Sump gardens

The sump community garden is a great example of greening our city. The Green Swing team played a key role in creating the framework that made it all possible and continues to work on the re-vegetation of the site.

How the seed was planted

Before – sump @ 98 Rutland Ave

Late 2009/early 2010 we were looking at different sites to create our vision for a sustainable and community oriented townhouse development. One of the sites on the list was 96 Rutland Avenue. We had a meeting with Josh Byrne to discuss the various options. At the meeting Mark provided information that he and Alana had discovered the evening before that next door to this particular block was a sump. Josh’s eyes lit up and it was at that moment we all realised what a great opportunity this presented to contribute to greening our urban area. While for most people a drain site next door to their house is not very attractive, for us it became one of main reasons for making an offer on the neighbouring property.

The landscaping plan


Concept landscaping plan for sump @ 98 Rutland Avenue, Lathlain

We discussed with Josh the vision for the sump which he translated into a concept landscaping plan. This plan included the re-vegetation of the land with trees and shrubs, a path meandering around the big hole in the ground with a few benches to relax and enjoy, a space to grow food crops, a space for community gardening, a space for the local community to have access to and enjoy.

To view a copy of the landscaping plan, click here click here.

Getting permission

In February 2011 we submitted the concept landscaping plans together with a written proposal to the Town of Victoria Park at a meeting of the Community Environmental Advisory Committee (CEAC). The proposal covered things such as purpose, access, and lease arrangements. CEAC gave it’s in principle support for the proposal and asked the Council staff to look at the implementation of the proposal and prepare a report for the elected Councillors. You can imagine that there a number of things that need to be sorted out before the Town can make a final decision and the process takes time. In December 2011 a report was finally tabled at the Elected Councillors meeting recommending that Council endorse the proposal for a second community garden in the Town of Victoria Park. The great news is that the Councillors unanimously supported the recommendation and delegated authority to the Chief Executive Officer to execute the relevant lease documents.

Lease agreement and structure

We were told that it is difficult for Local Councils to enter into a lease arrangement with a private party. Their preference was to enter into an agreement with a community type organisation.

P4144548We had already discussed our plans for the sump with the Victoria Park Community Garden Association (VPCGA) and the Association was enthusiastic to provide support for the project. So when we asked whether they were prepared to enter into a lease agreement with the Town of Victoria Park in relation to the sump/community garden at 98 Rutland Avenue the committee unanimously agreed. This means that a lease arrangement will be between the Town of Victoria Park and the VPCGA. The Rutland sump is the first satellite garden for the VPCGA. It is a true win-win situation. The VPCGA has set up a sub committee which is responsible for the day to day management of the satellite garden. Members of the community members are encouraged to simply enjoy the space, or become involved and lend a hand.

The structure for the Rutland Sump garden can be used as a model for other sump gardens.

Drainage Management: hundreds of sumps…

Sumps take up a lot of valuable land in our urban area. Most are a hole in the ground, vegetation consists of grass/weeds which is mowed a couple of times a year and the whole thing is enclosed by an ugly looking fence. Imagine if these sites were reshaped and used as parkland, re-vegetated with trees and shrubs, or provided space on top of the banks for local food production.

The Water Corporation ‘manages about 2250 kilometres of rural main drains and 828 kilometres of drains in the metropolitan area. These drains divert water from over 400,000 hectares of land and 260,000 properties’. Local councils manage most of the smaller reticulation drains of Perth’s urban drainage network. This is usually achieved by piped drains below ground and open areas which transport stormwater to drainage “sumps” and other outlets. The sumps are fenced basins/holes in the ground, where the stormwater is collected which then soaked into the ground. According to the City of Stirling’s website, their stormwater drainage network consists of ‘720 km of piping, approximately 29,000 manholes and collector pits, and 180 drainage sumps and other drainage outlets’.

In the news

Examiner, June/July 2013