Climate, Pollution and Adaptation
Chapter 3: Sustaining urban water environments
Water is among the most important resources in an urban area. In the built environment, a reticulated water supply system is needed for activities such as consumption, gardening, recreation, commerce and industrial uses. However, the focus here is the natural water environments in urban areas. Even though most urban water resources are not used for contact recreation or consumption purposes, these resources nevertheless fulfil an essential role in the urban environment. As pointed out in Chapter 1, the water environments are viewed as ‘islands of tranquillity’ in the otherwise busy urban environment. Therefore, the urban water environments are greatly valued as environmental, aesthetic and recreational assets. In response, current urban planning practices in Australia have adopted the water environment as a central focus starting from the neighbourhood creek to the major waterways. For example, Brisbane, the capital of Queensland State refers to itself as the ‘River City’. As explored in detail in Chapter 1, with the rapid spread of urbanisation, urban water environments are being increasingly threatened due to adverse quantitative and qualitative impacts associated with stormwater runoff. In summary, quantitative impacts from stormwater runoff arise from changes to the catchment hydrology and consequent changes to the runoff hydrograph. Qualitative impacts occur due to the enhanced rate of transport by stormwater runoff of pollutants of physical, chemical and biological origin into waterways originating from various anthropogenic activities common to urban areas (Goonetilleke and Thomas, 2003).
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