Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Water savings possible: expert

Urban water study provides district residents with water-saving solutions.

TRENT HORNEMAN December 11, 2012 4:04am

Dr Peter Breen (left) and Katie Brooks of e2designlab are preparing a report into water saving initiatives for Echuca, as part of an Echuca-Moama Sustainable Water Group project, co-ordinated by Professor Barry Hart.

A water consultant believes central Echuca has the capacity to save large volumes of water.

Dr Peter Breen, director of E2designlab, is completing a study into water sensitive urban design projects for Echuca.

Dr Breen said harvesting and storing stormwater could give Echuca a more secure water supply.

‘‘When it comes to harvesting water, urban areas are ideal, because water does not sink into the soil, because most surfaces are solid,’’ he said.

‘‘Harvesting water could more than negate the impact of global warming into the future.’’

Dr Breen said his study would look at the region’s climate, as well as ideas to maximise water harvesting and water saving.

‘‘The region is quite flat, with a clay base. Large holes need to be dug to store water. A simple idea such as digging the hole deeper and covering part of it can create an artificial aquifer to effectively store water without the threat of evaporation.’’ he said.

‘‘Water savings could also be used to recharge bores, which could lead to a positive impact on water tables, easing the effect of salinity and other environmental issues.’’

Dr Breen said water harvesting in Echuca was essential, as stormwater was not being effectively used at the moment.

‘‘Stormwater tends to hit a town in a rush, usually when it is not needed. It then makes its way into the river system without any real purpose,’’ he said.

‘‘Harvesting it would help with environmental projects in a town centre, which would have a wonderful benefit for residents.

‘‘The amount of water harvest would not have any great impact on water levels in the Murray or even the Campaspe River. It’s two-fifths of bugger-all.’’

Dr Breen said he had completed similar reports for about a dozen areas, including parts of Melbourne.

‘‘The general idea stays pretty much the same. It is more important for us to look at the environment and the climate in the region,’’ he said.

Echuca-Moama Sustainable Water Group commissioned the report, which is due to be complete in February.

Group co-ordinator Professor Barry Hart said the report would be a key tool in changing people’s perception on water savings.

‘‘During the drought, people were conscious about saving water. A couple of good years, water is back in the region and people can become forgetful,’’ he said.

‘‘For this project to be successful, we need the support of residents, businesses and local government.

‘‘This report is the building block to be able to sway opinion.’’

Prof Hart said he would call on the public to comment on the report, to come up with the best ideas for water saving projects in Echuca.

‘‘The cost of the report is nothing compared to the cost of implementing these ideas.

‘‘It is a hard sell, but it is worth selling,’’ he said.

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