural systems (such as wetlands and vegetated swales)
work as filters, removing pollutants before they enter
There are a number of ways that individuals can use
Water Sensitive Urban Design principles in their own
home, not only helping to reduce sediments entering
the Lake but also saving money.
The installation of a rainwater tank not only helps
to save one of our most precious resources, but also
helps to control the harmful impact that storm water
can have on our waterways. It can be used for a variety
of purposes including washing water, watering gardens
and flushing toilets.
Reducing the amount of hard concrete surfaces such
as driveways, roads and car parks on your property will
also help reduce the amount of sediments entering the
Lake. These surfaces accumulate oils, grease and fine
sediments which after rainfall, are washed into our
The Project Management Committee has funded a number
of projects that use Water Sensitive Urban Design concepts
throughout Lake Macquarie and its catchment. These include
the construction of wetlands and vegetated drainage
swales, some of these works have also involved the removal
of old concrete drains. These natural processes significantly
reduce the effects of urbanisation by filtering pollutants
from stormwater before they enter the Lake.
Although we are starting to see early signs of improvement
in the Lake’s health, this is an ongoing process
and we still have a long way to go. Lake Macquarie is
a dynamic environmental treasure that can be enjoyed
by current and future generations if we work together
to protect it.