Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD)

Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) is a comprehensive approach to urban planning and design that integrates water into the built environment to better manage stormwater, enhance water quality, and improve sustainable urban development. WSUD involves an engineering system which maintains a more natural water system, protecting water quality from urban development impacts by reducing peak flows, taking advantage of water reuse opportunities, and capturing pollution using treatment trains.

Types of treatment trains include:

  • Vegetated swales – a wide, shallow channel which slows water velocity to capture litter and organic matter
  • Bioretention swales – a vegetated swale with a subsurface filter to treat stormwater and extend detention
  • Sediment basins – ponds that reduce flow velocity to allow settlement of coarse sediments
  • Bioretention basins – similar to bioretention swales but does not convey stormwater. Effective at treating pollutants from surface runoff
  • Constructed wetlands – vegetated water bodies that remove stormwater pollutants through sedimentation, fine filtration, and biological processes
  • Ponds – removes coarse and fine sediments through sedimentation and adsorbs nutrients from plants

What to consider for WSUD

Key considerations for WSUD include:

  • Understanding the local hydrology: Before designing any WSUD features, it is important to understand the local hydrology and water cycle. This includes the types and amounts of precipitation, surface water runoff patterns, and groundwater recharge potential.
  • Planning for integrated water management: WSUD requires a whole-of-water-cycle approach that considers both water supply and wastewater treatment. This means incorporating strategies for water conservation, rainwater harvesting, stormwater capture and reuse, and water sensitive sanitation.
  • Creating multi-functional landscapes: WSUD can be achieved through the integration of green infrastructure such as wetlands, bioswales, rain gardens, and permeable pavements. These features not only manage water but also provide multiple environmental and social benefits such as biodiversity, thermal comfort, and aesthetic value.
  • Ensuring feasibility and maintenance: WSUD features must be feasible in terms of construction, maintenance, and operation. They must also be designed to function effectively under a range of conditions such as high-flow events or drought. Long-term maintenance plans and funding mechanisms should also be considered.
  • Engaging with the community: WSUD requires collaboration and engagement across separate groups such as local authorities, developers, designers, and the community. Engaging community members in the planning and design process is important to ensure the successful implementation and long-term viability of WSUD features.

Why choose Neilly Davies?

Our water sensitive urban design experience spans the whole-of-catchment ‘treatment train’ process, including:

  • Constructed wetlands including landscape design and management / maintenance plans
  • Detention and sedimentation systems
  • Rainwater reuse tanks
  • Gross pollutant traps
  • Vegetated swales and bioretention systems
  • Whole-of-catchment and sub-catchment assessment

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