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Irrigation Audit Reveals $9 Mil Water Saving Across Canberra’s Parks & Playing Fields

A recent report prepared for the ACT Government’s Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate has shown that irrigation system improvements could generate water savings of up to two gigalitres per year, valued at $9 million.

The audit focused on the irrigation systems of parks, sports fields and open spaces across the ACT with the aim of improving sustainability by reducing the amount of water used. The project also investigated the potential to reduce the use of mains water by improving the use of recycled water sources.

A team of specialist Irrigation Engineers from HydroPlan surveyed the parks and sporting ovals to understand how irrigation systems were performing. As well as analysing a range of historical data, engineers ground-truthed systems by conducting live testing on more than 30 sites around the territory including City Hill – Canberra’s most central park.

By observing and measuring irrigation systems in use, HydroPlan’s irrigation engineers were able to identify inefficiencies and develop recommendations for improvements. These suggestions included infrastructure upgrades as well as changes to the way in which existing components are used. The use of flow and rain sensors – components already installed in the system – was recommended. These simple changes cost little to implement and offer additional savings by switching off irrigation applications when it rains.

Importantly, the audit also included an inspection of all turf surfaces to assess the type and quality of the ground cover. In addition to further assessing how well the watering system was working, turf inspections provided the engineers with an opportunity to determine other critical factors such as the grass type and soil characteristics, considerations which helped to refine the recommendations set out in the report.

While the report highlighted the system inefficiencies, it also showed how well the ACT Government’s teams have worked to maintain turf across the sites using old irrigation systems. Future upgrades will help to streamline the process of watering parks and ovals, freeing up time for staff to focus on other critical turf management tasks.

The audit was conducted over more than 130 sites across the ACT, spanning 376 hectares of irrigated land. HydroPlan’s report concluded that an upgrade of irrigation infrastructure would cost a total of $28 million, providing a return on investment in just three years.


Established in 1985, HydroPlan is Australia’s largest independent irrigation and water engineering consultancy, specialising in design, documentation and construction supervision.

Spanning industries including agriculture, mining, golf and recreation, horse racing, local government and water engineering, HydroPlan’s national team of engineers develop innovative, resource-efficient solutions for the future.

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For more information, visit the HydroPlan website.