A moment of bioretention maintenance clarity


Hi there,

When you get into this episode, I suspect that you will find it aptly named. There is certainly some clarity… unfortunately it may have only lasted for a moment as I then went off on a tangent.

So what’s the topic? What so perplexing me to have made this episode even less clear than normal?

It was a sudden realisation that I had while bushwalking at Mount Hotham.

For a few years we have had guidelines in Australia for maintaining stormwater treatment systems. There are the Water by Design Guidelines. There are Melbourne Water’s Guidelines. They’re a good first step, but something about the inspection forms in them has always bothered me and I haven’t quite been able to explain what it is.

Enter a brief moment of clarity.

I think (and I say think because I’m sure that my thoughts on this matter are still developing). I think that what has been bothering me is that the current inspection forms implicitly lead us to treat these assets as fixed entities, rather than dynamic entities in a state of flux.

What do I mean by that?

Well a concrete pipe is fixed. Nearly anyway. It’s a concrete pipe the day we put it in. It roughly the same pipe tomorrow, and the day after. Admittedly it does change a little over time, but it’s very slow.

Green stormwater assets are not like that. They are dynamic. They are always changing. They are always in flux. That’s not a bad thing. In fact, if you can understand that state of flux I believe it can very much be your maintenance friend.

The difference is though in how we inspect these assets. If you inspect a pipe and find that it’s in a certain condition, we know an awful lot about it.

Not so with green assets. The change from the last inspection to the current one (the flux) is in many respects more important than the condition at either inspection.

And that was the moment of clarity. This episode explores that concept in details. Brace yourself though, the conversation wanders all over the shop (although not as much as the video bounces all over the shop… sorry but I was out bushwalking…).

I hope that you find this useful. Let me know if you do. Or don’t. Either way I want to know!