Stormwater NSW 2018 Awards for Excellence

The Stormwater NSW 2018 Awards for Excellence encourages and celebrates excellence in the innovation, development, completion and management of stormwater projects and the people involved.

The 2018 Stormwater NSW Awards for Excellence were presented in an Awards Breakfast at the Hilton Sydney Hotel on Friday, 17th August, 2018.

Awards were presented in the following categories:

  • Excellence in Strategic or Master Planning
  • Excellence in Infrastructure
  • Excellence in Asset Management
  • Excellence in Research and Innovation
  • Excellence in Policy or Education
  • Excellence in Integrated Stormwater Design
  • Young Stormwater Professional of the Year

Awards for Excellence – 2018 NSW Winners

Excellence in Research and Innovation – Highly Commended

Mainstream Recycling – Stormwater Waste Facility – a joint project between Mainstream Recycling and Total Drain Cleaning

Total Drain Cleaning has always had a strong environmental focus. We are always looking for ways to improve our process to ensure stormwater assets are operating optimally. It was therefore a logical extension to see what we could do to reduce the amount of stormwater waste that was ending up in landfill.

After spending years looking for a facility that would recycle or even take solid/wet loads we had to take the step and build our own. As such, Mainstream Recycling was born.

The vision, recycle 80-90% of the stormwater waste received and to have an end product that could be reused dramatically reducing the impact to landfill.

To achieve our goal required significant research and testing to ensure the chemical properties, types of waste, building requirements and all requirements of the EPA and DA were to meet all standards

Mainstream Recycling is now a dedicated Stormwater Recycling Facility solely focused on the processing of waste procured from stormwater assets with our primary goal to ensure the minimum amount of waste is sent to landfill. Both wet and dry waste is able to be processed at this facility. The process is done through multiple steps to ensure the maximum amount of waste (both organic and in-organic) is recycled. We have been able to design a process that separates the solid and liquid waste quite quickly enabling a fast turnaround limiting any odour and moving the final product out the door ready for re use.

The recycled product is tested as per our licencing requirements and then is dispatched to other DA accredited facilities for the final tweaking ready for the landscaping market.

We are currently processing over 10,000 tonne of solid waste per annum, this equates to approximately 8,000 tonne of solid waste being recycled.

Excellence in Infrastructure – Winner

Angus Creek Stormwater Harvesting and Reuse Scheme – Blacktown City Council

Blacktown City Council has built a stormwater harvesting and reuse scheme that can collect, treat and supply up to 200 million litres (ML) of stormwater per year. The water is used to irrigate the Blacktown International Sportspark Sydney, along with Council’s neighbouring Anne Aquilina Reserve, Kareela Reserve and Charlie Bali Reserve and assists with topping up the ornamental lakes at Nurragingy Reserve.

The scheme is different to many other schemes as it:

  • Primarily uses natural treatment processes (ponds, floating wetland rafts and a wetland) to remove the majority of sediments, nutrients, heavy metals and hydrocarbons before it receives mechanical treatment to ensure the water quality is fit for purpose, as seen in figure 4.
  • Is one of the largest schemes in Sydney and Australia
  • Is the first of its type (harvesting from a creek and not a concrete channel or pipe) for Blacktown City Council and one of the first for metropolitan Sydney
  • Challenges the business as usual approach and questions the validity of Water NSW’s Water Sharing Plans regarding the extraction of stormwater in urban creeks
  • Provides a great example for Council, and other Councils, to complete similar projects as the process followed and results are transferable.

The scheme’s main benefits include:

  • Self-funded
    • The scheme charges the user of the harvested stormwater (Open Space Maintenance Section and Blacktown Venue Management) at the same cost per KL as Sydney Water.
    • Funds generated from the sale of the harvested stormwater covers costs associated with the ongoing operation and maintenance of the scheme inclusive of assets replacements, along with costs associated with employment of a full time Stormwater Harvesting Officer that coordinates this all.
    • Solar panels to offset energy usage
  • Drought proofing the reserves
    • When in place, water restrictions will impact the community and sporting teams that use the fields. This project increases the capacity of the managers of the sporting fields to irrigate the fields during water restrictions as the scheme provides an alternative water source that can met approximately 84% of the water demand in an average rainfall year.
  • Improving the health of Angus Creek
    • One of the main causes of creek degradation is peak flows entering local waterways during storm events. These high flows cause creek bed and back erosion and negatively impact the health of our waterways. The scheme reduces these impacts by harvesting flows above 10 litres per second (L/s). Harvesting this stormwater from an urban creek reduces the amount of stormwater in the creek, resulting in a decline in creek bed and bank erosion so that waterway health is improved.
  • Enhancing liveability

