Raingardens are technically designed gardens that filter and manage the flow of local rainwater, to avoid flooding and enable growth of plants and healthy habitats for animals. The winning pilot in this year’s Innovation Challenge investigates how we can use hard waste in raingardens at Fishermans Bend, a low-lying area particularly prone to flooding.

Remix Raingardens seeks to enable climate resilience through implementing a sustainable and cost-effective drainage design. Using layers of locally generated waste materials, such as concrete, organic matter, wood, glass and more, the gardens will close the loop on local waste while contributing to the unique character of Fishermans Bend. Drought-resistant plants will help us understand if the gardens can filter water as well as sustain healthy plant life.

Sensors will be used to capture data for a variety of different designs with different waste products to understand the viability of the idea and to understand the impact of the raingardens on water management, micro-climate, soil and plant health, and the local community.

Through demonstrating positive impacts and educating the community through transparency, these raingardens will inspire more circular economy innovation.

In partnership with the Victorian Government, Fishermans Bend, Development Victoria and University of Melbourne Opportunity Lab this pilot will be implemented in Fishermans Bend.

This concept was pitched by Amira Moshinsky, the winning proposal of the Fishermans Bend Innovation Challenge.

To follow the testing process and see behind-the-scenes footage, follow the pilot on Instagram. Or, click the Follow button above to get updates for each stage of the pilot.

What we are trying to understand

The objective of this pilot is to help us understand:

  • If recycled material raingardens can perform as successfully as conventional raingardens.
  • How well plants grow in raingardens made from recycled waste materials.
  • The most effective design strategies for layering local waste in raingardens.
  • How useful locally produced hard waste is for filtering water.
  • Which waste materials can be repurposed into raingardens.
  • How much waste can be diverted from landfill to local raingardens.
  • If we can educate the public about water management and circular economies through well-designed raingardens incorporating sensors.

News

Timeline

  • Timeline item 1 - complete

    Selection as the winner of the Fishermans Bend Innovation Challenge, pilot stream

    August 2022

  • Timeline item 2 - complete

    Pilot kick-off

    September 2022

  • Timeline item 3 - complete

    Stage one: Research and planning

    September 2022

  • Timeline item 4 - active

    Stage two: Nursery testing

    October 2022

  • Timeline item 5 - incomplete

    Stage three: Design development

    from November 2022

  • Timeline item 6 - incomplete

    Stage four: Pilot installation

  • Timeline item 7 - incomplete

    Stage five: Measuring and community input

  • Timeline item 8 - incomplete

    Stage six: Reflection and analysis

The pilot process

This pilot will include several stages to understand the usefulness of locally generated waste options in a raingarden design. Throughout these stages, we will share learnings and provide opportunities for the community to get involved and contribute feedback.

Before we commence testing of the waste materials, the pilot team undertook the following activities:

  • desktop research
  • literature reviews
  • professional consultations
  • planning project stages, deliverables and investment of funding.

This process was completed in September 2022. Some research and planning will continue throughout the pilot as required.

What we learned

As a result of this process, we discovered projects experimenting with a bioretention system that is partially made from recycled materials (a bioretention system is one that filters pollutants and nutrients, like a raingarden). We didn't find any projects using only recycled materials as a filtration system from only local sources. In this stage we also identified key success criteria to apply to Remix Raingardens to see how these raingardens perform against a typical raingarden.

After planning and research, the pilot team will conduct a series of tests in a nursery environment to compare the effectiveness of different waste materials for water filtration, infiltration and plant growth.

A total of 20 small-scale tests will use recovered waste materials like crushed glass, street sweepings, aggregated concrete, crushed brick, timber, food and other organic waste in layered configurations. Water will be poured over these small tests and the flow, amount and quality of the water that comes through the garden will be measured.

Baseline tests using conventional raingarden materials like gravel, sand and soil will enable the project team to make comparisons and understand the viability of different waste material compositions.

Key findings will be shared here and will inform the following stages.

Once thorough testing has determined which waste products are most useful in a raingarden design s, a pilot design will be developed and trialed in Fishermans Bend over an extended period.

During this stage, the site for the pilot will be selected in collaboration with planners and experts, to enable both valuable testing and community collaboration.

A prototype will be made in the Parkville nursery during this stage, to ensure the design is resilient to withstand testing at Fishermans Bend.

This stage will also include planning how we will use technology to capture data about the pilot. This might include pedestrian sensors to measure community engagement, micro-climate sensors to measure temperature and humidity around the gardens, soil moisture and acidity, water flow rates and more.

Finally, development of the design will include signing and communication tools to share the pilot with the community and gather input.

The Fishermans Bend installation will consist of a series of raingardens. Over a period of several months, sensors will capture a variety of data so we can understand the viability of using waste materials in raingardens.

Signage will describe the pilot and enable community input.

The length of this stage will depend on the performance of the raingardens. We will measure the gardens through collecting sensor data and undertaking observational analysis to understand the viability of raingardens that incorporate recycled materials.

During this stage, there will be opportunities for the community to learn about the pilot and share thoughts and feedback. A dashboard will be published and made accessible to the community to share data and insights.

The final pilot stage will involve analysing all collected data to understand the viability of this concept.

This stage may also include developing a design guide for how to use recycled materials in raingardens that successfully filter and manage rainwater while enabling resilient plant life.

What’s next

We will share learnings from Stage two: Nursery tests soon and then commence Stage three: Design development.

How to get involved

Follow this pilot at the button above to get updates for each stage of the pilot and hear about community engagement opportunities.

To follow the testing process and see behind-the-scenes footage, follow the pilot on Instagram.

Partners

The technology

We are currently developing the technology and data platforms we will use for this pilot. Subscribe for updates to get the latest information when it becomes available.

Partners

Emerging Technology Testbed