Waterwise Unley

Water in Unley

The City of Unley is committed to reducing its dependency on River Murray water by using less and incorporating water sensitive urban design (WSUD) features to maintain parks, reserves and street trees. Rain gardens, Street Tree Inlets, and Permeable Paving  are important to conserve water and improve water quality by reducing stormwater pollution.

The City of Unley and Resilient East are working together with Water Sensitive SA and Green Adelaide to ensure our City is climate ready. Learn more about the different types of WSUD and find out how you can be water smart in your home on the Resilient East website

There are a range of waterwise actions you can take, such as using less mains water (i.e. taking shorter showers, fixing drips), installing a rainwater tank, selecting water wise plants, using wicking beds and adding mulch to your garden to reduce evaporation.

There has been excellent progress in recent years to waterproof our City, by providing recycled water options to most parks and reserves through the Glenelg to Adelaide Pipeline (GAP) and Managed Aquifer Recharge schemes (MAR).

Key City of Unley initiatives include:

  • Installing WSUD features (for example, designing our street to allow water to flow towards trees, adding street tree inlets to all new kerb, creating rain gardens and using permeable paving)

  • Continue the expansion of MAR and GAP networks and the use of recycled water

  • Reducing water use, planting water wise plants, capturing and reusing water 


Urban creeks

Before European settlement, the Kaurna people depended on the Willa willa—the winding creeks lined with Red Gum—for their food, shelter and water. 

Approximately 90% of our creeks now run through private property. Over time changes to the land have greatly altered the landscape which has made us prone to flooding and pollution. Many creeks have also been altered to control flooding.

There is a range of things that land owners can do to create habitats for local wildlife and improve water quality in local creeks.

Looking after waterways, a property owners guide(PDF, 5MB)

Learn more about local creeks

Patawalonga Catchment

The Patawalonga Creek was once connected to the Torrens River and Port River through the reed bed system bounded on the west by a wall of sand dunes and to the east wetlands.

The Patawalonga Catchment covers 235 square km and takes in parts of the City of Adelaide, the eastern, western and southern suburbs and a portion of the southern Adelaide Hills. There are six sub catchments or surface drainage systems; two in the City of Unley being Brown Hill Creek and Keswick Creek.

Brown Hill Creek Catchment

Brown Hill Creek drains an area approximately 36 square km. The creek rises near Stirling in steep country which, although not urbanised, has been largely cleared. The rural catchment contains Brown Hill Creek Recreation Park. Within the urban area, the catchment is defined by council drainage systems. In Unley, Brown Hill Creek has retained a natural flow path and has a number of linear parks along its banks and for significant lengths is in private property.

Keswick Creek Catchment

Keswick Creek drains approximately 31 square km and has two main tributaries, Glen Osmond and Parklands Creeks, both of which contain some rural catchment. The catchment of Glen Osmond Creek includes a significant part of the South Eastern Freeway while the Parklands Creek drains part of the southern section of the City of Adelaide.

In Unley, Glen Osmond and Parklands Creek are both highly engineered and in many reaches have been confined to concrete culverts for flood mitigation purposes.

Flood management 

Brown Hill, Keswick, Glen Osmond and Parklands Creeks are important drainage watercourses in metropolitan Adelaide. The creeks have a relatively high flood risk, a history of flood events and a low standard of flood protection. Their combined catchment is mainly contained within the local government areas of Adelaide, Burnside, Mitcham, Unley and West Torrens.

In February 2017, the State Government, five local councils and the Stormwater Management Authority (SMA) reached a historic agreement on a $140 million infrastructure project to safeguard against flooding in the Brown Hill and Keswick Creek catchment.

The flood mitigation works detailed in the Brown Hill and Keswick Creek Stormwater Management Plan will reduce the number of properties affected by a 1-in-100 year flood event by nearly 98 per cent. The infrastructure project will deliver about 73 full-time jobs during construction.

The plan will also yield more than $240 million in community benefit in terms of damage mitigation, reducing flood impacts on Adelaide Airport, minimising economic disruption, and improving stormwater quality across the catchment.

Learn more about the project here.