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Water Sensitive Urban Design Guidelines

Updated: Sep 10, 2020

Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) is an important part of integrated water. It is a kind of design that minimizes impacts from infrastructure on the natural in a way that reduces the burden on an asset. The main purpose of water sensitive urban design in Melbourne is to provide water cycle solutions for urban development.

Benefits of WSUD:

Reduced volume of storm water entering waterways.

Improved aquatic environment.

Integrated the storm water quality.

Boosting the opportunities for recycling.

Decreases the demand for water by alternative sources.

Improve the water quality in bays, lakes, and rivers.

Treat and reuse of wastewater.

Increasing the soil moisture.

Urban Greening.

Offers an alternative drinking water source.

Minimize the increase in storm water run-off & peak flows.

Generally, WSUD aims to integrate the complete system of water management. It allows the water system to function naturally and reduces the impact of development on the water cycle.

Types of WSUD:

When it comes to the types of water sensitive urban design, many kinds of designs are used to reduce the volume of storm water and pollution.

Few of types are considered below:

Rain gardens


Constructed wetlands

Porous pavement

Rainwater and storm water harvesting

Green infrastructure (roofs, facades, & pits)

Infiltration Trenches

Guidelines or Requirements of Water Sensitive Urban Design:

If you want to consider the treatment of storm water on the private land then the Melbourne planning scheme has some policies that you should consider:

The clause can only be applicable for:

New buildings

Extensions to existing buildings which are 50 square meters in floor area or greater.

A subdivision in a commercial zone


The development of the project meets the objectives and requirements of this policy.

The Water Sensitive Urban Design should be responsive.

Is the project application meets the best practice performance objectives and treatment measures?

Ongoing management is required to achieve and maintain the desired storm water.

The proposal will significantly add to the stormwater discharge or adversely affect.

Post-construction stormwater should remove 80% suspended solids.

Describing a range of tools that can reduce the sources of stormwater pollution.

Ensuring the land is capable of sustainable urban development.

Plan and design new infrastructure.

To improve environmental performance identifies the opportunity to upgrade the existing structure.

Water quality in water supply catchments is protected from possible contamination by urban, industrial, and agricultural land uses.

In addition to the usual requirements for planning applications, the following items should consider for water sensitive urban design assessment are:

Pre-application consultation between applicant and Council, to discuss proposed compliance with Council-specific WSUD requirements.

Submit the conceptual design of WSUD treatment with planning applications. This includes a report on WSUD design intent and confirming how compliance with Council-specific requirements will be achieved.

Submission of the detailed design of WSUD treatments for construction. It should be provided to submit prior to the project work or when the planning permit is issued.

How to use these Guidelines:

This document aims to provide greater consistency in council requirements for developments incorporating WSUD techniques across regional council boundaries. Hence the main document and appendices should remain consistent across the region, while the addendum contains the council-specific requirements.

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