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Irrigated public open spaces
Irrigation consumes more water in Darwin than in many other cities in Australia. Darwin is the only Australian capital city not to have been subjected to water restrictions, and people in Darwin use around 2.1 times more water than other Australians (454 kL per property per annum; Australian average, 213 kL per property per annum (PWC, 2013)).
Inefficient irrigation wastes water and energy. Over-irrigation of invasive, non-native grasses - species not ideally suited to northern Australia in the first place - causes demand amounting to approximately 70% of the average domestic water consumption. Permeable, nutrient-poor soils, suffer increased leaching of nutrients as a result of over-irrigation. Propagules and seeds are conveyed to drains and watercourses by over-irrigation, where they out-compete native species and adversely impact local ecosystems in swales, creeks, and coastal estuaries. Over-irrigation drives increased mowing frequencies, giving rise to municipal solid waste in the form of excessive amounts of grass clippings. Added chemical fertilisers drive growth, necessitating more frequent mowing, and causing leaching of excess nitrate load to drains and receiving waters. Increased mowing leads to increased soil erosion, exacerbating the nutrient loss and necessitating further irrigation and fertilisation in a vicious circle designed to keep the grass aesthetically appealing, regardless of the actual harm to the environment.
Lawn irrigation trials were used to examine the effects
of frequency and duration of watering, and fertiliser
application, on local lawn grass species in Darwin, NT.
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