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2021 Winning Projects

Excellence in Strategic or Master Planning – Winner

Integrating Recycled Water and Stormwater in the Mamre Road Precinct: A Template for Australia’s Largest Water Sensitive City

Sydney Water

Mamre Road must be delivered as a water sensitive precinct if it is to achieve greening, cooling and waterway health objectives established by the Government’s city planners and to achieve the vision of the Western Sydney Aerotropolis. The greening, cooling and waterway health requirements for urban planning in Sydney’s new Aerotropolis release area provide significant opportunities while ensuring efficiency for development. Sydney Water is detailing the use of alternative, non-drinking water sources such as recycled wastewater and stormwater and working with key stakeholders to identify innovative strategy and governance options to realise the vision.

Sydney Water has led the stormwater planning to facilitate an innovative third pipe recycled water scheme that combines purified stormwater and wastewater for delivery across the 850-hectare industrial precinct at Mamre Road. The Mamre Road IWCM strategy demonstrates that integration of water systems and assets can maximise the value of stormwater water for targeted end uses, while reducing water infrastructure costs, creating a better funding proposition, and driving liveability outcomes for the future community.

This strategy delivers a truly water sensitive city approach on a significant scale that is a template for integrated water cycle management across the Western Sydney Aerotropolis and greater Western Sydney.

Analysis has identified that there are opportunities for offsetting drinking water use in Mamre using a precinct scale, fully integrated recycled and stormwater system. When rainfall is insufficient, recycled water will be used to meet ‘top-up’ and back up supply needs, helping maintain green infrastructure during dry spells.

Options for combining recycled and stormwater systems were assessed, and the outcomes of this investigation informed improved options in the draft development control plan (DCP) and development master planning currently underway. Advancing integrated water management for Mamre Road, will benefit the broader water industry by contributing technology, stakeholder engagement and governance advancements.

The strength of this project and its projected benefits have prompted the NSW Government to carefully consider this as a landmark planning project, set to transform planning through integrated water systems.

Excellence in Infrastructure – Winner

Manly – Safe and Beautiful once again

Northern Beaches Council and Optimal Stormwater

Millions of people visit Manly every year. Almost two decades ago, Manly Council installed a Net tech trap over the main stormwater outfall onto Manly Beach. It didn’t perform as desired and drew many complaints over the past 2 decades. It was also very difficult to maintain.

Accordingly, it was high on the infrastructure upgrades for Northern Beaches Council. A new and effective treatment was required. Through a competitive public tender process, NBC engaged Optimal Stormwater to deliver the project.

The new solution had to be off the beach, work in with the promenade and heritage seawall, capture 3 stormwater lines, deal with groundwater during construction, repel the sand at high tide and offer the highest level of protection available in a gross pollutant trap. It also had to be accessible for regular and annual maintenance and it had to have outlet exclusion bars that would meet the guidelines about to come out from IPWEA.

Optimal designed then constructed a vortex-style GPT, with tideflex flap, pipe diversions, exclusion bars and turned the lid into a piece of art. Its working perfectly, and NBC are now proud owners of a very effective stormwater treatment system.

Excellence in Asset Management – Winner

Johnstons Creek Naturalisation

Sydney Water, Diona Pty Ltd, and Thompson Berrill Landscape Design Pty Ltd

Sydney Water owns and manages Johnstons Creek in Annandale, a stormwater channel that was concrete lined in the 1890s. A condition assessment identified Johnstons Creek as needing renewal due to deteriorating banks. Instead of relining the channel with concrete, Sydney Water chose to naturalise and stabilise 610 metres of the creek with native plants and sandstone blocks. Given the corrosive saline tidal environment, concrete deteriorates quickly and so by naturalising the asset, Sydney Water has extended the asset life to more than 150 years whilst also injecting ecological and aesthetic value into the asset and surrounding area. A key theme appearing from consulting the local community since 2016, is that 86% supported naturalisation of waterways.

The Johnstons Creek Precinct is an integral recreational open space in the City of Sydney Local Government Area, and Johnstons Creek runs through the middle of these highly valued parklands. The area is an important recreational space for the community as it is used for outdoor sport, informal recreation as well as festivals and events. Vibrant retail centres such as the Tramsheds is located in proximity to the Johnstons Creek Precinct in addition to several residential apartment blocks, all of which shape the character of this dynamic urban, inner-city community. Located in the middle of the project site is a heritage listed Light Rail Viaduct, which required meaningful collaboration between Sydney Water and Transport for NSW, Transdev and Sydney Trains during the design and delivery of this naturalisation project.

