What is it to be Water Sensitive?

The goal of WSUD is to ensure water systems in and near urban environments are protected and repaired. 

Stormwater at Paekakariki

Stormwater at Paekakariki - image by RMM

Very simply, WSUD – water sensitive urban design – is about understanding sites – or whole communities – and their opportunities. This might be in the context of improving a declining catchment – restoring the health of an urban wetland or a stream – like the five and a half million dollar Waiwhetu stream clean-up in Lower Hutt. Or it might be about improving the resilience of a community – or both. Porirua has community rainwater tanks to capture fresh water for use in emergency responses – and is looking to have around 40 of them eventually – awesome. Urban rain tanks can be a great tool for teaching kids (and us too) about the water cycle, about growing plants, about what might be in our fresh water – and why it matters.  

Being water sensitive means choosing and positioning plants to soak up rainfall in suitable areas. It means reducing hard surfaces like impervious concrete, to minimise run-off, flooding and pollution. In more traditional systems, the water might be piped away to the sea. Some of NZ’s cities and towns have taken WSUD to heart, with rain tanks to flush public toilets or water municipal gardens, with strong policies on building and planting to sites and situation etc. We’re getting there…  

The starting point for WSUD is simple: the rain that falls on cities and towns is a precious resource, and is not simply a nuisance to be carried away as quickly as possible. With nearly half of NZ rates dollars going to water management (supply, stormwater and sewerage) – WSUD can save us money.  

more to come…

About robynmmoore

Anything to do with people and the environment and I'm interested! I have been writing and commenting about education, the environment and other community-related matters since 2006. I'm a compulsive researcher. In 2009, I finished a thesis on Kapiti's water issues and am still researching outcomes there. This website and the work I do as a trustee for the Whitireia Foundation are part of my aspiration to contribute to 'shaping more sustainable communities'...also the title of my thesis. Look it up - it's free at www.j.co.nz.
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