Water recycling project makes award splash

A Sydney Park project that cleans and reuses the equivalent of 340 Olympic-sized swimming pools of local stormwater runoff a year has been honoured with a 2016 Good Design Award.

The City of Sydney water re-use project harvests and treats up to 850 million litres of stormwater from Newtown’s Munni Street catchment each year. The water is used to irrigate the 44-hectare parkland and supply water to a neighbouring depot.

The elevated terracotta pipes that release the cleansed water into the park’s main pond are now a popular waterscape feature for visitors.

The project has won the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences category in the Good Design Awards – a prize given to products that have the potential to make a significant improvement to the quality of health, wellbeing or the environment.

“This is the City’s biggest environmental project to date and brought together design, science and sustainability to create a significant new piece of green infrastructure,” the Lord Mayor said.

“It not only improves overall water quality and habitat, it also educates residents and visitors on the importance of water management by allowing park visitors to connect to the concept of water capture and cleansing in a beautiful setting.”

Sydney Park water reuse 2

Under the water harvesting plan, stormwater is captured, stored and then treated to deliver a new sustainable water supply to the wetlands, Sydney Park, and potentially for nearby industrial use. There is also potential for other water users across the local area to access the clean water.

Director of Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Dolla Merrillees, called the Sydney Park water re-use development a ground breaking project.

“We have selected a project which highlights important contemporary issues such as sustainability and social innovation, and addresses the increasingly critical issue of our natural resources,” Ms Merrillees said.

“This community-focussed project illustrates how Australian designers are successfully responding to ‘real world’ problems, by planning our future cities and urban environment with a sense of social responsibility and purpose.”

The City’s water reuse project brought together Sydney firms Turf Design Studio, Environmental Partnership, Alluvium, Dragonfly and Turpin+Crawford Studio, who completed the two year project in October 2015.

The $11.2 million Sydney Park upgrade was co-funded by the City and the federal government. Work included:

  • Diverting stormwater through underground pipes;
  • Filtering water through a pollutant trap and series of bio-retention beds;
  • Revitalising the park’s wetland system to increase storage and improve water filtering;
  • Landscape improvement to create more recreation and play opportunities;
  • Connecting wetlands via a picturesque series of water cascades;
  • Improving the footpath network;
  • Installing new lighting, seating, and picnic areas;
  • Installing a dog water station to keep dogs away from the wetlands and give them somewhere to cool off;
  • Installing an artwork comprising a series of elevated terracotta channels that reflect the site’s history and aerate and distribute water throughout the wetland system; and
  • Providing information to park visitors about the water treatment and ecological function of the wetlands.

The project plans will be displayed in the Success and Innovation gallery at the Museum of Applied Arts and Science at Ultimo.