National Botanic Gardens non potable water project 2011
From cracked desert soils to rainforest canopies thick with humidity Australia’s climate is one of extremes.
And, across the continent, native vegetation has adapted to withstand an incredible diversity of rainfall patterns.
Here, at the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra, you can find one third of all known Australian plant species.
And watering each one, consistent with natural conditions, is an exact science.
The plants in some of the arid areas can go for extended periods without any irrigation. In fact, there are some areas we have completely unirrigated. The rainforest gully is a different story. Many visitors will be aware of the particular moist, cool environment we have in order for that particular community to grow successfully here in Canberra.
To satisfy the diverse watering requirements, each year the gardens need about the same amount of water used on an average summers day across the city of Canberra.
And now, thanks to a new Australian Government project, that water will be piped from Lake Burley Griffin, an artificial lake in the centre of Canberra.
We have a pump house that is located on the edge of Lake Burley Griffin and we have an inlet pipe that goes out into the lake about 150 metres. It’s then pumped all the way from Lake Burley Griffin up to the gardens, approximately four or 500 metres.
Previously, potable water was taken from Canberra’s water supply.
This project will free up about 170 megalitres of that valuable drinking water every year.
It will also allow regular irrigation even in times of tough water restrictions, securing a reliable, long-term water supply for the world’s largest collection of Australian plants.
There was no doubt about the fact that we needed to secure a permanent water source for our collection, and basically what this means is if we ever go through another drought, like the one we’ve had in recent times, we will always have a secure water source.
Before the lake water reaches the gardens it will be filtered to ensure the safety of staff and visitors who may come into contact with the water.
The $2.9 million project is jointly funded through the Australian Government’s Water for the Future initiative and the Director of National Parks.