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Water Sensitive Urban Design/Development

Research on the opportunities and barriers to WSUD adoption in the Botany Bay Catchment was carried out in late 2007 as a part of the BBCCI.
A short final report (30 pages) detailing the findings was prepared in December 2007.
To download a PDF copy please click here.

During the research into the barriers and opportunities to WSUD adoption in the Botany Bay catchment one of the highest rated opportunities was to provide councils with a model WSUD/Stormwater clause that could be included in their LEPs. The BBCCI has developed a model clause based on DECC’s recent advice to councils, which local councils can consider during the development of their LEP’s. The document is very short (2 pages) and includes a one page introduction sheet. It was prepared in June 2008 and can be downloaded below.

Click here to download the model WSUD/Stormwater LEP Clause, June 2008

A water sensitive urban design (WSUD) adoption strategy has been prepared for the Botany Bay Catchment. It gives a good snapshot of the levels of uptake of WSUD by councils throughout the catchment along with those expecting to include WSUD in future planning policies.

Click here to download the WSUD Adoption Strategy for the Botany Bay Catchment, May 2008

What is Water Sensitive Urban Design?

Water Sensitive Urban Design/Development (WSUD) is a new way of planning and designing urban environments that is sensitive to the issues of water sustainability and environmental protection.

The term combines two elements – “water sensitive” and “urban design”. Urban design is a well recognised field associated with the planning an architectural design of urban environments, covering issues that have traditionally appeared outside of the water field but nevertheless have implications for environmental impacts on land and water.

WSUD brings “sensitivity to water” into urban designs. The words “Water Sensitive” define a new way to integrate urban water cycle management that involves the various disciplines of engineering and environmental sciences associated with the provision of water services, including the protection of aquatic environments in urban areas. Community values and aspirations of urban places necessarily govern design decisions and therefore water management practices. Collectively WSUD tries to integrate the social and physical sciences.

The key objectives of WSUD include:

  • Reducing potable water demand through water efficient appliances, rainwater and greywater reuse.
  • Minimising wastewater generation and treatment of wastewater to a standard suitable for effluent reuse opportunities and/or release to receiving waters.
  • Protect and restore aquatic ecosystems and habitats
  • Treating urban stormwater to meet water quality objectives for reuse and/or discharge to surface waters.
  • Preserving the natural hydrological regime of catchments.
  • Protect the scenic, landscape and recreational values of waterways
  • Reducing minor flood risks in urban areas

For the Botany Bay Catchment and this Coastal Catchments Initiative WSUD is likely to be one of the key solutions to improving water quality (particularly stormwater quality) and minimising ecological impacts on the Bay and its waterways. It requires a shift in thinking so that stormwater is viewed as a valuable resource rather than a nuisance.

What does WSUD look like on the ground?

WSUD requires an individual design approach to each site and as a result there isn’t a combination of solutions or devices that will be “right” in each situation. The unique characteristics and intended uses of each site will determine what WSUD solutions are best included into the design. Below are some examples of what has been done by local councils and developers in the Botany Bay Catchment.

These are a few examples of WSUD in the Botany Bay Catchment.

Central roadway bioretention treatment system


This is a bioretention system that treats the stormwater running off the roadways in this development at Victoria Park in Zetland.



Constructed wetland treating stormwater at the top of the Cooks River




This is wetland that is also treating stormwater from a very industrialised area at the top of the Cook’s River in Chullora.



Commercial building with bioretention systems, permeable paving and below ground rainwater tanks (Sutherland Shire Council, Sydney)


This is a commercial building in Loftus and it has permeable pavements on the carpark and a bioretention system to treat its stormwater. This building also captures the rainwater that falls on its roof and stores it in below ground rainwater tanks to be used to flush the toilets throughout the building. This building was developed and is owned by Sutherland Shire Council.

Want to find out more?

There are a lot more detailed examples, case studies and pictures of WSUD at the Water Sensitive Urban Design in Sydney Program’s website.

   Contact Us: John Dahlenburg   02 9895 6244   photo credits   
Botany Bay Coastal Catchments Initiative Website