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Evolution of Total Water Cycle Management in Townsville City an infrastructure based approach from “Creek to Coral“ Tuesday, 28 th February 2006. Greg Bruce Manager Environmental Management. Welcome to Townsville.

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Evolution of Total Water Cycle Management

in Townsville City

an infrastructure based approach from “Creek to Coral“

Tuesday, 28th February 2006

Greg Bruce

Manager Environmental Management


Welcome to Townsville

  • Townsville is Queensland’s largest regional City, and together with the neighbouring City of Thuringowa is home to over 158,500 people and covering a combined area of c. 4000 km2 (TCC – 1800 km2)

Image from NASA WorldWind

Wet Tropics WHA

Townsville City

RAMSAR Wetlands

Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area



and proximity to Great Barrier Reef & World Heritage Areas


A Distinctive Queensland Experience

  • Townsville is where the Tropical Savannas meet the coast and is the southern gateway to the Wet Tropics and at the City’s Strand foreshore abuts the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area

Townsville Citiwater Biogas Project

Grid-connected cogeneration, renewable


Water Governance Challenges:

    • Proximity to Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area
    • Impost of additional financial and environmental regulations
    • Lack of knowledge of tropical ecosystems and impacts
    • Defining management actions and lacking expertise
    • Fragmentation of jurisdictions, planning, regulation, and failure to understand inherent interconnectiveness of water cycle
    • Lack of ownership by people of problems and solutions – “belongs to government not us”

As expressed by AWA:the “separation of the urban water supply and wastewater system from the stormwater system” and does “not reflect the theoretical water cycle”

(2002 Senate Inquiry into Australia’s Urban Water Management)


“The major threats to the health, productivity and biodiversity of coastal and marine environments result from human activities on land.

In many cases water resources in streams, rivers and groundwater reservoirs transport pathogens, nutrients, sediments, heavy metals, persistent organic pollutants and litter

large distances from the hilltops to the oceans”.

Hilltops2Oceans (H2O) Partnership Initiative, 2004


“There is no solution that can be successful from the top down. We must build social capital at the grass roots – empowering communities”

Ismail Serageldin of the World Bank, (in Hatziolos, Hooten, Fodor, 1997).


Process to Total Water Cycle Management:

    • Drivers for Change
    • Acting Locally – Commencing the Journey
    • From Stormwater to Total Water – Citiworks and Citiwater
    • Integrating with and acknowledge community
    • Evolving to Creek to Coral (connecting land, water and marine environment)
    • Integrating total water with Sustainability and urban development

Our Council’s total water mgt approach shows:

    • Changes in culture and management in TCC
    • Evolving an approachlinking water utility management with Wetlands, Waterways, Ecosystems, Community & overall Sustainability
    • Community acknowledgement and involvement
    • Consideration of the marine environment
    • Partnership with the City of Thuringowa (COT) & EPA
    • Removing fragmentation, Jurisdiction, planning and regulation, environment and industry
    • on the infrastructure-based and community involvement project “Creek to Coral”.

More specifically: Involving Key Aspects

  • Commitment to Fostering Partnerships
  • Adaptability (adaptive management)
  • Ownership of the Water Cycle
  • Within a framework of co-learning and community development
  • In model of scarce resources and requiring innovation
  • Involving Engineers, Environment Officers, NGO (CVA), Volunteers, Students (School / University) and Community Groups
  • Framework of “4C’s”Catchment Tours, Curriculum, Creekwatch, & Coast-Marine
  • Knowledge & Communication Networks – Sustainable Education Network & Centre for Excellence in Tropical Design (CETD – Sustainability & Innovation)

Council’s approach in integrated water management evolved from conflict into partnership

  • Commencing with our drainage engineers and conflict with mangrove and drains and flood management
  • Water management initially focused on stormwater and water quality
  • The Urban Stormwater Quality Management Plan (1998) allowed TCC to acquire funding to implement integrated stormwater improvement

  • This led to partnership between TCC Environmental Management Services and Citiworks, creating sustainable engineering solutions to stormwater management issues

Key outcomes of the NHT Clean Seasand USI projects are:

    • Infrastructure to capture pollutants
    • Opportunity to monitor urban water quality
    • Results indicating high nutrient levels (Sadler, 2003)
    • Council’s capacity to provide integrated solutions to water: (eg. stormwater and fish habitat)
  • And
  • The newly-forged Engineering–Environmental partnership became,the catalyst for managing the Total Water Cycle “Rainfall to Outfall”

A National Report on Urban Water stated that:

“One clear lesson from the project (TCC’s Clean Seas & Urban Stormwater Initiative) is the benefit of protection of the whole system – including land and water use policies for contiguous and surround sites – rather than simply addressing components of it, such as the construction of “end of pipe” wetlands prior to discharge”.

