City of Whitehorse nursery leads the way in water saving initiatives

Victoria’s City of Whitehorse’s ParksWide Nursery, has received national recognition for a number of innovative water saving initiatives that aim to achieve a 65 per cent reduction in water usage over 12 months. As one of the largest Council owned nurseries in Victoria, it recently won a prestigious SavewaterTM award in the garden management category for upgrading its irrigation system and installing a water harvesting and recycling system.

The new system collects all water from irrigation run off and stormwater drains on the nursery site in three large tanks with a 39,000 litre holding capacity. Water is then filtered through three stages to remove impurities so that it can be safely used for irrigation.

Whitehorse Chief Executive Officer, Noelene Duff, said these two water saving measures alone resulted in a 45 per cent water reduction between March and September this year, equating to four megalitres or four Olympic sized swimming pools of water.

“With these outstanding results in such a short period, we are confident that we are on track to achieve our target of a 65 per cent reduction in water usage between March 2005 and March 2006,” she said. “Nursery staff are continually looking for new ways they can be ecologically sustainable and their results to date are outstanding.”

The nursery is the only Victorian Council owned nursery accredited by the Nursery Industry Accreditation Scheme Association. In May 2005, it was also named as a finalist in the Keep Australia Beautiful Victoria Sustainable Cities Environment Innovation Award. Council’s ParksWide nursery employs three full time staff.

Noelene Duff said each year more than 100,000 native and other plants are grown at the nursery for use in Council’s parks, gardens and bushland reserves. More than 70 per cent of these were indigenous to Whitehorse. Almost 2,000 plants grown at the Nursery each year are also donated to schools and community groups to ensure suitable vegetation is planted throughout the City. All materials used at the Nursery are recyclable or sustainable and all pots are recycled as well. An integrated pest management system also ensures that no insecticides are used in the production of plants.

“Even the trolleys used to move plants within the nursery are powered by electricity, not petrol, meaning we’re more efficient, quieter and use fewer resources,” said Noelene Duff.

Noelene Duff is confident the nursery will continue to produce plants in an environmentally, economically and socially sustainable way to ensure Whitehorse’s parks, gardens and reserves are of the highest standard.