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Unplugged Sustainability Story

Waterproofing the West – Stage One

Michael Hood, Associate, Advisory at Aurecon

Michael Hood, Aurecon

In the mid 2000’s the City of Charles Sturt, South Australia faced conflicting challenges. An extended period of drought had deteriorated the city’s green spaces. When it did rain, flooding often resulted.

From these challenges, the City of Charles Sturt developed a vision: Waterproofing the West. The vision was to create a system that would capture and treat stormwater, store the recycled water in subsurface aquifers and a piped distribution network to distribute the recycled water throughout western Adelaide and ultimately linking to similar schemes to the North and South as part of a City wide recycled water distribution network.

Waterproofing the West — Stage One secured AUD$71.5 million from nine partners and the project commenced in 2010. The goal of the Waterproofing the West — Stage One project was to create the initial elements of a system that harvests, treats and stores recycled water and distributes the recycled water through sections of western Adelaide.

The complex, unique and integrated Water Sensitive Urban Design solution that was created addresses the challenges associated with flood management, stormwater management and water supply management in a fully developed city.

The recycled water replaced the area’s potable water needs and the infrastructure that was developed is capable of capturing and treating 2 400 mega litres of water. Approximately 555 mega litres of potable water will be saved each year as a result of this project. The project also reduces the quantity of pollutants discharged into the marine environment through the capture of excess River Torrens water which would otherwise be discharged to the sea.

Waterproofing the West — Stage One also enhances the natural environment and increases biodiversity thanks to the construction of three wetland locations, with a total footprint of approximately 12 hectares which mimic the natural environment of the area prior to settlement. The local amenities have been improved through wetlands and attractive community spaces.

The project team needed to create water assets across linked sites. 

The key components of these water assets are:

Old Port Road Wetland

Pre-treated stormwater from the local catchment and distributed flows pumped from the River Torrens. The pretreated recycled water will be sent to the Riverside Golf Course Wetland and Cooke Reserve wetlands and biofilters for final treatment. Riverside Golf Course Wetland and Cooke Reserve wetlands and biofilters — these wetlands and biofilters take the partially treated stormwater from the Old Port Road wetland and further treats the stormwater. Following final treatment the recycled water will be stored in underground aquifers in close proximity to these locations for future recover. 

St Clair Wetlands

Stormwater from the surrounding local catchment and flows from the River Torrens will be fully treated prior to aquifer storage and recovery.

The Linking and Distribution Main

This pipe network links the three wetland and aquifer storage and recharge sites, to allow the recycled (nonpotable) water recovered from the aquifers to be distributed throughout the western suburbs. The Waterproofing the West — Stage One project constructed approximately 33 km of pipework.

River Torrens Transfer

Water from the River Torrens is diverted to the Old Port Road and St Clair wetlands to supplement the local catchment, approximately doubling the volume of stormwater recycled.

This very clever drone footage is shared with the kind permission of the City of Charles Sturt

Changing consumers’ ideas about water conservation

Road Engineer, David Fraser, moved to Australia in January 2011 to join Aurecon’s Adelaide team. When he arrived in Adelaide, the city was experiencing a drought and the temperature was a very warm 32°C.

“When I left Dundee in Scotland on a Friday, it was -2°C and snowing. Two days later, I was catapulted into heat waves and dry weather — something that I definitely wasn’t used to!” says David.

During this time, Aurecon were overseeing final stages of construction on the award-winning 100 GL per annum seawater desalination plant in Adelaide, a project that involved desalinating drinking water to meet the needs of Adelaide’s water supply network.

“It was a paradigm shift to move to a country where water is considered a scarce resource. In Scotland, it rains a lot of the time, so it was an eyeopening experience to witness all the infrastructure developments and long-term planning involved with optimising water as a resource,” says David.

Shortly after becoming a permanent resident in Australia, David started to chat to his team mates at Aurecon to get more information about potential property and land investments in his new home country. During these discussions, he heard about the Waterproofing the West project and the opportunity to plumb into the recycled water network. This was a deciding factor for David, leading him to buy a block of land in the St Clair development in the City of Charles Sturt. The 64 hectare development features storm water recycling for irrigation, idyllic wildlife reserves and viewing platforms of the nearby lagoon.

“I bought a small piece of land and I didn’t particularly want to have a rainwater tank in my already very small yard, but the development allowed me to connect my toilets and external irrigation system directly to the recycled water system of the lagoons,” explains David before adding that water is more expensive in Australia, so the lagoons that supply the recycled water make the sub-division really attractive.

“My home, which still resembles a bit of a construction site, is only 8 km from the CBD, but the area is so peaceful, quiet and tranquil. I really enjoy living here.” David says the process of investing in a property in a region where water consumption has to be carefully managed has changed his point of view about water sustainability completely.

“In Scotland, you wouldn’t think twice about letting a tap run while you brushed your teeth, for example. In Australia, you soon start to realise how precious water as a commodity is. You become very conscious of how you use water and how easily it can be wasted. My mind-set has changed significantly,” concludes David.

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