> The initiative
The problem: Established in 1974, Deakin University’s Waurn Ponds campus is in a picturesque small valley at the base of the Barrabool Hills, on Geelong’s western outskirts. With rolling hills, a small creek and a park-like landscape, it seemed the perfect site for advanced learning in a natural setting. Fast forward almost fifty years, and the campus has continued to grow up the valley sides and is facing many severe water-related issues. It has an undersized stormwater and drainage network, experiences regular flooding of buildings, is highly reliant on drinking water for irrigation and requires booster pumping of the drinking water supply. With continued campus growth and expected climate impacts, all these issues were likely to be exacerbated in the future.
The solution: In mid-2020, staff from across critical campus departments participated in an IWM Planning process facilitated by Encader Consulting. The Plan was Deakin’s chance to get everyone to stand back and understand the bigger picture rather than focus on their problem in isolation. The foundation step involved developing a shared understanding of the water cycle system issues and establishing clear goals for system resilience aligned to the University’s broader strategic directions.
Recognising that these and other water-related issues pose current and future challenges, the Integrated Water Management Working Group developed a whole-of-campus Integrated Water Management (IWM) Plan. The scope of the Plan includes:
- consumptive water use, including potable and alternative water sources
- stormwater, drainage and flooding
- Waurn Ponds Creek and tributaries
- water in the campus landscape
- social values of water, particularly Wadawurrung Traditional Owner values and community awareness
- economic values, particularly the links between the water cycle system and the University’s teaching and research
The second step involved the discovery of a spectrum of options to address each issue, options assessment, screening and co-design of options portfolios. Specialist consultant teams were engaged to audit, model, report and recommend actions for the following key components: class A recycled water; flood mitigation; landscape framework; sewer; stormwater; metering; and existing water pressure.
The third step involved developing the actions and presenting the IWM Plan. The final step involved implementation of the Plan, including securing endorsement across all levels, setting priorities, allocating resources and assigning responsibilities for action.
The result: Since endorsement in late 2020, Deakin has successfully implemented many of the priority actions identified in the Plan, including Stormwater Management, Flood Mitigation, and a Landscape Master Plan. The Plan also helped Deakin secure funds to convert the central stormwater chain of ponds into ecological stormwater treatment wetlands and to supply Class A Recycled Water for irrigation needs. Key areas of assessment and knowledge development have included: arboricultural impact assessments, cultural heritage assessments; fauna management; and stormwater strategy. Developing the Plan was a collaborative journey that helped transform how people viewed these complex issues and tapped into the shared desire to create a campus landscape that everyone could be proud of and enjoy.