Blacktown City Council is committed to improving the way it manages water so that waterway improvements can be achieved, while enhancing amenity and liveablity for its community.  By undertaking projects like this scheme, Council is securing a sustainable water supply while providing improving the health of Angus Creek.

Excellence in Asset Management – Highly Commended

WSUD Device Audit and Maintenance Program – Fairfield City Council

Fairfield City Council has designed and constructed a variety of over 40 WSUD devices over the past decade. There was an early emphasis on divesting the importance and design standards for WSUD devices throughout Council. This has meant that there were several teams empowered to design them, but the level of maintenance of these devices was dependent on the team that designed them. Therefore all of Fairfield City Councils WSUD devices were sitting at varying states of maintenance.

The Catchment Planning team recognised this issue as we had been the main designer and constructor of these projects previously, and we were still paying for the maintenance of these previous projects from our own budgets. Therefore the teams Graduate Engineer was charged with documenting ALL the WSUD assets in the LGA.  He had to ensure the data required by our City Assets team was also captured as previous discussions determined that they would be responsible for all infrastructure maintenance once the assets were deemed to be ‘handed over’.

Catchment Planning worked very closely with City Assets and Natural Resources, with teams taking the lead when their knowledge and expertise prevailed. All of the devices were documented and assessed with respect to their current conditions and maintenance requirements. The maintenance requirements for each device were then taken and used to create an inspection and maintenance checklists, both of which can be used on a mobile device. The details of all infrastructure assets were also entered into Council’s asset register. This work has also produced a more streamlined hand over process for future WSUD device projects.

The checklists were thoroughly road tested to ensure they were suitable for use, with Catchment Planning’s Graduate Engineer accompanying a junior City Assets team member when they were undertaking the inspections, and the same when our City Works team has undertaken maintenance works.

A maintenance manual was created to ensure that all elements of the WSUD devices were documented. Each element was photographed showing it a poor condition, and then in good condition so people undertaking the maintenance are aware of what is required. There are also schematics of each device to ensure continuity of knowledge as to the extent of the device and how it functions.

When the devices were inspected with respect to their current condition, several assets were found to be under performing, or not performing as designed. These issues were documented, and a minor upgrade works have been programmed for 2017/18 & 2018/19 to rectify any issues. The minor upgrade works for 2017/18 are already complete.

Overall the process has ensured a deeper understanding of how the WSUD devices operate throughout the organisation. Council has set up a quality management process for the continued inspection and maintenance of the devices to ensure continued effective operation and eliminate the need for upgrade works due to poor maintenance.

Excellence in Asset Management – Winner

Powells Creek Naturalisation Project – Sydney Water

Sydney Water owns and manages Powells Creek in Homebush, a concrete lined channel that was built in the mid-1930s and runs along the boundary of Canada Bay Council and Strathfield Municipal Council. Powells Creek had been identified as needing repair due to deteriorating banks and Sydney Water chose to naturalise and stabilise 750m of the creek with native plants and sandstone instead of relining it with concrete.

Powells Creek is an integral part of recreational open space in both Local Government Areas, with a heavily utilised key north south link bicycle pathway for the inner city and proximity to dog parks and sporting facilities. Adjacent to the Channel are wetlands managed by Strathfield Council. The wetlands are an endangered coastal saltmarsh vegetation community and provide habitat for a range of threatened species, such as the short-leafed Wilsonia.

