Case study: Stormwater harvesting, Australia

Description of the application

With the use of water approaching, and in some cases exceeding, the limits of sustainability in many locations, there is an increasing recognition of the need to utilise stormwater for non-potable requirements, thus reducing the demand on potable sources. The paper conducted presents a review of Australian stormwater treatment and recycling practices as well as a discussion of key lessons and identified knowledge gaps.

Lessons learned

The review of existing stormwater recycling systems focussed primarily on the recycling of general urban runoff (runoff generated from all urban surfaces) for non-potable purposes. Regulations and guidelines specific to stormwater recycling need to be developed to facilitate effective design of such systems, and to minimise risks of failure. There is a clear need for the development of innovative techniques for the collection, treatment and storage of stormwater. Existing stormwater recycling practice is far ahead of research, in that there are no technologies designed specifically for stormwater recycling. Instead, technologies designed for general stormwater pollution control are frequently utilised, which do not guarantee the necessary reliability of treatment. Performance modelling for evaluation purposes also needs further research, so that industry can objectively assess alternative approaches. Just as many aspects of these issues may have impeded adoption of stormwater, another impediment to adoption has been the lack of a practical and widely accepted method for assessing the many financial, social and ecological costs and benefits of stormwater recycling projects against traditional alternatives. Such triple-bottom-line assessment methodologies need to be trialled on stormwater recycling projects. If the costs and benefits of recycling systems can be shown to compare favourably with the costs and benefits of conventional practices this will provide an incentive to overcome other obstacles to widespread adoption of stormwater recycling.

Implementation cost

Estimated financial cost for the implementation of the measures, given as a cost range.

Flood management measure

Which flood management measures have been applied? Multiple measures may be specified.


Projects from which information has been harvested. Multiple projects may be specified.


Country in which the application (case study) is located. In case of a transboundary application multiple countries are specified.

Responsible authority level

Level of Responsible Authority.

Last modified: Sept. 13, 2016, 5:01 a.m.