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Review of WSUD Case Studies – William Wu

Project Details

Project type: B.Sc (Eng) Research Project

Author: William Wu

Supervisor/s: Prof N.P. Armitage (Supervisor), Mr D. Coulson (Co-Supervisor)

Date of Completion: 2012

Download: William Wu (2012)


This research project expands on the efforts of the Urban Water Management Group of UCT in implementing Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) in South Africa. The goal of this research project is to present case studies that showcase the types and benefits of WSUD projects in the international and local contexts.

Numerous urban areas are faced with severe water issues due to water scarcity and poor water management, and there have been ongoing efforts to improve the management of the urban water cycle. One such effort is WSUD, an urban water management concept that aims to manage all three components of the urban water cycle holistically, and to integrate this cycle with urban design aspects.

There are excellent WSUD case studies in Australia such as Figtree Place, Mawson Lakes, and The Grove Precinct. At Figtree Place, an integrated stormwater management system collects and utilises stormwater for non-potable uses, and for aquifer recharge. Mawson Lakes and The Grove Precinct have similar measures, but they also incorporate a wastewater reclamation system that collects wastewater, treats it, and then distributes it for non-potable uses. Projects that incorporate certain aspects of WSUD also exist. In Cairns (Australia), a WDM strategy is in place. The strategy includes economic structures, water demand policies, and water saving devices. Water-scarce regions use alternative water sources such as seawater and reclaimed wastewater. In Hong Kong, seawater is used for toilet flushing, and rainwater harvesting is practised in globally. In Windhoek (Namibia), Israel and Florida there are extensive wastewater reclamation systems, which are also integrated into managed aquifer recharge schemes. In Sydney (Australia) has developed a new wastewater reclamation strategy called sewer mining. Numerous types of on-site greywater reuse systems also exist in Australia. There are also extensive policies and regulations with regards to these systems. Sustainable stormwater management is also prevalent in Portland and Chicago (USA), and as well as Sydney. Numerous sustainable drainage systems can be found in these three cities.

In South Africa, there are also projects that incorporate aspects of WSUD, such as the Atlantis aquifer recharge scheme, Hermanus water demand management programme, the Durban wastewater reclamation project, and the Century City stormwater management system. While these projects are notable, they lack the integration of all the WSUD components. There are numerous barriers that hamper this integration in South Africa, the most profound being the fragmented institutional structure and the socioeconomic issues prevalent throughout the country. Nevertheless, WSUD is possible, and the case studies show that WSUD can yield numerous benefits.

The benefits of WSUD need to be marketed to developers and institutions. This can be achieved by a set of WSUD guidelines or a WSUD pilot project. Thus, the next step for South Africa is to take the experiences from the case studies, and use them promote WSUD and aid developers in implementing integrated WSUD projects. The success of these projects will encourage WSUD in South Africa and speed up its adoption.