Naturalising Powells Creek involved:

  • removing the concrete lined banks
  • replacing concrete banks with grouted faced sandstone, stabilised rock banks, native planting and widening the channel
  • installing block pools for silt deposition and saltmarsh establishment
  • building a new walkway section and realigning the existing cycleway
  • constructing a rest area with seating and signage to appreciate the wetlands
  • minor earthworks to modify the banks and to reduce bank slope
  • including in-stream features to promote diverse habitat for native wildlife

By balancing the expertise and expectations of stakeholders, including Council, the project manages to use innovation to manage stormwater issues as well as enhance the liveability of the area and improves the ecological and social value of the channel. Flood mitigation, ecology and liveability form the focus of this naturalisation.

Excellence in Policy and Education – Highly Commended

Get the Site Right Sediment and Erosion Control Campaign – A joint project by the Cooks River Alliance, Georges Riverkeeper, Parramatta River Catchment Group and Sydney Coastal Councils Group in partnership with the NSW Environmental Protection Authority and the NSW Department of Planning and Environment

The suburbs around Sydney’s waterways are booming. The Cooks River, Georges River, Parramatta River, and coastal areas are all under pressure from an increasing population and activity, which has led to new construction, developments and home-building. Coupled with this is a greater public expectation for a quality, local waterway which people can safely use for leisure activities. Sediment such as sand, soil and mud can run off building sites into stormwater drains and into the river if not properly contained.

Get the Site Right is a month long campaign, where authorised officers from multiple agencies join forces for a soil and erosion control blitz at construction sites. It highlights the important role that developers and builders play in cleaning up our waterways.

The month long campaign focuses on a one day Blitz, where all of the authorised officers from each council, the NSW EPA and NSW DPE are out in force at the same time inspecting sites to ensure the proper implementation of erosion and sediment control measures. While there are differences among Councils, the general approach is for officers to first inspect the sites in the weeks leading up to the Blitz Day and issue warnings, discuss the campaign and the erosion and sediment control measures that are expected. Then, on the Blitz Day, officers revisit the sites that were non-compliant in the lead up and issue fines or other appropriate measures if the breaches have not been addressed.

The Get the Site Right campaign has focused on three key activities:

  1. A targeted compliance blitz of construction sites of all sizes across Sydney.
  2. Consistent and tailored messaging broadcast to regulators, builders/developers and the general public to encourage a proactive approach.
  3. Data collection and reporting to key stakeholders and the community to measure and demonstrate the impacts of the campaign.

The first campaign was in October 2016, and involved 8 Councils and the EPA. In May 2017, NSW Department of Planning and Environment (NSW DPE) and the 3 remaining PRCG councils also joined the campaign. In November 2017, the campaign grew again, when the PRCG partnered with the other catchment groups across Sydney – Cooks River Alliance (CRA), Georges Riverkeeper (GR) and Sydney Coastal Councils Group (SCCG) – to extend the campaign across Sydney, with 18 councils participating. More than 1500 inspections were conducted across the first three targeted campaigns, resulting in over $850,000 in fines. Results from the fourth campaign will be available mid-June 2018.

Statistics from the campaigns are collected, including number of sites visited, number of compliant and non-compliant sites, number and types of breaches, type of action taken, and amount of fines issued. This data is starting to paint a picture as to how the development and building industry manage erosion and sediment control on their sites, which developers repeatedly have breaches and receive fines and the types of breaches that are occurring. This is helping us to adapt our education and compliance approaches to encourage the development and building industry to be always vigilant in the implementation of their erosion and sediment control measures to protect our local waterways.

Excellence in Policy and Education – Winner

Improving Water Sensitive Design Development Control Plan and Guidelines through meaningful collaboration – A joint project between MidCoast Council and Alluvium

Our project improves the adoption rates of best practice stormwater management in development to achieve water quality targets and improved ecological health within our waterways. This has been achieved by collaboratively working with stakeholders, listening to feedback and actively incorporating this into version 2 of Council’s Water Sensitive Design Chapter of the Great Lakes Development Control Plan (WSD DCP). As a result of this approach the policy and guidelines are tailored specifically to the needs of our area, setting Council’s own benchmark for best practice, which is the subject of this application.

