Developing a green infrastructure policy for the Auckland Council stormwater unit: In the first of a new series of technical briefings we highlight a paper presented at the recent 2016 Water New Zealand Stormwater Conference in Nelson.
Authors: Ian Mayhew (4Sight Consulting); Wolfgang Kanz & Claudia Hellberg (both Auckland Council Stormwater Unit; and Nicki Green (formerly 4Sight Consulting now with Bay of Plenty Regional Council).
Water sensitive design approaches, including the use of green infrastructure (GI), are increasingly accepted as best practice for land and infrastructure development in many circumstances because they support the protection and enhancement of freshwater and coastal water quality, can provide ecosystem, community and cultural benefits, may reduce risks, and may be more resilient and cost effective than traditional built infrastructure.
While the use of GI, including natural assets, generally offers a wider range of benefits when compared to traditional built infrastructure, there are also circumstances where its use may not be appropriate due to case-specific constraints or where whole of life costs and operational implications are too high compared to the benefits.
Guidance is required to direct the stormwater unit’s (SWU) operational activities in encouraging and providing for GI where appropriate, in order to achieve clear, equitable, cost effective and regionally consistent stormwater management.
To address this, the SWU commissioned the development of a green infrastructure policy (GI policy or policy) to provide operational guidance on the use and management of GI.
The purpose of the policy is to:
• Direct the SWU’s approach to use and management of GI in undertaking its functions;
• Encourage the use of GI for stormwater management in public and private development where stormwater infrastructure is to be vested in / managed by council; and
• Guide SWU involvement in wider council planning and management programmes for GI.
The policy establishes overarching objectives and policies in respect of the use and management of GI and provides more specific guidance as to the circumstances where GI will be utilised or encouraged in preference to traditional stormwater management approaches.
This paper outlines the development and approach of the policy and provides an insight into implementation of it.
Craig McIlroy, general manager stormwater, Auckland Council says council’s stormwater unit is fully committed to the Auckland Plan vision to become ‘the world’s most liveable city’. The appropriate management of stormwater and freshwater is integral to a liveable city and ensuring council’s statutory obligations and objectives are met.
“To be a liveable city we need to achieve a ‘water sensitive community’. This concept is a shift in the focus of stormwater management from removing or disposing of stormwater as fast as possible via built infrastructure to recognising the value of stormwater, its close interrelationship with natural freshwater systems, and how it can enhance the liveability of our cities.
“The stormwater unit’s green infrastructure policy is an important step towards a water sensitive community. It demonstrates the unit’s commitment to consider the use of green infrastructure for projects in a meaningful way and to implement and manage green infrastructure solutions in preference to more traditional infrastructure where it is feasible and cost effective to do so.
“This is in recognition of the wider community and ecosystem benefits, and the potential for greater resilience, that is provided by more natural stormwater management infrastructure and systems.”
About the presenters:
Ian Mayhew, 4Sight Consulting
Ian has spent 25 years in local government and consultancy roles and has extensive experience in water resource management, stormwater and contaminant discharges, policy and plan development and consent acquisition. Ian utilises his science background and resource management experience to integrate complex technical information into consent and policy projects.
Wolfgang Kanz, Auckland Council
Wolfgang graduated with a Masters in Applied Environmental Science, and has 15 years’ experience in the public and private sector. His training and experience is in natural resource management, in particular anthropogenic impacts on the natural environment. Wolfgang is responsible for development of tools, models and policies to benefit stormwater management, applying a strategic lens to stormwater management, and providing specialist ecological advice within the Auckland Council.