Understanding WSC lifecycle costs

Better investment planning and budgeting for WSC infrastructure


We are working with partners in Victoria and Western Australia, and Water Sensitive SA to improve understanding and use of lifecycle costs information of WSC infrastructure. Practitioners will be able to use this information to compare the real cost of smaller scale water sensitive investments with larger scale asset investment.

View the recording and presentations from our recent webinar


Research and industry experience from across Australia consistently identifies the need for comprehensive and accurate lifecycle cost information for WSC infrastructure.

The call for better information on the costs of WSC infrastructure is to counter the persistent perception that maintenance costs is the only significant barrier to their widespread adoption.
Practitioners find it challenging to determine actual costs across a range of assets and locations with suitable accuracy and reliability to inform annual maintenance budgets (including materials, plant and labour). Further, collecting appropriate cost data to inform budgets and business cases, along with other persistent issues such as skills, capacity and capability, are seen as more significant barriers than just the cost of maintenance alone. In other words, better cost estimation is more than just a data collection process. It’s an opportunity for practitioners to better understand lifecycle costs and allow comparisons between water sensitive and other traditional solutions.

What we’re doing

Water Sensitive Cities Australia is working with partners around Australia to support better understanding and estimation of costs at each stage of the asset lifecycle:

  • strategic planning
  • financing and approvals
  • design and procurement
  • construction and establishment
  • asset handover
  • asset management, operations and maintenance
  • asset renewal/decommissioning.

Stage 1 of the project involved conducting a needs assessment, to identify the clear problem statement that will then be used to guide development of the toolkit. The problems consistently identified are:

  1. There are information gaps for some types of infrastructure solutions (i.e. we know less about WSUD assets than other infrastructure; we tend to focus on the assets we already have without considering the assets we might want to create in the future).
  2. There are gaps in spatial coverage of data. A national perspective would greatly increase the utility of the data, allowing a user to access and adapt data from another jurisdiction or climate context.
  3. Where data already exists, it is often orphaned and out of date.
  4. There is no consistent standard for collecting and managing  Even consistent definitions and a common framework of what is considered would assist.
  5. Data that exists is underutilised in benefit–cost analysis. Existing data is typically used in concept and detailed design stages and accessed through tools such as MUSIC. The data may not be available (or in a useful form) to those undertaking benefit–cost analysis.
Download the needs analysis report

Stage 2 of the project involves developing a prototype tool to improve understanding and use of lifecycle costs to better support an ‘all options on the table’ approach to decision making about creating water sensitive cities. The prototype tool will focus on asset types such as biofiltration, passive watering solutions and permeable paving initially.

The tool will be accompanied by guidelines explaining how to use the tool and how it can integrate with other decision support tools (such as the INFFEWS Benefit: Cost Analysis Tool).

    How it will help

    Greater clarity about expected lifecycle costs ensures that decentralised systems are also considered early, and when implemented are properly resourced, and more able to deliver the expected benefits.


    The CRCWSC has produced research, guidelines and
    tools related to the following topics:

    Integrated Urban Flood

    Climate change


    Economics and
    business case

    Flood resilience
    Green Infrastructure
    Urban heat