Creating Cool Places Using Water Sensitive Urban Design

Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) promotes the sustainable use of water in urban development and is guided by the following principles:

  • Make the most of the total water cycle in urban development and building - including rainwater, storm water, groundwater, mains water and waste water.

  • Use cities, towns and homes as water supply catchments by harvesting rainwater and storm-water, re-using grey-water and recycling wastewater rather than importing water from distant and ecologically vulnerable rivers and catchments.

  • Re-integrate water back into the urban landscape to cool our homes and streets by designing drainage systems that channel stormwater into vegetated swales, rain gardens and tree pits; or using permeable materials for roads that allow rainwater to infiltrate into the soil.

  • Use fit-for-purpose water e.g. rather than using drinking water (mains water) to flush toilets and irrigate; use rainwater, grey-water or recycled water.

  • Protect receiving waterways (rivers, streams and coasts) by using green technologies such as wetlands, raingardens and bio-filters to slow the flow of stormwater runoff and remove pollutants before it is released to streams and coastal waters.

In addition to the many liveability and environmental benefits of WSUD, it’s also one of the best ways to cool our cities by retaining trees, vegetation and water in the landscape. We work closely with developers to encourage them to consider WSUD principles in the design of new housing developments. We also incorporate WSUD when we upgrade our streets, parks and public spaces.

 To learn more, visit Water Sensitive SA,, of which we are a proud partner.


In 2017, a new rain garden was constructed by City of Mitcham at Harvey Hayes Reserve, (between Wilmott and Day Avenues, Daw Park). The rain garden receives stormwater from as far as Goodwood Road, soaking it into the reserve’s soil to reduce potential flooding downstream, while any overflow is filtered through the pond’s edges. Indigenous plants surrounding the pond will continue to grow and more species will be added in the future to improve biodiversity, colour and provide improved cover for birds. The project will also provide cooler temperatures in the reserve and reduce the need for irrigation making it more user friendly and climate ready during extreme hot days.

Check out more City of Mitcham cool projects






TREENET inlets 

By collecting and keeping rain where it falls and using it in the local environment, we are keeping our cities greener and cooler while reducing flooding and pollution downstream. In streets of high urban heat we have been introducing Treenet Inlets that collect stormwater when it rains and allow it to soaks into verges though a ‘leaky well’. This makes it accessible to trees and can soak into groundwater.

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City of Mitcham is monitoring stormwater flows in Hawthorn to measure the benefits of Treenet Inlets. Since 2016 the amount and quality of stormwater flowing from the catchment has been monitored. Further data will be collected to reveal the benefits of 180 inlets that have recently been installed.  As part of these trials PhD candidate, Hussain Shahzad, will be analysing the data and reporting on the effectiveness of Treenet Inlets in moderating stormwater flow and improving water quality.

Council acknowledges the support of the Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board, the University of South Australia’s School of Natural and Built Environments, the Goyder Institute for Water Research, the Department of Environment and Water, Water Sensitive SA
and the Environment Protection Authority of SA for this ongoing research into sustainable urban water management.

There’s more information on the City of Mitcham website.


City of Mitcham has installed permeable paving at Hillview Road (Netherby) and Kegworth Road (Melrose Park). The project has not only provided a cost- effective solution to localised flooding but has benefited nearby significant trees, increased groundwater recharge, improved water quality and will help to reduce road temperatures.

Check it out in action below!

Permeable paving in the making…


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Check out some Water Sensitive Urban Design in Action at Norman Reserve!