Wednesday, 18 January 2023 12:08

Turning Sydney into a city of fountains — to beat the heat Featured

Children play in a fountain Children play in a fountain WSROC

During extreme heat events, temperatures in Western Sydney can be between 6 and 10 degrees Celsius higher than in Sydney’s east making life very uncomfortable — especially in public places.

A contributing factor is the so-called Urban Heat Island Effect (UHI) — where urban areas present higher air temperatures than rural or coastal areas.

As Sydney experiences more frequent and prolonged heatwaves, it is becoming increasingly important to find new ways to help make Western Sydney a more comfortable place to live.

Ironically, part of the answer may lie in a technology that first appeared around 5,000 years ago – fountains.

According to the ‘Cooling Western Sydney’ study undertaken jointly by the University of NSW and Sydney Water, while greenery does have a cooling effect, the most effective results come from a combination of water-based technologies — including fountains — used in conjunction with cool material technologies such as cool roofs and pavements.

“Investments in water supply services and infrastructures can help cities to become more resilient to global warming and of heat waves in particular,” said Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) President, Councillor Barry Calvert.

“This could consist in such things as installing or repairing fountains for drinking and cooling, and for cooling spaces by using water spray fountains, along with cooling by wetting streets.

“Such measures have been included in the City of London Adaptation Plan, and in particular in its Drinking Fountain Initiative.

“Open water, too, can decrease the air temperature by evaporation, absorption of heat and transport of heat.

“The cooling effect of flowing water is greater than that of water that is standing still.

“This has to do with better mixing of flowing water and air and with the transport of heat.

“A water spray from a fountain has an even greater cooling effect because of the large contact surface of the water and air, which stimulates evaporation.

“When in contact with the skin, water spray can also have a cooling effect due to evaporation.

“Wetting of streets also has a cooling effect.

“Wetting is best done in the morning and afternoon in direct sunlight. This technique is in Mediterranean cities, but it has become common practice in summer throughout Europe.

“When one litre per square metre of water is applied, wetting of streets can decrease air temperatures by 2 to 4 degrees Celsius

“Fountains can decrease surrounding air temperatures by 3 degrees Celsius and their cooling effect can be felt up to 35 meters away.

“Fountains also have social value. Children play in fountains and people enjoy fountains in parks and squares, and they serve as meeting places.

“It’s time to challenge conventional thinking around mitigating urban heat, including the way we look at the built environment, energy demand, public health, and ‘greening’ cities,” said Councillor Calvert.

“Who knows? Maybe it’s time we turned Greater Sydney into a city of fountains?”

“After all, Rome has 2,000 of them!”


For details about how WSROC is combatting heat, see our Turn Down The Heat project.


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