ATA member profile: We heart Tankulator


From studying environmental science, to working in the urban stormwater sector, to installing an intensive green roof on top of her home, ATA member Claire Hanley talks to Sarah Coles about community engagement with water.

Claire Hanley is an environmental scientist working with Marrickville Council in the urban stormwater sector. She works with the Waterevolution team and manages small infrastructure projects and the urban water education program, which includes workshops on water-sensitive urban design and rainwater harvesting. The three-part water-sensitive design series has a hands-on component: “In part three we go to someone’s house and build a stormwater treatment device. It’s usually a rain garden, but we’ve done wetlands and greywater systems as well.”

A few years ago Marrickville Council ran water workshops in five languages (Arabic, Vietnamese, Portuguese, Mandarin and Greek) at the library with the Ethnic Communities Council. Claire makes an interesting point: “Often people from non-English-speaking backgrounds come from countries where water hasn’t been readily available and has been considered a real resource. They’re really aware of water issues because they lived with not having water on tap.”

Marrickville Council are soon to launch a program aimed at helping residents to stencil the slogan ‘We are all Cooks River People— water in drain flows to the Cooks River’ on top of the drains, to alert people to where their stormwater goes.

The council is known for its rain gardens, and one suspects Claire has a lot to do with this. The Scouller Street rain garden was completed with the Cooks River Alliance in 2015, and it has transformed the dangerous, hot and polluted intersection. The council worked with the community to design rain gardens on either side of the road with a sharper turning angle to slow down traffic.

They had a community planting day last year: “We had over 50 locals turn up on a Saturday morning to plant out the gardens.” A University of Western Sydney microbiologist has been doing research into pollution reduction at the site and the test results are encouraging.

Claire and her husband have also completed an eco renovation of their 1920s semi-detached house. “The rear of the house had a tin roof,” says Claire, “and was boiling hot in summer and freezing cold in winter.  So we demolished the back of the house and rebuilt with a green roof on top.” The green roof keeps the house cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Additional benefits include reductions in both impervious surfaces and the urban heat island effect.

They needed extensive engineering assistance to design/install the green roof, as it weighs so much; council regulations required engineering diagrams. It has a deep soil profile of about 350 mm and includes a drainage system. The roof was lined with a waterproof liner and the soil pumped from a truck onto the roof.

The result is a 45 m2 intensive green roof, planted with natives which have proved effective in providing habitat. A student at Macquarie University conducted a biodiversity study using Claire’s green roof, favourably comparing the amount of invertebrate activity on green versus conventional roofs. Claire adds, “Our neighbours like it because their verandahs overlook our roof. We’re making their day better!”

Claire became an ATA member because of a love of Tankulator, the ATA’s online rain harvesting calculator. She says, “We always recommend Tankulator to people in our council rainwater workshops. “And it is great getting ReNew magazine,” she adds.

This member profile is published in ReNew 135. Buy your copy here.

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