East Street Water Feature: Three Rivers

Name of case study

East Street Water Feature: Three Rivers


Ashburton, New Zealand


1994 originally, then upgraded in 2021


Building/single site

Area / size


NbS employed

Flow forms and urban water features

Type of NbS

Engineered interventions (not using vegetation)


Ashburton District Council


Ashburton District Council


Initial cost of $NZ45,000 in 1994

Design group

Designed and cast by Iaian Trousdell, a sculptor

The Three Rivers water feature in Ashburton. Photo from Google Maps
The Three Rivers water feature under reconstruction in 2021. Photo from: Ashburton District Council
Climate change benefits
  • reduced fresh water availability / quality
  • urban heat island effect
  • increased temperatures

Including flowforms into urban landscapes, like the Three Rivers water feature in Ashburton is a way to combat the urban heat island effect. The water helps to lower temperatures and alter humidity making urban settings more comfortable particularly as temperatures increase. This water feature has been a landmark in the area since it was created in the 1990s, and was seen to be a key part of the restoration work to restore and revitalise the town centre.

Societal/socio-cultural benefits

Aesthetically, the Three Waters water feature is a key part of the Ashburton town centre, providing a space for locals to stop and relax. It is a point of connection in the public realm.

Ecological benefits
  • Fresh water
  • Habitat provision
  • Purification

A potential ecological benefit of the flow form is enabling water to be exposed to UV light (sunlight) as it moves through the sculpture, improving water quality.

Summary of case study

The East Street water feature was first installed in 1994, designed and cast by Iain Trousdell, a sculptor. The design is a reference to three major rivers in the area, and was given the name Three Rivers. It is made from fibreglass moulds and a concrete base. East Street is the town centre of Ashburton, a town in the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand home to about 35,000 people. The centre was damaged during the Canterbury earthquakes, so redevelopment was undertaken to strengthen and revitalise the area (Ashburton District Council, 2024). The project included restoration and upgrade of water infrastructure, new pedestrian surfaces and landscaping features. As part of that work, the water feature was repaired in 2021, with LED lighting and new planting added. 


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