Water sensitive urban design (WSUD)

Our climate is changing and so are rainfall patterns. We expect less annual rainfall, more droughts, and an increased number and intensity of intense rainfall events. 

We're using a range of water smart techniques to reduce the amount of stormwater being channelled out to sea and instead integrating natural water cycles into our suburbs.  This allows us to improve the health of our waterways, increase trees and green spaces, better manage risks and decrease costs.  Find out more about our smart water solutions in the videos below.

Why are we protecting waterways?

Protecting waterways within our cities towns and suburbs makes sure that they can remain valuable community assets. They also add to the vibrancy of the area and support the ecosystems that rely on them.

Creeks and rivers provide natural passageways to expand the range and chances of survival of native animals including fish, frogs, lizards and birds.  Find out more about our work protecting waterways



What are the benefits?

Water sensitive urban design (WSUD) has multiple benefits and can enhance overall liveability of our communities. 

As well as considering WSUD on new projects, we also work with developers to ensure WSUD is considered in the design of new housing developments.

 Smart water solutions include:

  • grassed and landscaped swales
  • infiltration trenches and bio-retention systems
  • gross pollutant traps, wetlands and sediment ponds
  • rainwater tanks – stormwater harvesting and reuse
  • grey water harvesting and reuse
  • rain gardens, porous pavements and aquifer recharge and reuse.

Find out more about the importance of WSUD measures by watching the video's at the bottom of this webpage or visiting Water Sensitive SA


Project example - Morton Road, Christie Downs

Along Morton Road in Christie Downs you’ll see lovely new footpaths and trees, but underground there’s more than meets the eye.


Christie Downs has relatively low tree cover at 10.5% while the Adelaide average is 27%. Around 100 native and ornamental trees have now been planted.

Like many suburbs, this area can be a real hot spot in summer with lots of hard surfaces that act like a heat bank at night.

By planting trees and other vegetation in a supportive environment that encourages them to thrive we improved the appeal of the area. But most importantly making it makes the area greener and cooler in summer.


On the west side of the road, next to the high school, the paving might look standard but it is actually full of tiny holes. This allows the rain to filter through, rather than run off into the stormwater drain and out to sea.

You’ll also see a series of silver plates in the kerb by the school. These are tree inlets that capture water running down the street into a holding area, where it slowly filters out to water the street trees.

The large vegetation strip on the eastern side of the road captures stormwater. Which allows it to seep back into the soil after it has been filtered by a series of biofiltration beds. This passive irrigation is being supplemented by recycled water until the vegetation establishes.

In time, the street will be:

  • a much more welcoming place to walk
  • have a great cover of shade
  • reducing the unfiltered stormwater that is going out to sea.


Smart water solutions for your home and backyard

There are a range of smart water solutions that you can undertake in your own yard.  Here are some links to some awesome resources to inspire you and get you started.