- Water Use: The Department of Water has capped the City’s annual allocation of ground water used for irrigation at 709,300 kilolitres, based on 7,500 kilolitres per hectare of irrigated area per year. There is a possibility the Department of Water will reduce the allowance of water use to approximately 6,000 kilolitres per hectare, per year (equivalent to 2.4 Olympic-sized pools).
- Climate Change: Continued climate change with increased temperatures and reduced rainfall, but increased intensity, requires a change of thinking in management practices.
- Passive Recreation Use: An increase in demand and usage for passive recreation requires the need to improve the management of turf and to ensure turf selection for passive recreation is best matched to the uses. The aim for the correct management of recreation grassed surfaces is to ensure they will withstand deterioration in quality.
- Water Quality: The quality of the ground water is currently reduced due to the rain water being directed via drainage systems to the Swan River, instead of naturally dispersing into the water aquifer which sits below the ground surface.
- Vegetation: The health and retention of native vegetation, most notably trees, is impacted by the quality of the ground water and how the water is applied.
- User accessibility: Increased demand and a changing user profile requires a rethinking of accessibility.
What is Enviro-scape Precinct Master Planning?
Enviro-scape precinct master planning is a strategic operational process that coordinates the future development of the City’s park precincts. It considers water quality and conservation (hydro-zoning, eco-zoning), the natural and built environment and climate change, along with accessibility, amenity, community use and ensuring the precinct is fit for purpose. The plan developed aims to ensure that community needs are served at the most economic whole-of life cost.
What are the issues the master plan will address?
There are 67 parks in the City of Nedlands. The enviro-scape plans to be prepared for each of these parks address the following issues:
What is hydro-zoning and eco-zoning?
This process includes hydro-zoning which is a water conservation practice that defines zones of usage and plant types with differing watering requirements, and eco-zoning where the watering needs of plants are met by rainfall alone.
How will the groundwater aquifers work in the future?
The planning process also considers the management of groundwater aquifers in terms of the total water cycle that includes storm water capture and infiltration into the aquifer, where it is stored, and eventual abstraction of the groundwater for watering of parks.
Why is the grass being replaced with mulch around the edges of the park?
The City is proposing to replace the turf with mulch around the edges of the park as the current water usage and quality is likely to become unsustainable into the future. In addition, replacing the turf with mulch around the mature native trees, together with eliminating groundwater irrigation will support their continued long-term health and viability.
Our future environment is likely to have reduced water allowances for irrigation, increased park user numbers requiring better managed turf surfaces, and a need to maintain or increase tree canopy cover. As a result, the City needs to identify and implement practical solutions to continue to provide appealing and functional parks.
The alternative to replacing grass and mulching would be to reduce watering to grass areas, beyond the boundary of the turf areas, to levels that would not support satisfactory grass growth and which would eventually result in large areas of sparse, brown and sandy ground.
What happens next?
The initiatives will be delivered over the long term. The following initiatives have been listed for the current and future Capital Works Program until 2018/19.
The Capital Works Program is reviewed on a yearly basis and as part of this review, the priorities may change as a result of the condition and age of the assets changing. The assets that require renewal will be replaced in accordance with this Enviro-Scape Master Plan.
The priorities for the coming financial years are:
2017/18 Capital Works Program
· Install subterranean storm water infiltration infrastructure
· Construct dog sand play swale
· Install internal paths
· Install new fence and gate to separate dog exercise areas
· Reconfigure irrigation system to accommodate new infrastructure
2019/20 Capital Works Program
· Renew section of existing perimeter fence
· Renew basketball backboard and hoop
· Replace existing entry gates with two-gated entrance configuration for dogs