Melbourne's Bay free from chemical run-off

Sunday, 02 April, 2006

Port Phillip Bay in Melbourne is being protected by Monash researchers who have developed 'rain gardens' that filter Melbourne's storm water, preventing chemically-tainted urban run-off from polluting the Bay and local streams.

With research partners, the scientists have developed rain garden biofilters through which rain run-off is channeled and filtered through soil and plants. The run-off is then collected for re-use in irrigation, or piped back into the storm water drain network.

The rain gardens mean cleaner water will trickle into Melbourne's bay -- free of pollutants such as nitrogen and heavy metals.

The director of Monash's Institute of Sustainable Water Resources, Dr Tim Fletcher, said dirty storm water was the most significant threat to the health of Port Phillip Bay.

"The government's environment strategy is to protect the Bay from nitrogen, and to reduce pollutants in the Yarra River, because their sustainability depends on that," he said.

As a result of work by Melbourne Water and other organisations, including Monash, the rain gardens are already operating in new residential developments, including Docklands, and in inner urban areas such as Richmond. Averaging around five square metres in size, the gardens 'clean' storm water run-off as it passes through a bed of sandy loam soil which is filled with reeds and other water-friendly plants.

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