The Little Stringybark Creek is a small stream in the Dandenong Ranges, about 40 km east of Melbourne’s CBD. Located near grazing land, suburban residential communities and commercial industrial land, over time the creek’s health has suffered. This is due in part to pollutants from urban stormwater flowing through the catchment.
Since 2008, Melbourne Water and the University of Melbourne have been conducting a wide-ranging stormwater control experiment aimed at restoring the hydrology, water quality and ecological function of Little Stringybark Creek. This world-first attempt at catchmentscale water-sensitive urban design (WSUD) aims to restore the ecological health of the waterway.
Researchers worked with Yarra Valley Water, local council, government authorities and the catchment community (residents and property owners) to fund and implement a variety of stormwater control measures (SCM) such as rainwater tanks and raingardens. These were installed across private and public land in the suburb of Mount Evelyn, located in the upper part of the Little Stringybark Creek catchment.
Nearly one third of properties in the catchment took part in the experiment, installing various SCMs to treat and use stormwater runoff from their land. Council also installed 88 stormwater treatment systems on public land, including 15 large precinct raingardens, and 62 streetscape raingardens and underground infiltration systems.
Together, these public and private stormwater control measures have saved around 35-50 ML/year of potable water and returned about 45-60 ML of stormwater into the ground, helping to recharge natural groundwater and stream baseflows. Researchers found that both water quality and the hydrological regime of the Little Stringybark Creek have improved, bringing the water cycle closer to its near natural state.