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Green, green grass – reducing water consumption in Melbourne

The Australian climate is renowned for periods of drought, that is why we are investing in innovation to adopt cleaner technologies and more sustainable agricultural practices. Those who have visited Melbourne will know that it’s city centre is filled with lush gardens and parklands, but what you might not know is that through our Melbourne Parks & Gardens contract, Serco’s water management team partners with the City of Melbourne and University of Melbourne to monitor, assess and manage water throughout the city and keep that grass green. 

Serco operates and maintains stormwater harvesting and irrigation systems, plumbing infrastructure, water features, pump seats and sports field lighting across open spaces in Melbourne’s CBD. 

Every year, in excess of 125 million litres of water are diverted from stormwater overflow, treated, and utilised for irrigation.
We analyse information about weather patterns and raw data generated from soil moisture probes to determine irrigation schedule and the amount of  water to release from the water harvesting system for irrigation of parks and gardens.
Fitzroy Gardens water collection and reuse sign

Following the years of drought from 2006 – 2009, we installed 2,000 wet wells to keep trees hydrated efficiently, working with designers from the University of Melbourne to create a solution that disperses enough water into the ground without high evaporation. 

Using the City of Melbourne’s irrigation prediction system, we track soil moisture levels and analyse the health of the plants through NDVI satellite technology, which helps early detection of poor soil moisture or where other irrigation programming may require adjustment.

Serco’s water specialists adjust the irrigation events to suit the conditions, determined from data analysis and further confirmed with the visual check of gardens. This is performed daily to ensure optimal use of water and maintenance of gardens. 

We worked closely with the City of Melbourne and the University of Melbourne to create global best practice for irrigation of Elm trees. There are many challenges in water delivery to trees in an urban environment, so we have utilised the skills and expertise of consultant and author Geoff Connellan to put into place effective solutions.

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