Josh Byrne

How Urban Design Can Help Secure Perth’s Water Future.

Environmental scientist and ABC television presenter Josh Byrne will be explaining how urban design can help address Perth’s water challenges in a free public lecture at Murdoch University on Tuesday, 20 September.

The Murdoch Alumnus will be urging a rethink on how we source and supply water for our homes and landscapes at various scales, drawing on his PhD research with Murdoch and consultancy projects from around Australia.

Josh’s presentation is this year’s Sir Walter Murdoch Lecture, an annual event which sees a person of international or national standing invited to deliver a free talk on a topical issue.

“Perth is experiencing a rapidly drying climate yet we continue to be among the highest water users in the world,” said Josh, who won Murdoch’s Distinguished Alumni Award for Science and Engineering in 2014.

“Scheme water supplies are constrained and with around 40 per cent of residential supply being used in gardens, the risk of further restriction to prioritise drinking water is a real issue. Likewise groundwater for irrigation of green space is under pressure because of reduced rainfall and is unavailable in some development areas.”

In his talk, Josh will be discussing new approaches to water sensitive urban design at a precinct and district scale, and how new technologies and governance approaches are essential.

“We need to think more carefully about how we use water in our homes, buildings and suburbs so we can sustain the green spaces in private and public areas. These are what make Perth so livable,” he added.

“Among the solutions is the need for alternate water sources at various scales, such as community bores and sewer mining, to name some examples.”

As the Director of Fremantle-based consulting practice Josh Byrne and Associates, Josh has consulted to government and industry nationally in urban water and green space design and management. He’s also the winner of the Australian Water Association’s WA Water Professional of the Year Award.

Josh submitted his PhD thesis in July and it is currently under examination. The research looked at opportunities for sustaining residential landscapes with lot scale alternate water systems and involved designing, building and monitoring of three award winning case study gardens in the Fremantle area.

The gardens featured extensively on television through Josh’s role as a presenter on ABC Gardening Australia, and are documented in his two books.

“My talk will also be touching upon the technologies we utilised and integrated into these small scale properties. There have been some really great advancements in recent years,” said Josh. “I will also be discussing the importance of personal behavior to water management and Perth’s water use culture.”

Josh’s talk will be held in the Kim Beazley Lecture Theatre at Murdoch’s Perth Campus from 6pm to 8pm. To attend, please RSVP by Friday, 16 September to rsvp@murdoch.edu.au.