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News

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Orange Council drive a new solution to an old problem

Mick Callan

As part of their Tranche 1 work, the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities (CRCWSC) is preparing case studies to showcase real-life projects which deliver water sensitive city outcomes. The aim of these case studies is to help build a body of evidence that can support and encourage the adoption of research outcomes. The first regional case study - Orange stormwater to potable: building urban water supply diversity - will be launched at the Conservation in Action: research to reality conference Welcome Drinks event on 15 May 2018, in Bathurst.

The case study examines Orange's experience in diversifying its water supply by capturing and treating urban stormwater to supplement the city's potable water supply.

 Holding dam and batch ponds

Holding dam and batch ponds

Orange faced six main drivers which led to the adoption of a stormwater to potable solution:

  1. Critical water shortages. By late 2007 the city’s water storages were below 40%. While significant resources were directed to reduce water consumption, by August 2008 the combined water storages had reached their lowest levels (26.7%). The city needed to identify alternative water supplies to augment its water supply.
  2. A willing community. Water restrictions and other water demand initiatives began in January 2003 and helped to reduce water use in Orange by around 38% to an average annual use of less than 4390 ML in 2008. By May 2008, living with level 5 water restrictions, the community wanted the council to do something quickly to provide more water for the city.
  3. Council leadership and innovation. Despite needing to find a solution quickly, the council didn’t just want a quick fix until the next rainfall event. Instead, it wanted a water security solution that would provide long term benefits. It was prepared to consider all options.
  4. Making the most of a wasted resource. During the drought, the rural catchments feeding the existing water supply dams did not generate enough runoff from the periodic rainfall to raise dam water levels.  In comparison, these rainfall events generated runoff from the impervious urban areas which discharged into the waterways downstream of the dam.
  5. Risk management and partnership. When the council decided on the Blackmans Swamp Creek urban stormwater harvesting scheme as the preferred option, it entered unchartered territory in terms of potable water supply. The council needed to demonstrate that it could safely deliver the project through detailed modelling, the development of risk assessments and frameworks, and ongoing monitoring.
  6. Cost effective operation of water supply options. A key driver was to ensure Orange’s supply diversity, and cost effective management of this diverse water portfolio.

From these starting points, Orange began an innovative resolution of its water supply problem:

  1. It decided to harvest urban stormwater for potable uses.
  2. It addressed knowledge gaps and created rules, to build confidence among regulators and the community.
  3. It looked to balance harvesting and environmental flow requirements.
  4. It looked to optimise the use of a treated stormwater dual pipe system in new residential developments.
 Homes in Orange now have two water meters in their front yard. The purple meter is for non-drinking water supply.

Homes in Orange now have two water meters in their front yard. The purple meter is for non-drinking water supply.

The outcome was an award winning (and community approved) demonstration of stormwater to potable uses. To learn about key lessons from the Orange experience, attend the launch (at the Conservation in Action: research to reality conference Welcome Drinks event) or look for our online release of the case study in May.

This media release has been adapted from the the CRCWSC website.

Conservation in Focus at Bathurst Conference

Mick Callan

Conservation in Action Logo

Conservation will be in the spotlight when 150 industry leaders and delegates descend on Bathurst from May 16 to 17.

Conservation in Action: Research to Reality will bring together people from across natural resource management including scientists, policy makers, program managers and specialists who implement works in the field.

Think waterways, natural landscapes, native flora and fauna, and threatened species – these are some of the topics that will be discussed over the two day event.

Conference committee member Mick Callan said it was a unique chance to have the biggest names in conservation under the one roof.

“We’ll have a variety of case studies presented as well as research findings and some educational talks – it will be a great snapshot of the work that is done every day across the country in conservation,” he said.

“One of Australia’s most respected environmental scientists Dr Ian Lowe will present a keynote address on day one of the conference. With a swag of awards and honours to his name, including the Centenary Medal for contributions to environmental science and the Eureka Prize for promotion of science, his presentation is one not to be missed”.

Additionally, an array of speakers are locked in to attend including critically endangered Regent Honeyeater researcher Ross Crates, coordinator of the NSW recovery program for the endangered Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby Dr Deborah Ashworth, and reptile and rocky outcrop expert Dr Damian Michael.

A series of supporting events have been organised to complement the conference program with workshops, field trips, social events and a photography competition all accessible to people who may not be able to attend the full conference.

The conference is being organised as a partnership between Central Tablelands Local Land Services, Central Tablelands Landcare and the Central West Councils Environment & Waterways Alliance.

Conservation in Action: Research to Reality will be held on May 16 and 17 at the Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre. A full conference program and a link to register can be found at http://www.cwcewa.com.au/conservation-in-action-2018/

 With as few as 5,000 breeding pairs left in the wild, the Superb Parrot needs all the help it can get. Fortunately, Laura Rayner is on the case studying their breeding ecology with a focus on hollows. Laura will discuss her work at the Conservation In Action Conference in Bathurst on May 16 to 17.

With as few as 5,000 breeding pairs left in the wild, the Superb Parrot needs all the help it can get. Fortunately, Laura Rayner is on the case studying their breeding ecology with a focus on hollows. Laura will discuss her work at the Conservation In Action Conference in Bathurst on May 16 to 17.

Battling Bushland Weeds at Mount Panorama

Mick Callan

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Weed control is taking place this week in a reserve at Mount Panorama to improve the condition of the Box Gum Grassy Woodland, an endangered vegetation type that once dominated large areas of the landscape within the Bathurst Region.

Noxious and environmental weed control is occurring in the Inner Track Reserve to rehabilitate 25ha of this woodland. Many birds depend on healthy woodlands for survival including the Diamond Firetail, a species of finch whose conservation status is listed as vulnerable in NSW.

Mayor Graeme Hanger OAM said the program is part of a valuable effort to reduce  the  presence  of  weeds throughout the region and greatly welcomed recent grant funding that has been provided to undertake the project.

“The project is supported by Local Land Services through funding from the Australian Government,” he said.

The weeds that are being targeted are forming a mid-canopy that is altering light  levels,  restricting  native  regeneration,  and providing excessive amounts of fleshy fruit resulting in an increase in exotic bird species.

These  weeds  will  be  replaced  with  dense prickly native shrubs such as Kangaroo  thorn and Bursaria, which will be planted in clusters to provide habitat for small woodland birds as well as reduce the potential for future weed re-invasion and erosion. Revegetation is proposed for Autumn 2018.