A recent paper has suggested a 10 per cent diversion of individual households’ water supply to gardens could help restore urban ecosystems.
With our homes so densely packed together, the opportunity for rainwater to find its way into local streams is diminished, the report found. This is leading to the degradation of our natural aquatic ecosystems, particularly during times of low rainfall.
This density also makes it difficult to employ large scale solutions, the paper reported, with retro fits at a street or suburb scale particularly difficult.
The findings by CQUniversity PhD student David Buck, however, suggests there may be a solution at an allotment scale.
Combining his academic findings with 35 years of experience as a plumber, Mr Buck’s review focuses on improving the baseflow of water by employing sensitive urban design systems, particularly through rainwater harvesting.
“A minimal 10 per cent reduction in household water supply might facilitate significant improvements for the environment,” Mr Buck said.
“It is vital that we look beyond studies of water quality and hydrogeomorphology,” the report stated, “and into natural baseflow regimes and whether restoration is possible to within the ecological limits.”
Mr Buck recognised the potential of rainwater tanks in this regard, saying their stormwater overflow could be redirected to permeable lands, “allowing drainage through soil substrate rather than to a drainage system for disposal”.
“The significance here is the potential to easily adapt in-situ rainwater tanks to create environmental betterment with little interruption to the water supplied to the household,” Mr Buck said.
Returning this rainwater to our gardens could help ensure ecological flows continue. Even in drought conditions, this minor water diversion could help replenish local streams and maintain their ecosystems.