Water sensitive urban design

Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) integrates water cycle management into urban planning and design. An alternative term that is gaining popularity is Integrated Water Cycle Management (IWCM).

WSUD looks to manage the impacts of stormwater in urban impervious area. WSUD can function at a series of scales, from the plot, the street and the precinct. Ultimately, the aim is to have an impact at the regional or catchment scale because at this level it can help to protect and improve waterway health by incorporating natural water cycle processes into the urban landscape. WSUD applications can include purely engineered solutions, but in many cases a combination of engineered and vegetated/biological solutions.Clearwater biofilter

Green infrastructure WSUD applications can include:

  • grassed or landscaped swales
  • infiltration trenches
  • bio-retention systems (biofilters)
  • rain gardens
  • tree pits
  • green roofs
  • porous pavements


Bio-retention systems, also known as rain gardens, are vegetated filters that pond stormwater and slowly filter it to provide high levels of stormwater treatment in a relatively small footprint. The use of biological processes to treat stormwater, while facilitating conveyance and retention, gives rise to the name bio-retention.

Citygreen_structural soilInfiltration trenches are filled with porous material and engineered to collect run-off. Stormwater infiltrates from the walls and base of the trench into the surrounding soil, while particulate and some dissolved pollutants can be retained in the porous material.

Swales are linear depression channels that provide stormwater collection and conveyance. They can be grass-lined or more densely vegetated and landscaped.



TITLE: Optimising saline biofilter performance through plant selection

FUNDING SOURCE: City of Melbourne, Melbourne Water (2013-2014)

RESEARCHERS: Chris Szota, Tim Fletcher and Stephen Livesley

OVERVIEW: Experimentally assessing salt tolerance, nutrient uptake and water use to optimise plant selection for maintained biofilter performance under saline stormwater conditions….read more


TITLE: Road edge treatments for stormwater reduction and street tree health

FUNDING SOURCE: Office of Living Victoria, Melbourne Water, City of Monash (2013-2015)

RESEARCHERS: Stephen Livesley , Andrew Coutts (Monash)

OVERVIEW: Trialing, testing and promotion of simple, cost effective kerb and nature strip treatments to maximise benefits for local stormwater reduction, street tree health and their capacity to influence urban microclimates to enable large scale implementation for maximum benefit….read more

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