Version 1 of the WSD DCP (2012), did not anticipate all of the issues it might come up against. Customers found it difficult to understand and apply; which was evidenced by the poor standard of development applications Council received. Information gaps in the WSD DCP also became obvious, including the lack of guidance for constrained sites such as steep slopes, unsewered development and lots with no formal drainage infrastructure.  As these issues arose, staff proactively sought feedback on areas for improvement from users of the policy, this involved ongoing conversations with local designers, architects, planning consultants and staff from across Council.  As a result, a range of educational and information resources were developed to accompany the WSD DCP including frequently asked questions, factsheets and standard drawings.

The revision of the WSD DCP was designed to incorporate the key lessons from the first few years of the applying the policy.  Improvements included: a step by step process for the assessment of WSD by development type and location, well defined exemptions and development controls, additional “deemed to comply solutions” and clarity on what WSD information is required within a development application.

The new DCP incorporated much of the guidance that used to “sit outside” of the DCP. This additional material was developed to cover the gaps in the original WSD DCP; however, it soon became more referenced than the actual DCP provisions.  The revised version of the WSD DCP corrects this by including the complete set of WSD aims and assessment criteria into the policy and providing additional simplified education resources, including standard drawings, to accompany the DCP provisions.

To further support the amended DCP, Water Sensitive Design Strategy and Modelling Guidelines have also been prepared for developments that trigger the need for a full Stormwater Strategy and MUSIC modelling, including subdivisions and large scale commercial and industrial developments. The guidelines were developed with direct involvement from local engineering consultants, workshops and feedback sessions. The guidelines draw on external expertise (Alluvium Consulting) to give clear instructions on what should be included in the Stormwater Strategy and the appropriate way to develop MUSIC models.

The WSD DCP is now a clear, concise and robust policy. Combined with updated standard drawings, mapping, education materials and guidelines, customers have clear information to prepare development applications that address all of the requirements.  By receiving complete and correct information in development applications, Council has experienced improved efficiencies in the assessment of these applications, a reduction in customer enquiries and the increased application of best practice WSD approaches.

Excellence in Master or Strategic Planning – Winner

Multistage Development of Georges Riverkeeper Strategic Plan 2018-2022 – a joint project of Georges Riverkeeper and its member councils: Bayside Council, Campbelltown City Council, City of Canterbury-Bankstown, Fairfield City Council, Georges River Council, Liverpool City Council, Sutherland Shire Council, and Wollondilly Shire Council.

Georges Riverkeeper is a not-for-profit organisation that receives funding from member councils to deliver Programs and work with other stakeholders to protect, conserve and enhance the Georges River. This requires strategic allocation of resources in recognition and response to the main issues in the catchment, but previous plans did not explicitly acknowledge that the catchment is highly urbanised and that the vast majority of pollutants in the river are from stormwater. Georges Riverkeeper, in consultation with its member councils, conducted a thorough review of its Programs and developed a Strategic Plan to be implemented over a four year period (2018-2022). Within the Plan, the aspirational goal is to implement best practice environmental management for a liveable urban river. Planning to meet this aspirational goal required explicit recognition that stormwater is presently the main driver of waterway degradation, but there are also emerging opportunities to use stormwater as a resource.

Development of the Georges Riverkeeper Strategic Plan had the unique challenge of integrating the visions of eight councils that currently vary in structure and strategies for dealing with waterway issues, including stormwater. The Strategic Plan also needed to integrate those successful initiatives that were underpinned by the previous Management and Implementation Plan, whilst being cognizant of the available resources, knowledge and skills within Georges Riverkeeper. The Strategic Plan involved a review of the Management and Implementation Plan, initial discussions with individual councils about existing strengths and areas for improvement, development of these ideas by Georges Riverkeeper staff, a workshop with all councils to confirm all ideas were incorporated and there was general agreement, and development of more specific actions by Georges Riverkeeper.

The Georges Riverkeeper Strategic Plan facilitates proactive waterway management that is adaptive and integrated across all council areas. There are five focus areas covered by Programs within the Strategic Plan.

The Stormwater Program is a major new initiative of Georges Riverkeeper, in recognition that 95% of the contaminant load to the Georges River is derived from stormwater runoff. Our goal is to have a marked impact on the quality and quantity of stormwater entering the Georges River and improve stormwater management towards regulatory best management practice standards.

