Rainwater harvesting involves collecting rainwater from various hard surfaces such as roof tops, storing the rainwater in tanks, and using it for landscape irrigation, toilet flushing and other uses.
Collecting and utilising rain water helps Council reduce its reliance on clean drinking water for irrigation and flushing toilets, and also helps reduce the impact of stormwater runoff on roads, parks and drainage infrastructure.
Tanks Across the Municipality
Woollahra Council has rainwater tanks installed at 20 Council-owned sites with total rainwater capture and reuse capability at over 260,000L.
Rainwater tanks reduce water costs and stormwater runoff, and help improve the water quality of our local creeks and harbour.
Holdsworth Community Centre Case Study
In 2010, Council received over $79,000 from the NSW Government's Climate Change Fund - Public Facilities Program to install rainwater tanks and other water saving technologies at the Holdsworth Community Centre, saving 700,000 litres of water annually.
The project included the installation of rainwater tanks, waterless urinals and a water wise, organic rain garden, the Holdsworth Communal Garden.
Stormwater harvesting and reuse is the collection, treatment, storage and use of stormwater run-off from urban areas. It differs from rainwater harvesting as the run-off is collected from drains or creeks, rather than roofs.
Council has undertaken significant stormwater harvesting projects in a range of locations to reduce our use of potable (drinking) water by using the recycled water produced from stormwater harvesting to water public parks, gardens, and sports fields.
Stormwater harvesting also reduces stress on our local streams and creeks by capturing some of the pollutants and nutrients that would otherwise enter waterways from stormwater flows.
Parsley Bay Stormwater Harvesting Project
The Parsley Bay Stormwater Harvesting Project was designed and constructed in 2014 to harvest and reuse stormwater from Parsley Bay Creek for irrigation of the grass at Parsley Bay.
Parsley Bay Creek receives water from the surrounding catchment area via council’s stormwater network. The creek flows into a Sydney Water culvert before being discharged into Sydney Harbour.
The Parsley Bay Stormwater Harvesting Project allows council to capture the stormwater before it enters the harbour and reuse approximately 1,200,000 litres of creek water per year to help irrigate the popular grass area at Parsley Bay.
Water is harvested from the creek and diverted into a well where it is screen for rubbish then pumped across the park through a rising main at a rate of 3 litres per second.
The water is then pre-treated using a backwash screen filter, bag and UV disinfection before being stored in a 30KL irrigation storage tank. A new plant room houses all treatment and process equipment alongside the irrigation storage tank. Water is then available in the tank ready to irrigate the park as needed.
Rose Bay Promenade
State of the art water sensitive urban design technology was installed at Rose Bay Promenade in 2008. The technology features a porous paving infiltration system that treats polluted stormwater run-off collected from New South Head Road. The treated stormwater is then diverted to underground tanks capable of storing up to 200,000 litres.
The stormwater is cleaned of oils, hydrocarbons, sediment and other typical road runoff pollutants by a double treatment system. Stormwater passes through pavers and then the underlying layers of sand and basalt, ensuring high quality water. Most of the pollutants are captured in the fine structure at the top of the paver, which can then be swept clean in-situ to ensure the paver remains porous and effective in transporting treated water to storage tanks below.
Treated stormwater is then collected in underground tanks below each of the 11 parking bays. The storage tanks have a total capacity of 200,000 litres. The water will then be re-used for localised irrigation and maintenance, including watering of the historic Hill's fig trees which line the promenade.
Cooper Park Sustainable Water Project
Woollahra Council received $250,000 between 2009 and 2011 from the NSW Environmental Trust for 'The Cooper Creek Sustainable Water Project'. The project aimed to ensure the long term health of Cooper Creek for future generations.
Why undertake the Cooper Creek Sustainable Water Project?
Cooper Park contains the largest area of bushland in Woollahra and the only significant natural creek system in the eastern suburbs. Urban development has put a great deal of pressure on the park.
Storm water run-off, dumping, garden waste and litter have led to loss of native vegetation and habitat and an increase in weeds in the park.
The creek has experienced declining water quality and siltation which in turn affects habitats and biodiversity.
Over the three year project, Woollahra Council worked to restore the bushland within Cooper Park, improve water quality in the creek and work closely with local residents to create sustainable gardens that will help reduce their impact on Cooper Park.
Projects carried out included: the introduction of a new storm water recycling system which saves and re-uses 3.3milliion litres of water every year and the rehabilitation of 3,800 square metres of bushland.
Sustainable Landscapes Project
The Sustainable Landscapes Project was designed to alter the behaviour of residents within the Cooper Park Catchment. Residents surrounding the park were encouraged to adopt new land management practices such as sustainable gardening, use of rainwater tanks, eco-gardens, native plants, waste avoidance and the recycling of garden and food waste through composting on site rather than dumping into surrounding bushland.
After initial consultation within the catchment area, Woollahra Council selected four households within the catchment to keep records of their water, energy and waste for one year and open their garden for sustainable landscaping workshops to teach neighbouring residents how they can create a sustainable garden in their own home, live green and reduce their impact on the local environment.
