Individual gardens may hold solution to health of stream ecosystems

Published:04 June 2019

CQUni PhD researcher David Buck pictured (left) at the OzWater Conference and (right) on the job as a plumber.

With our houses so tightly packed together, it’s often hard to retrofit street-scale or estate-scale solutions to ensure enough rainwater finds its way to replenish local streams and maintain their ecosystems.

However, there may be allotment-scale solutions to ensure ecological flows continue, even in drought conditions.

That’s according to CQUniversity PhD researcher David Buck, who has balanced his academic findings alongside 35 years of experience as a plumber.

Mr Buck’s insights have been so well received that his paper to the recent OZWater’19 conference in Melbourne featured in the ‘Top 10 Must See’ list, chosen from around 1400 submitted abstracts.

“Urbanisation has altered streamflow and severely degraded our natural aquatic ecosystems,” Mr Buck says.

“When inadequate streams run out, reliant biota can perish or be forced to become transient.”

Mr Buck has reviewed empirical studies of water sensitive urban design (WSUD) projects which report improvements to baseflow.

His review focuses on better urban baseflow through WSUD systems, including rainwater harvesting.

“Rainwater tanks are being recognised for their potential to supplement baseflow, during dry periods, when their overflow release mechanisms redirect stormwater to a permeable surface, allowing drainage through soil substrate rather than to a drainage system for disposal,” Mr Buck says.

“A minimal 10 per cent reduction in household water supply might facilitate significant improvements for the environment.

“The significance here is the potential to easily adapt in-situ rainwater tanks to create environmental betterment with little interruption to the water supplied to the household.”

Mr Buck, who currently lives and works on the Gold Coast, submitted his paper with CQUniversity co-authors Dr Ben Taylor, Dr Larelle Fabbro and Dr Susan Rockloff.