Naturalising Johnstons Creek involved:
• removing the concrete lined base and banks and recycling 5,800 tonnes of concrete
• replacing concrete banks with large sandstone blocks, stabilised rock banks and native planting
• planting 2,730m3 of endangered saltmarsh
• widening the channel in parts, including constructing saltmarsh benches and ecological intertidal rock pools
• building new paths, lookout areas and a boardwalk for the community to enjoy the naturalised waterway environs, along with inspirational interpretive signs and seating
• minor reshaping of the banks to reduce bank slope and increase safety
• creation of a unique in-stream sandstone invert in the channel base to provide in-stream aquatic habitat for diverse native marine species.

Council has been heavily involved in the project with Lord Mayor Clover Moore stating that “in partnership with Sydney Water, we’re naturalising the creek.” By balancing the expertise and expectations of stakeholders, including Council, rail authorities and the community, the project innovatively manages stormwater issues while enhancing the liveability of the area and improving the ecological and social value of the channel, which has now been transformed into a vibrant waterway environment. Flood mitigation, ecology and liveability culminate in an exemplary example of asset management.

Excellence in Research and Innovation – Winner

BOM the Builder: A Free Online Meteorological Template Generator


BOM the Builder is a free online software tool that generates a meteorological template (.mlb file). Meteorological templates are required as an input in MUSIC modelling to demonstrate compliance with stormwater management guidelines in authorities across Australia, and for other modelling purposes.

Best-practice in the creation of meteorological templates requires two components:
– the selection of an appropriate rainfall dataset that contains a minimum of 10 years with rainfall recorded at 6-minute intervals and
– the potential evapotranspiration (PET) data for the site.

In some metropolitan regions, modelling guidelines exist which specify the meteorological template. These templates have been created manually by highly experienced consultants. Still, most of these templates contain missing or accumulated data.
In addition, many regional Authorities do not specify a meteorological template for their service area.
Consultants have to spend time searching for the appropriate rainfall station and PET values to use. Accessing data is costly (in time and effort) and quality of data varies.
Creation of the meteorological template in MUSIC is error-prone as each consultant makes decisions re the data they choose.
This leads to inconsistent models of variable quality.

These challenges are the foundation on which BOM the Builder (BTB) was built. BTB includes complete 6-minute rainfall station dataset (as of 2021) as well as the Australia-wide geogrid for monthly PET distributions from BOM. BTB makes this data readily available via a digital map. When the user selects a location and generates data, BTB uses an algorithm to rank rainfall stations based on elevation as well as distance from the selected location. The dataset from the first ranked rainfall station is selected and the most recent 10 years are used. Any missing data is infilled using data outside of the 10 year period (either from the same rainfall station if available or from the other rainfall stations based on ranking). BTB then combines this synthetic dataset with the monthly PET values (easily determined based on the latitude and longitude selected) to generate an .mlb file which the user can download and use in MUSIC Modelling.

Excellence in Policy and Education – Winner

Blacktown’s Community Stormwater Education Program

Blacktown City Council

Blacktown City Council’s ongoing stormwater education program aims to increase community awareness of stormwater issues and facilitate improved water sensitive behaviours. Council’s Environment section leads the program, partnering with internal and external stakeholders on a variety of projects that target different community segments.

Three overarching Council documents provide direction for our stormwater education program, as outlined below.
1. The Environmental Stormwater Management Program 2020/21 to 2024/25, funded by Council’s Stormwater management service charge, requires us to:
• increase community awareness of stormwater issues and improve water sensitive behaviours across the City’s diverse ethnic and language groups
• achieve greater community participation in activities to help create and maintain healthier waterways.
2. Our Blacktown 2036 2017-2022 Delivery Program requires that we:
• increase community understanding about preventing stormwater pollution.
3. Six Streams – Blacktown City Council’s Integrated Water Strategy 2020 requires:
• community-focused actions which are delivered by our community stormwater education program, including:
i. educate residents and businesses in the benefits of installing rainwater tanks
ii. continue supporting the Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG) and the Our Living River campaign to ‘Make the Parramatta River Swimmable again by 2025’
iii. identify locations where the community can participate in waterway management activities and engage in ‘splashable’ activities across our waterways.

