Green stormwater control assets: a critical assessment of their management at three City councils within Greater Melbourne
AffiliationArchitecture, Building and Planning
Document TypeMasters Research thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2019 Andrés Felipe Aguirre Mujica
In the context of global warming, with more intense, and more frequent, weather extreme events, like bushfires, heat waves drought and floods, the pressure on governments to guarantee water provision is increasing. Expectations exist at a basic level of service (water supply, access, and security); and further, in developed economies, expectations exist on the protection of public health, social amenity and —in some instances— environmental values. Indeed, these higher needs linked to quality of human life have been identified in literature as the next step in the progression of urban water management. Green Stormwater Control Assets (GSCA) have potential to contribute to these goals. GSCA are assets in the public realm, managed by Local Government; they are connected to urban stormwater drains, and have a vegetated component, that together with filter media, reduce the speed and contaminant load of urban runoff. Despite these assets’ potential contribution to urban water management, they are often found to underperform (in terms of their physical components, and operation, both in the short, and the long terms). Current literature indicates underperformance is due to unsatisfactory management and lacking maintenance. This raised the question driving this thesis: How are Green Stormwater Control Assets being managed at three City Councils within Metropolitan Melbourne? To address this question, six established management frameworks were considered, adapted and applied. Thousands of management frameworks are commonly used across countries and sectors. A management framework refers to a guideline that, when used consistently, can ensure materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose. The use of management frameworks can foster higher transparency, environmental awareness and social welfare (Ibanez and Blackman, 2016). Six of such frameworks were selected for review, based on their relevance to GSCA management. The review identified ten key aspects specific to GSCA management. Together they form the “GSCA management framework” developed, which consisted of i) governance, leadership and commitment; ii) roles and responsibilities; iii) resources (financial and human); iv) operational control; v) competence, training, and education; vi) internal and external compliance and accountability; vii) audit, report, analysis and action; viii) documentation and records; ix) engagement (communication and consultation); and x) data and information systems. To investigate these key aspects in practice, a qualitative, exploratory and inductive research approach was employed. Three municipalities within Metropolitan Melbourne informed the research as case studies: The City of Melbourne, the City of Port Phillip, and Hume City Council. In total, thirteen stakeholders were interviewed to investigate the ten elements influencing GSCA management. A Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis System (NVivo) was used to support the analysis that uncovered underlying themes affecting GSCA management at the Municipalities studied. The contribution made to literature and practice enhancing GSCA management is twofold: 1) the GSCA management framework developed, that can prove beneficial for Councils managing GSCA or the like; and 2) the findings, implications, and recommendations specific to the municipalities under study. Notably, it was observed that whilst important efforts have been made by Victorian Local and State governments to develop the Metropolitan Melbourne water management system, attention is still required over the careful definition of an inclusive, coordinated, long‐term management strategy. It should include clear and specific accountabilities for parties involved, at an institutional, as well as government‐official levels. Similarly, to enhance GSCA’s sustained performance, it is necessary to invest on education, both of the general public and incumbent professionals, on key stormwater management matters, and environmental sustainability more broadly. Other findings relate to contractual agreements, and the procurement and use of financial resources.
Keywordsenvironmental/process auditing; performance measurement; continuous improvement; City of Melbourne; green Infrastructure; sustainability; resilience; liveability; consultation, education, communication and community engagement.; low carbon emissions; asset management; City of Port Phillip; City of Hume
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