Local water systems are essential in tackling rising temperatures in Sydney’s western suburbs and should be at ‘the heart’ of future strategies, according to a leading recycled water utility provider.
Councils are currently considering a number of pilot programs to reduce a phenomenon known as ‘urban heat island effect’, which is caused by a high concentration of concrete, bitumen and buildings. Innovative measures to address this phenomenon include painted roads and playground equipment that reduce the spread of ultraviolet light.
Terry Leckie, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Altogether, believes water should be captured at a local community level and kept within the community to be used over and over again.
“Managing all water within an integrated system in each community ensures efficiency and balance,” says Mr Leckie. “This local approach gives communities control over water use and their ability to counter urban heat island effects.”
In Sydney’s west, community-based systems can complement regional recycled water schemes servicing facilities and businesses such as sporting stadiums and agribusiness.
Altogether — an Australian company — has already revolutionised recycled water systems in masterplanned communities such as The Gables at Box Hill and Huntlee in the Hunter Valley. In the past decade Altogether has progressed nine local community schemes that will ultimately supply over 60,000 water services to customers.
“Councils are trying to plan to combat the urban heat island effect with a number of tactics, but what is really needed is a change in the development process which puts the environment first with shade and water usage at its heart,” says Mr Leckie.
“We have already seen the benefits locally sourced water systems can have in creating a greener and more shaded community. At Sydney’s Central Park, residents live in buildings surrounded by green walls and within walking distance of local parks maintained by reusing locally captured water.
“Altogether enables more extensive landscaping with mature trees and plants, allowing developers to build their green footprint quickly accessing a water resource that is not subject to any restrictions — even in a drought.”
A report by Sydney Water reveals temperatures in outer Western Sydney could be reduced by as much as 4.6 degrees by ‘innovative streetscape design and stormwater capture’.
NSW Western Sydney Minister Stuart Ayres is also calling for investment in such cutting-edge water technology, particularly in new growth areas around the Badgerys Creek airport.
Altogether's local community water schemes capture water and return it for use in homes, offices and shops for non-drinking purposes such as use on gardens and lawns, for washing down outdoors, flushing toilets, clothes washing and air conditioning systems.
These systems have been proven to improve water usage efficiency by between 40–70%.
Mr Leckie says local systems are the future for the growth and renewal of our cities as they complement the existing public water systems and new regional water systems.
“They enable resilience, efficiency and return control to the community. They enable the implementation of smaller scale local technologies as they arise and encourage initiatives that support the local economy.
“We’re constantly exploring new possibilities to progress communities. We get feedback from developers that our approach means development starts sooner. And hear from new homeowners that our services protect their investment, whether it be the establishment of new gardens or the long-term value of their home.
“We know that capturing essential resources such as water and energy locally and making these available for people to use locally is the most efficient way to ensure communities thrive.”