  • The Catchment Actions Program is focused on on-ground works, primarily litter removal and bush regeneration.
  • The River Health Program aids adaptive management by ongoing monitoring of the health of the river, which facilitates efficient and effective use of management resources directed towards waterway improvement.
  • The Research Program will try to bridge the many gaps in our knowledge about the effects of urbanisations on complex aquatic ecosystems, how best to mitigate the impacts, the features that will define liveable urban rivers in the future and how to overcome the multifaceted barriers presently acting to hinder progress towards making liveable urban rivers.
  • The Education & Capacity Building Program enables Georges Riverkeeper to engage with a broad range of stakeholders who presently lack a shared understanding about the main issues (both values and threats) affecting liveability of waterways across the catchment or how to effectively manage the issues. A key goal will be to build the capacity of councils to implement best practice stormwater management, by sharing knowledge and working with industry leaders such as Splash.

Excellence in Integrated Stormwater Design – Joint Winner

Wangal Park: Where stormwater creates liveability – a joint project of Burwood Council, Alluvium Consulting, McGregor-Coxall, Dragonfly Environmental, Glascott Landscape & Civil and Neverstop Water

Wangal Park exemplifies integrated design for the liveability of Sydney’s inner west community.  Within this four-hectare reserve, the jewel in the crown is its stormwater treatment, harvesting and reuse system that provides aesthetic and aquatic habitat water features within the park and a sustainable alternative source of water for irrigation. Visitors from nearby and afar are drawn to the central wetlands where the catchment’s stormwater is treated and harvested to support a beautiful asset for their enjoyment. While reducing pollutant loads to Canada Bay and substituting mains potable water for irrigation, what really differentiates this facility from others is found in its integrated design. The wetland provides an impressive environmental, cultural, recreational and educational space for locals and visitors to appreciate and enjoy.  As you enter the area, your first impression is sheer amazement with the beauty and functionality of the facilities.  Interpretative signage informs you of the history of the site and the intricate relationships between treatment and resources, aesthetics and habitat that have been woven into landscape through sensitive design.

Wangal Park expresses a new generation in stormwater management.  Its ingenuity of integrated design is recognised in its relationship to the landscape where the wetland fits seamlessly into the park landscape.  This discrete melding of blue and green elements while providing essential ecosystem services makes this facility stand out well beyond other stormwater facilities in Australia.

Excellence in Integrated Stormwater Design – Joint Winner

Extreme Wetland Makeover – Multiple Benefits oat Mountain View Reserve, Penrith – A joint project of Penrith City Council, Alluvium, the Australian Government and the NSW Department of Planning and Environment

In 2013 Penrith City Council secured a grant under the Australian Government’s Biodiversity Fund program for $1.8 million to restore a regionally significant wetland and adjacent Cumberland Plain Woodland in Cranebrook. The subject site had become neglected and degraded with weeds after a history including grazing.

Stormwater treatment projects provide opportunities for a range of ecological and community liveability benefits, and Penrith City Council’s scheme at Mountain View Reserve has evolved to demonstrate this potential.

The 4 year Cranebrook Wetland and Bushland Restoration project was initially focussed on stormwater treatment due to its location immediately upstream of the Penrith Lakes, but also included the restoration of about 5 hectares of natural wetland and bush regeneration to improve and protect the 15ha adjacent bushland.

A concept had previously been prepared for a stormwater treatment wetland at the site, and through design development this was revised to respond to the existing ecological value found at the site and to suit the available project budget. The treatment system now includes a constructed wetland that was designed to require minimal earthworks and utilise the existing soil surface found at the site.

A collaborative and multi-faceted project has resulted in a number of complimentary sub-projects to improve and activate the site. Community engagement was a key feature throughout, including formation of a local bushcare group, community workshops, planting days and other events to promote this natural asset to the community. The project works also included significant erosion control, construction of walking paths, a viewing platform, a bird hide and installation of public artwork and interpretive signage.

The project has restored the site to a highly valued asset, increasing the resilience and biodiversity value of the remnant wetland, and reactivating community connections through linkages and amenity.

Young Professional of the Year

Jordan Mulhearn, Sydney Water