Steve Batley from Sydney Organic Gardens, a qualified landscape architect and permaculture designer, worked with the selected households to create a sustainable garden design that featured a range of elements including rainwater tanks, edible gardens, composting facilities and an aquaponics installation.
Watch video of the aquaponics installation.
A summary of the works undertaken in each garden can be found in the below fact sheets:
- Lamb Street, Bellevue Hill (PDF)
- Kendall Street, Woollahra (PDF)
- Attunga Street, Woollahra (PDF)
- Rivers Street,Bellevue Hill (PDF)
- Catchment Map (PDF)
Residents, businesses, schools and the broader community also became involved in the project through the Friends of Cooper Park network.
Many residents also enjoyed the Cooper Park Community Day held in October 2010 and November 2011 which included a range of free workshops, kids activities, giveaways and informative displays and talks about the history and fauna of the park.
Urbanisation and the associated increase in impervious surfaces, means that less water is absorbed into the ground and greater levels of surface water run-off are produced. Stormwater runoff collects a range of land based pollutants as it makes its way to the receiving waters.
Council undertakes a range of projects to manage stormwater and improve water quality.
Gross Pollutant Traps and Litter Nets
16 gross pollutant traps (GPT’s) and 4 litter nets are installed throughout the municipality. These traps and nets collect organic matter, litter and other waste washed into the drains and stormwater network before it enters the harbour. Council staff and contractors regularly clean out these traps and nets to ensure they are functioning correctly.
Council also provides free dog poo collection bags and cigarette butt bins in a number of Council parks to encourage residents to keep dog poo and cigarette butts out of our drains and harbour.
Council’s street sweeping activities assist in the removal of organic matter and litter from our streets before it gets washed into our stormwater network. All business centres are swept every day and all residential streets are swept every four weeks.
Water Quality Monitoring
The NSW State Government measures the recreational water quality of Sydney Harbour and the surrounding beaches through the Harbourwatch and Beachwatch programs.
Water samples are collected from all swimming locations in the greater metropolitan region once every six days as part of a long term monitoring program. In Woollahra, samples are collected from our five main swimming locations; Redleaf Pool, Rose Bay Beach, Nielsen Park, Parsley Bay and Watsons Bay.
The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage conducts regular water quality monitoring of NSW Beaches. Historical data and daily bulletins on water quality are available at Beachwatch.
Council beach cleaners carry out daily cleaning of the beach. The level of cleaning is dependent on the tides and includes the use of a tractor/beach rake 3 times a week and hand raking/litter picks on the remaining days (including weekends and public holidays above the high tide line when time and tide allows).
This beach cleaning program occurs all year round at nine sites in Double Bay, Rose Bay, Parsley Bay, Watsons Bay and Camp Cove.
While litter dropped by locals and visitors contributes to the need for beach cleaning, a significant amount of the litter that ends up on Woollahra beaches has been washed onshore from Sydney Harbour.
In partnership with Council’s beach cleaning program, there are a number of community groups who are taking action to address the issue of litter on our beaches with regular clean-up activities.
Bush Regeneration and Maintenance
Councils bush regeneration activities assist in retaining the ecological function of the riparian vegetation along natural waterways and creeks. Vegetation along the waterways assists in the natural treatment of water flowing through the creeks and into the Harbour.
Find out more about Council's bush regeneration program.
While our gross pollutant traps and litter nets can catch larger pollution such as litter, leaves and sediment, they cannot capture and treat suspended sediments, nutrients, phosphorus, nitrogen and heavy metals. This is where the water sensitive urban design (WSUD) technique of installing raingardens can make a big difference to our local water quality.
Raingardens resemble regular garden beds, except they're designed to capture and clean stormwater using a mix of plants, gravel and permeable surfaces. Pollutants are captured and treated by sand filters and plants such as macrophytes, sedges and rushes.
Woollahra Council is progressively integrating raingardens across our storm water network and water catchments to help reduce the amount of pollutants entering our waterways and the Harbour. To date we have installed ten raingardens at the following five sites:
- Powell Road, Rose Bay
- Lyne Park, Rose Bay
- Bunyula and Boronia Streets, Rose Bay
- Hopetoun Avenue, Vaucluse
- Bellevue Road, Bellevue Hill
Ensuring our buildings and community assets are water efficient is a key way that Council is working to conserve water.
Council has been actively implementing a range of water efficiency actions. These actions include:
- replacement of all fixtures in our facilities with water efficient fixtures
- protection of outdoor taps from inappropriate use
- use of bore water for irrigation of suitable sites
- installation of low flow drip irrigation into new landscaped areas
- use of drought tolerant species
- mulching of garden beds
- assessment of irrigation needs of Council’s sports fields
- installation of rainwater tanks at Council depots and amenities blocks
- incorporation of water sensitive urban design elements into infrastructure projects.
Combined, these actions have reduced Council’s annual potable (drinking) water usage by over 79,000 kilolitres. This represents a saving of 70% and clearly demonstrates our commitment to reducing water consumption.
If you spot a leak at a Council property, please contact Customer Service on 9391 7000 to report it as soon as possible.
Council's Floodplain Risk Management Committee is currently preparing comprehensive floodplain studies for the Rushcutters Bay, Double Bay, Rose Bay, Paddington and Watsons Bay catchments.