Our Stormwater education strategy 2021/22 to 2024/25 focuses on increasing community knowledge of the negative impacts of stormwater flowing into creeks, rivers and oceans, and the effects for fish and wildlife. The strategy includes projects tailored to suit different community audiences including school students, teachers, families, early childhood educators, pre-school aged children, dog-owners, builders and developers. We have used our Blacktown City’s waterways video to outline our waterways and the negative effects of stormwater pollution in an engaging manner: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZzaA321N7zU.

In 2019-2021, our key achievements include:
• engaging over 3,000 people in 53 face-to-face events
• reaching over 44,000 people in a ‘Waterwise’ Facebook campaign
• broadening our engagement reach to include over 1,400 pre-school aged children through training our early childhood educators.
• 100% of surveyed attendees reporting an increased understanding of stormwater pollution after participating in our engagement activities.


Excellence in Integrated Stormwater Design – Winner

Gannons Park Water Quality Improvement and Stormwater Harvesting Scheme

Georges River Council, NSW State Government, Australian Federal Government, and Alluvium 

The Gannons Park Water Quality Improvement and Stormwater Harvesting Scheme is a large-scale landscape and stormwater treatment project focused on reinstating a section of Boggywell Creek to develop significant public space and improve the community’s connection to environmental processes.

This project involved the removal of concrete stormwater infrastructure, and construction/reinstatement of natural waterway features including swales, wetlands, ponds and bioretention systems. This work has improved the local environment by increasing terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity, improving the quality of stormwater entering the Georges River, saving potable water while creating opportunities for the community to enjoy the park through the associated landscaping, shared path and facilities. The harvested stormwater will be used to irrigate the regionally significant sporting fields on the upper section of the park.

Young Professional of the Year

Oscar Bentham

Optimal Stormwater

It’s not every day someone like Oscar Bentham comes along.

Oscar joined us to do work experience in 2017, and we didn’t want to let him go. After his work experience he worked with us part time during his degree, then once he was nearing completion of his dual degrees, we offered him a full time career in early 2020.

The main project Oscar has been involved with is the upgrade of dozens of Stormwater Treatment Solutions, specifically GPTs all through the municipality of Randwick, for Randwick City Council. His involvement in the successive projects culminated most recently with the construction of a very complex, but much needed GPT on the foreshore at La Perouse. This is young man has excelled at everything we’ve thrown at him, and this construction project shows the significant positive outcomes that can be achieved through strategic planning, good asset management and the commitment of good people.

In 2017, during his second year of university, Oscar audited all 35 of Randwick City Councils gross pollutant traps. The audit identified hydraulic, structural, and maintenance issues with Council’s GPTs and provided a scope to restore the functionality of each. The audit identified opportunities to upgrade old technologies to current technologies, e.g. upgrading Nettechs to high-performing underground GPTs. This layed the platform for what was to come.

Then in 2019, during his fourth year of university, Optimal Stormwater won the first round of GPT rectifications, and because Oscar was already familiar with the devices and the project, we thought we’d see how he went, and add in some training and mentoring as required. The works were identified from the 2017 GPT audit and involved replacing screens, lids, and upgrading non-functional GPTs. Oscar didn’t need much mentoring, and took to it like a fish to water. He was passionate and committed and managed the suppliers, subcontractors and liaison with Council, and it was a pleasure to see him work. Based on this, we offered him full time employment, and he worked successfully on a variety of projects over the next year

In 2021, as a recent graduate, he project managed the second round of GPT rectifications, then designed eleven new GPTs, AND project managed the construction of one of the eleven new GPT designs, all for Randwick City Council.

Oscar Bentham (known to his friends as OB1) showed insight and design skills beyond his years. He juggled the competing objectives of cost, time, quality and performance, and optimised every solution he touched. He managed surveyors, service locators, geotechs, suppliers and subcontractors, and he was outstanding.

Oscar was able to audit existing devices, design new ones, and then supervised (and participated in) the construction of a new GPT. He’s become a huge part of the team, and is genuinely liked by everyone at the office, and everyone he’s worked with. We’re very proud to have him, and he’s an asset for not just us, but the whole industry.

Winner Announcement Highlight Reel