“The Value of Water - Urban Water Management Inquiry” (2002)

and yet:

This National Water report still did not address the roles of natural & ecological systems in water management, and

Made no attempt to link urban water with the impacts of land-based activities on the marine environment,




  • Commence … “holy grail” triple bottom line concepts of sustainability, including:
    • Rainfall to Outfall;
    • Traditional Waterwise;
    • Methane capture.
  • Since then:
    • A movement towards managing water resources as a whole;
    • An adaptive learning journey.
  • remembering that “Value of Water” maintains the compartmentalised approach is the norm

Integrating Total Water Cycle Management with Sustainability and Urban Development

    • Council’s Sustainable Townsville programme
    • World Class Water Recycling Commitment90% Dry Weather reuse by 2008
    • Increased energy requirements = CO2e emissions up
    • Linking energy and water (carbon neutral)
    • (see

Accelerated Sustainability intensive planning(AtKisson Accelerator) May 2004,

    • Water - a key natural “system”
    • A locally “global” or city-wide
    • Energy-water
  • (see

Nature Systems – Water Cycle Management

Nature Systems Maps

Catchment Management

Waterway stormwater

Homes / water conservation

Industry / Parks water conservation

Wastewater efficiency TBL

Regulatory effectiveness / appropriate

Energy Management opportunities


“Creek to Coral” incorporates four key responses and working groups:

    • Infrastructure (water, wastewater, dams, drains & waterways)
    • Community Involvement and Partnership,
    • Integrated Monitoring & Research, and
    • Environmental Emergency Response
    • (Creek to Coral Business Plan, 2004).

“Creek to Coral” is a different approach.

  • Demonstrates a change in culture and a willingness to partner.
  • In sync with three of four International Coral Reef Initiative’s (ICRI) themes:
    • Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM),
    • Capacity Building,
    • Research and Monitoring
    • (ICRI Renewed Call to Action, 1998).

Natural Resources Management

of Waterways & Catchments



Natural Heritage Trust &

(Budekin Dry

City Council

Regional Arrangements

Tropics Board)

in partnership


with CoT & EPA




(Natural Resources



Seagrass Watch



Stormwater quality

Reef Check


of Water

Water Supply


Grondwater regulation






& Involvement

& wetlands


Creek to coral

Community Based approach

Infrastructure Base


Local - Townsville

Globally and nationally

Sustain – Youth Environment Network

World Ocean Networknetwork of educators and communicators

Creek to Coral - an infrastructure based approach networked

UN Hilltops2Oceans

& FreshCo / ICRI /

Global Water Partnership

ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability

Sustainable Townsville a cluster networks and sustainability

Centre of Excellence in Tropical Design

(Sustainability & Innovation)

Queensland Water Directorate


Community-Based Education & Involvement (CBEI)

  • Community education has been an integral component of the shift in transformation of cultures and paradigms within TCC concerning water management over the last 10 years
  • To be effective requires an on-going commitment to partnering-networks, and community capacity building is crucial to foster and engender city-wide ownership of catchment programs & water quality management
  • This commitment provides a basis for a co-learning environment guided by the principles of Community Development,
  • And is reflective of both local, regional, national and international policy development shifts and

In 2004 over 2000 students were involved in local ‘learn-scape’ tours visiting Townsville’s wetlands, waterways, coastal scapes and catchments from:

  • Hilltops and Summits, Lakes & Waterways, Water Treatment Facilities, Wastewater/Water Recycling Treatment Plants, Creeks & Pollution Control systems, Strand Wind Turbine (renewable energy education), and Marine Environment
  • Eco-catchment tours are an excellent way to celebrate annual environmental events and activities such as:
  • - World Wetlands Day - World Water Day - World Ocean Day

Eco-catchment tours now underpin the community framework for fostering city-wide catchment education and involvement by simply showing the community the environment that we live in

  • The tours have facilitated and are building capacity for enhanced community participation in environmental activities and on-going, long-term ownership of local environments and habitats as well as generating interest, awareness and appreciation for the local environment


  • Creekwatch is setup to empower community ownership and participation where it is otherwise missing or resources are poor
  • Provides an appropriate framework of support, flexible, teambuilding & diversity of activities for participants
  • There are three locally active Creekwatch community groups within the Townsville region:

- Louisa Creekwatch

- Sachs Creekwatch

- Mundy Creekwatch

coast marine community groups supported by creek to coral and townsville city council
Coast & Marine Community Groupssupported by Creek to Coral and Townsville City Council

  • Reef Check - Townsville
  • Seagrass Watch


Reporting back and providing information to community on environment & water mgt - Townsville’s NAD & SOE

  • Has included development of the Council’s innovative and dynamic web-based
    • Townsville Regional Natural Assets Database (NAD) and
    • State of Environment Report (SOE) 2003