Water Sensitive Urban Design

Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) is a set of design elements and on-ground solutions that aim to minimise impacts on the water cycle from the built urban environment. It offers a simplified and integrated approach to land and water planning by dealing with the urban water cycle in a decentralised manner consistent with natural hydrological and ecological processes.

WSUD includes:

  • Utilising water saving measures within and outside domestic, commercial, industrial and institutional premises to minimise requirements for drinking and non-drinking water supplies;
  • Storage, treatment and beneficial use of runoff (at building and street level, including stormwater);
  • Treatment and reuse of wastewater; and
  • Using vegetation for treatment purposes, water efficient landscaping and enhancing biodiversity and amenity.

Water Sensitive Urban Design often makes use of biofiltration systems such as wetlands & drainage swales to help clean stormwater before it is released into waterways or used for irrigation, and the City of Onkaparinga has also used a rain garden for this purpose.

Lifecycle Cost

Melbourne Water has published a WSUD Life cycle costing datasheet which gives indicative ongoing maintenance costs for a range of WSUD assets. As indicated below the cost of maintenance varies considerably depending on the type and size of the WSUD element.

Asset Type Annual Maintenance Cost as a % of Replacement Value
Wetlands 0.67% - 6.7%
Sediment Basins 3.3% - 8%
On-Street Raingardens 1.5% - 2%
Bioretention Basins 0.5% - 2%
Tree Pits 2% - 15%
Grass Swales & Buffer Strips 5% - 20%
Vegetated Swales & Bioretention Swales 3.3%
In-Ground GPTs 0.5% - 2%

Related Pages


The following people have indicated (via the Local Government Collaboration Topics Survey) that they have an interest and/or expertise in the topic of 'Water Sensitive Urban Design' and are willing to collaborate with their peers at other councils to identify challenges and resources relating to the topic and to look for ways to work together to overcome any challenges that are identified.


The following site members have contributed to this page:

External Links & References

  1. Queensland Urban Drainage Manual
  2. Planning in South Australia Water Sensitive Urban Design Page
  3. Construction and Establishment Guidelines: Swales, Bioretention Systems and Wetlands (Water by Design)
  4. Gold Coast Planning Scheme 2003 Policy 11 - Land Development Guidelines
  5. Water Sensitive Urban Design: Engineering Procedures for Stormwater Managment in Tasmainia
  6. Google Search
  7. Keep it Simple WSUD - Jack Mullaly (March 2017)
  8. Ideanthro That's Like WSUD Video Playlist
  9. Melbourne Water WSUD Maintenance Guidelines
  10. Wyndham City WSUD Asset Selection and Design Standards Guideline
  11. Melbourne Water sensitive urban design Life cycle costing data
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