Six things that I took away from Stormwater 2016

Stormwater 2016 is already a week behind us, but some ideas/ topics/ discussions have stuck in my mind. That's a good thing. For me I go to these conferences to be inspired and expand my thinking. That can come from presentations, workshops, chance encounters and more. Here are six things that I took away from Stormwater 2016.

 The BC experience

No I don't mean early human history, I mean British Columbia, Canada. Kim Stephens from the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC gave a fascinating keynote presentation. One of his key messages was (and I'm paraphrasing) 'that if we get the hydrology right, then good urban water quality will follow'. In my six years in the stormwater industry in Queensland we have seen fairly consistent stormwater quality objectives, but our hydrology objectives have come, gone and maybe come back again? Sure, the frequent flow objective was challenging, but if the BC experience says that managing hydrology is the key, then perhaps we need those challenging objectives.

 Well thought out stormwater objectives

Jocelyn DelaCruz from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage gave a great presentation about work to set stormwater quality objectives for the Lake Illawarra catchment in NSW. These objectives were set based on receiving waterbody condition and needs. Combine that with a willingness to admit that there is always more work to be done and I was very impressed with Jocelyn's presentation. A big thumbs up there.

Paying for WSUD maintenance

Prior to the conference I had the chance to read an early version of Martin O'Dea's (from Clouston Associates) conference paper. It was titled 'The Green and Blue Web'. There was A LOT in this paper, but his thoughts on options for funding maintenance of stormwater treatment systems caught my attention. On the Tuesday morning Martin and I took a moment to explore those options in more detail on camera.

Wetlands and birds

I have had mixed feelings about stormwater treatment wetlands for a while now. They're incredible when they work, but so often I see them lose all their vegetation. The culprit is often birds, and until the technical tour on Friday I hadn't heard a viable option for managing this problem. Enter Shaun Leinster of DesignFlow. Shaun showed the technical tour around the wetlands at Gainsborough Greens. Almost in passing he mentioned a way to encourage vegetation to regrow in wetlands that have previously been damaged by birds. Shaun suggested that such wetlands could be drained for several months a year to discourage birds and allow the vegetation a chance to regrow. More on that in the future.

Researching maintenance of stormwater control measures

This wouldn't be an article written by me if it didn't dwell on maintenance of stormwater treatment systems. I met Andrew Thomas at the conference and sat down for a chat on video about his research into the maintenance of stormwater control measures.

Some people have amazing stories - you just don't always get to hear them

Michael Groom's closing keynote was something else. His story is amazing. But what actually struck me was comment I heard on the way out. It went something like 'it's a pity that he didn't get to tell what happened next'. What? Michael just told a story involving a 900 vertical meter fall down a mountain in an avalanche and there's more that we didn't hear? A quick google yesterday and now I understand. If you enjoyed Michael's presentation, then I suggest that you google his name and find out more... then you can join me in petitioning for Michael to return for Stormwater 2018 to complete his story.

See you next time.


Jack Mullalystormwater