Saving water in Perth's fast-growing suburb
As the population booms in Perth’s outer suburbs, future-proofing new parks and buildings from tighter water restrictions is becoming one of local government’s greatest challenges.
WA’s capital is facing a drier climate. Its football grounds and cricket fields all need watering but the prospect of tighter water restrictions means innovative solutions are required by local governments.
In the City of Swan’s growth corridor, about 20 km north-east of Perth, the struggle between providing community facilities and conserving water is particularly noticeable.
The population of one of the City’s (and Australia’s) fastest growing suburbs — Ellenbrook — spiked from about 14,000 residents in 2006 to more than 40,000 in 2016. Similar growth is expected in new subdivisions over the next decade too, presenting the City of Swan with further challenges.
Several years ago, the City needed a solution to provide playing fields for the Ellenbrook district. Faced with the obstacles of limited land, the exploding population and no water allocation, the City needed an innovative solution to secure recreational space.
Mayor Mick Wainwright said research determined traditional grass turf would simply not cope with the future wear and tear caused by the burgeoning community, whereas synthetic turf could handle three times the use.
“We proceeded to build the largest synthetic playing surface in the southern hemisphere,” he said.
“Not only can the rectangular synthetic surface handle a higher turnover of teams, the watering and overall cost is lower than natural turf.”
As many council areas face the triple threat of water restrictions, increasing population and demand for recreational facilities, City of Swan’s new Ellenbrook Sports Hub is a paradigm shift.
Using synthetic turf saves about 35,000 kL of water a year — equivalent to 14 Olympic-size swimming pools.
The four synthetic soccer fields opened in September 2016 and are adaptable to five-a-side futsal, small sided AFL, touch rugby and ultimate Frisbee — set to service the community for decades to come.
Meanwhile, population growth necessitates the construction of more community centres and pavilions.
The City of Swan is trialling new water storage techniques in community buildings built in new suburbs such as Aveley, where underground and external tank systems supply most of the facilities water needs.
“While urban expansion presents environmental challenges, it also presents opportunities to trial new water and energy-saving technologies,” Mayor Wainwright said.
“There is so much opportunity in suburbia to iron out the best ways to approach rainwater harvesting and tailoring that to the use of the building.”
“The benefit of these systems is not always economic, but as water restrictions become tighter, it becomes a moral decision for local governments to implement these technologies.”
“We look forward to trialling more technologies and investigating their most efficient application.”
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