Learning from Australia’s Drought: TreePeople Draws Lessons From Down Under

In 2012, TreePeople began an exchange between government, research and community organizations in Australia and Southern California. The aim of the program: to share innovations, best practices and experience in urban rainwater capture, water conservation practices and drought response—topics that are increasingly relevant as the climate of the American Southwest (and beyond) changes for the drier.

Why Australia?

Australia experienced several devastatingly dry episodes in the last 100 years. The most recent—called the “Millennium Drought”—started in 1997 and continued through 2010, and brought the country’s longest period of rainfall shortage on record. The Millennium Drought was so severe and long-lasting that it became the foremost national issue for most Australians. It created a profound need for solutions and produced a popular and political atmosphere supportive of deep investment and rapid innovation.

TreePeople’s intent is to help Southern Californians—from residents to policy leaders and everyone in between—to quickly develop and implement a sustainable approach to meet water needs in the face of our own looming long-term water crisis, learning from Australia’s response.

ozReptStudy Tour Report

TreePeople staff took two research trips to Australia in 2012. Our staff met with water management and planning entities in Australia’s five largest cities—Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

The resulting study tour report highlights what we learned—including both successes and challenges.

We encourage you to download the report and check back as we make more progress. Let us know what you think at naturalurbansystems@treepeople.org.


Funding for this project provided by The Boeing Company

By Edith de Guzman

Edith de Guzman, Director of Research, Natural Urban Systems Group, has been with TreePeople since 2003, where she manages research into best practices for the sustainable transformation of the Greater Los Angeles area. Exploring environmental, social and economic aspects of urban ecosystems, she works to collect and disseminate research that identifies the efficacy, benefits and applicability of various approaches to urban sustainability, with a special focus on watershed management. Edith received a master's in Urban Planning from UCLA and a bachelor's in History/Art History, also from UCLA.