Collaboration delivering world’s best practice sustainable urban water management

Photo credit: NASA

A new strategic plan is being developed to ensure that runoff from urban areas is managed according to world’s best practice to protect water quality in the Great Barrier Reef.

The plan is being driven by an active collaboration, which has been tackling the issues associated with urban water runoff in the region for over 11 years.

Established in 2009 the Reef Urban Stormwater Management Group (RUSMG) is a network of local, state and federal government stakeholders including local government members, Great Barrier Reef Council representatives, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) and the Department of Environment and Science (DES).

RUSMG was developed through the Water by Design program, a key initiative of Healthy Land and Water. RUSMG members provide strategic direction to Water by Design to collaboratively support regional communities to green their urban areas, improve social and visual amenity of open spaces and deliver improved water quality entering the reef.

The group is committed to supporting the uptake of sustainable urban water management practices to help reduce the impact that runoff from urban areas has on water quality in the Great Barrier Reef.

Together Water by Design and RUSMG have developed a vision to provide world’s best practice sustainable urban water management to maintain the global values of the Great Barrier Reef.

RUSMG’s 5 core values to protect the Reef

RUSMG”s 5 core values to protect the Reef

In a strategic planning workshop undertaken by over 12 representative organisations from across the Reef, members shared their thoughts and expertise and collectively developed the following five core underpinning values for the group:

  • Provide leadership and support to our members and our community of practice to achieve sustainable urban water management best practice across the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Impart expertise: Willingly share the diversity of our expert advice and local knowledge to develop collaborative solutions that drive best practice outcomes.
  • Enable partnerships and collaboration that strengthens relationships between stakeholders.
  • Apply science into action: Actively seek to translate science into practice by providing opportunities to deliver on the ground pilot projects and case studies within the Reef regions.
  • Support Indigenous integration: Pursue the integration and representation of Traditional Owner and First Peoples’ values and views with regard to urban water management.


The Water by Design Program in the GBR

Water by Design is working with local, state and federal government stakeholders to deliver the Queensland Reef Water Quality program in North Queensland.

The program aims to develop best practice solutions to mitigate or stop the impact of sediment, nutrients and other urban pollutants entering waterways and impacting the health of the Great Barrier Reef’s coral and seagrass ecosystems.


Learn more about Water Sensitive Urban Design in North Queensland on the Water by Design website:


The Urban Stormwater and Erosion and Sediment Control Capacity Building Program is funded through the Queensland Government’s Reef Water Quality Program.

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