World-leading floating wetland for Bli Bli development
  • Thursday 26 November 2015

Sunshine Coast Council is part of a world-leading, pioneering environmental initiative will see the installation of a "floating wetland treatment system" (FWTS) within the five hectare lake system at Parklakes 2 residential development at Bli Bli in order to manage the estate’s stormwater runoff.

The innovative project is a result of a strong commitment to improving local waterways and collaborative research involving the developers of Parklakes 2 as well as leading local engineering consultancy Covey Associates, the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) and council.

Covey’s Environmental Manager Dr Christopher Walker said the $1 million floating wetlands will be installed within a 2.5 hectare lake, one of three in the estate, by the developers of Parklakes 2 and will be the subject of a three-year research study undertaken by a University of the Sunshine Coast PhD candidate.

Mayor Mark Jamieson was part of the official launch of the first two of 250 floating wetlands "pods" yesterday.

“Under the joint research program, USC’s PhD student will work with all stakeholders to investigate, monitor and evaluate the performance of the overall FWTS over a three year period, with an additional year of monitoring to verify results,” Dr Walker said.

Dr Walker said while traditional constructed wetland systems have been an integral part of residential estates to treat stormwater for many years, the FWTS enabled stormwater treatment to begin very early in the estate’s development.

“With constructed wetlands, you typically have to wait until 60-80% of the development is complete before they can even start to be constructed. This is because sediment from ongoing construction works can impact the health of wetland plants, even with upstream site management,” he said.

“The floating wetlands sit on top of the water so this isn’t an issue and the roots actually help to filter out sediment from runoff.

"Another important aspect is that as the floating wetlands need to be installed on open water, it gives residents an aesthetic benefit and the area surrounding the wetlands is better utilised for parks, playgrounds and passive open space.

“Previously the system has been retro-fitted at a small scale into existing estates and other projects but we believe this is the largest system that has been incorporated into a greenfield site with a research project attached to it.

“The new FWTS approach has huge potential and we have been working with USC over the past five years to optimise the system and to develop a strong research partnership that ensures research results are independently verified."

Mayor Jamieson said the project presented a unique opportunity for local industry to be part of a collaborative effort in working towards common objectives of making the Sunshine Coast Australia’s most sustainable region.

“The ability to undertake research on one of the world’s largest greenfield floating wetland projects is really exciting for our region," Mayor Jamieson said.

"It puts the Sunshine Coast front and centre in terms of leading edge sustainable projects which could revolutionise the way residential stormwater is treated globally."

Dr Terry Lucke, who leads USC’s Stormwater Research Group in the School of Science and Engineering, said the floating wetland project was a unique opportunity for the University to collaborate on an innovative, cutting edge research project that will generate significant international interest.

“One of the important aspects of the research study is that the investigation will be undertaken on a full-scale FWTS field installation rather than just using laboratory-based experiments. These results will be more appropriate and better aligned to the requirements of regulatory authorities on the eastern seaboard of Australia and elsewhere,” Dr Lucke said.