Project Round
Project Number
Research Organisation
G & M Connellan

Optimising Open Space Management – Best Practice Guidelines

The Best Practice Guidelines is a toolkit designed to assist managers and administrators with the management of functional green open spaces. The guidelines identify the key factors for effective functioning of functional open space and provide the knowledge and tools needed to achieve required performance.

The Challenge

Irrigation of functional green open spaces accounts for more than half of the water used by local councils and elite sports venues. These spaces provide significant environmental, social and economic benefits to industry and community. Balancing the cost pressures of water and other resources with the often competing needs of users is critical in realising these benefits.

Functional green open space struggled for survival during the Millennium Drought of 1995 to 2012. Water restrictions aggravated already poor management practices. Post drought focus has shifted from water conservation to water efficiency through improved management practice. However, most watering is still conducted by ad hoc controls or general rule of thumb approaches.

Improved management practice can ensure water and other resources are used effectively and efficiently. This would lead to significant cost reductions for local council and venue administrators. In addition it would maximise the social and environmental value and benefits of functional green open spaces.

The Project

The guidelines demonstrate best practice principles to achieve required performance of functional green open space through optimum utilisation of resources, including labour costs and water. Knowledge and tools provided in the guidelines include water efficient irrigation technologies and their applications, site maintenance methods, and evaluation techniques to measure site performance.

The Optimising Functional Open Space project was conducted in two phases.

Phase 1 consisted of a review of previous projects and reports in the field of turf, irrigation and open space management. This included a review of Smart Water Fund and wider academic literature, identification of water technologies, and consultation with industry experts. Following this a draft report and white paper on current practices and identified gaps in the wider industry was prepared for consultation and review.

Phase 2 was the development of the Best Practice Guidelines for Functional Open Space. This process was guided by an industry working group made up of representatives from the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne and Olympic Park Trust, Sports Turf Association, Irrigation Australia, local councils, water industry and Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. This working group guided the development of the guidelines with input from industry stakeholders including irrigation technology providers, irrigation designers, turf experts and sporting bodies. A key component of the guidelines is the inclusion of the business case for change.

Following release of the Best Practice Guidelines the working group is attempting to identify irrigated turf and landscape sites to implement and demonstrate best practice.

The Outcomes

The Best Practice Guidelines is targeted at managers and administrators of functional green open space as well as water utilities. Direct benefits will include cost reduction from water savings and more efficient application of other resources. Maintaining functional open spaces in a more effective manner also has the potential for significant indirect environmental, social and economic benefits. These include improved community health and social outcomes associated with greater access and use, improved stormwater quality and volume, and the potential to enable further investment in functional green open space.

City West Water will encourage and partner with local councils and recreational managers to promote adoption of the guidelines and drive efficiency opportunities across the sector.