February 2015

NSW Local Government Environment Awards

27.02.2015 - Posted by Alexa McAuley
We’re pleased to report that two of our projects featured prominently in the 2014 NSW Local Government Environment Awards.

Blacktown showground precinct water sensitive urban design redevelopment
Blacktown Showground Precinct water sensitive urban design redevelopment

Blacktown Council were the overall winner in the “water conservation” category, for the Blacktown Showground Precinct Water Sensitive Urban Design Redevelopment. Blacktown Showground included a major stormwater treatment and harvesting component, which was designed by Equatica (now part of Alluvium) in 2012. A 900 m2 bioretention system and 1100 m2 wetland within the showground treat a substantial portion of Blacktown CBD catchment, while also forming central features of the park’s design. The treated water is stored for reuse in toilet flushing and irrigation on the site.

Hurstville Golf Course stormwater treatment and harvesting for irrigation of the golf course.
Hurstville Golf Course - stormwater harvesting and reuse

Hurstville Council were highly commended in Division C of the “water conservation” category, for the Peakhurst Light Industrial Stormwater Harvesting and Reuse Scheme. This project, located at Hurstville Golf Course, is a stormwater treatment and harvesting system for irrigation of the golf course. The scheme was designed by Equatica (now part of Alluvium) in 2011 and includes a 1200 m2 bioretention system, 2.5 ML storage pond, and a series of smaller wetlands and swales integrated into the golf course.

We worked with McGregor Coxall on both of these projects, who provided landscape design services and helped ensure a successful outcome in both cases.

There is more information about the Local Government Environment awards here: http://www.lgnsw.org.au/events-training/local-government-environment-awards

Some more related blogs:
Saturated zones – a success story (October 2014)
A review of urban water quality management infrastructure in Canberra (November 2014)
Sydney Park $10M urban water project and park upgrade (December 2014)
Parramatta River Catchment Group launches the Our Living River campaign (December 2014)
Alluvium developing Sydney Water’s WSUD policy (December 2014)
Maluga Ponds water quality improvement works (February 2015)

Flooding impacts the Brisbane River Catchment

23.02.2015 - Posted by Misko Ivezich
Just before Christmas last year the Queensland Government announced the Resilient Rivers program, which will form the Brisbane River Improvement Trust (see Brisbane Times article). The Resilient Rivers program aims to coordinate efforts to improve catchment management in the Brisbane River catchment.

The Brisbane River is of high economic value to South East Queensland. It supplies the majority of drinking water to the area, flows into Moreton Bay, is a key landmark within the CBD and is an important part of major social events for Brisbane residents (e.g. Riverfire). The flood events in recent years have made everyone more acutely aware of the problems the river faces. Millions of tonnes of sediment have been eroded from the catchment, resulting in significant water treatment costs, loss of dam storage, further degradation of Moreton Bay and risks to Port of Brisbane operations.

Bank erosion on the Mid Brisbane River; effects of flooding
Bank erosion on the Mid Brisbane River – the ute provides an indication to the magnitude of the erosion 

The majority of the sediment has come from channel erosion. In the last few years we have been involved in a number of projects across the Brisbane River catchment and have developed a good understanding of the problems in the system. Major geomorphic changes are occurring throughout the catchment, generating significant sediment loads and resulting in loss of valuable land. These changes are primarily occurring due to the degraded nature of the riparian vegetation in the system.

Bank erosion on the Mid Brisbane River; effects of flooding
Bank erosion on the Mid Brisbane River (note two people standing on top of the bank)

Some great work has been done restoring unstable sites across the catchment. However ultimately the long-term reduction in sediment loads will require reach-scale revegetation programs over tens of kilometres. Herein lies one of the major issues faced in the Brisbane River catchment – the bed, banks and riparian zone are often owned by private landholders. While landholders may be supportive of site-scale bank stabilisation works to address a clear and visible threat to their land, they can be less likely to support large-scale revegetation programs that will require them to forsake substantial areas of their valuable land.

Bank erosion on Lockyer Creek; effects of flooding
Bank erosion on Lockyer Creek

While this riparian land is of significant value to each individual landholder, it is also of immense value to the people of South East Queensland. Future investment in river restoration works should recognise this. Incentive or leasing programs could be negotiated with landholders where property owners restore their riparian vegetation in exchange for compensation which recognises any loss in productivity. Developing programs such as this is likely to result in a win-win for all involved - it simply requires better planning and more targeted funding for catchment management in South East Queenland. We hope this is what the recently announced River Improvement Trust can help deliver.

Some more related blogs:

2014 SEQ Healthy Waterways Report Card is released (October 2014)
River Basin Management Society in SEQ (November 2014)
Smales Park bank stabilisation works (January 2015)

Alluvium listed in Best Workplaces in Asia Awards

16.02.2015 - Posted by Matt Francey
We are proud to announce that Alluvium was listed number 14 in the Best Small and Medium Workplaces in Asia Awards last week.

This followed our ranking of 16th in the Australian Awards in 2014. The list is compiled by the Great Place to Work Institute - a global research, consulting and training firm that works with 5500 organisations in 50 countries.

We are very proud of this achievement and it continues to reinforce the results we have had over the past 5 years. Within Alluvium, we actively use the detailed feedback from the survey to inform what we need to do, how we should adjust our policies and what we need to work on each year. For us this is about how we can best meet the needs of our clients by supporting engaged, smart staff who are always focused on improvement rather than the status quo.

To view the award results, visit the Great Place to Work webpage.

Maluga Ponds water quality improvement works

14.02.2015 - Posted by Andrew McMillan
Maluga Ponds, in Sydney’s south-western suburb of Birrong, were suffering from poor water quality and diminished habitat and landscape value. Working with Bankstown Council, we have designed major upgrade works to improve water quality, habitat value and amenity at the ponds.

Maluga ponds in Sydney’s south-western suburb of Birrong.*

The design, completed by Alexa McAuley, David Knights and Andrew McMillan from our Sydney office, was centred on the principle of transforming the ponds into a more effective stormwater treatment system, while also addressing in-pond water quality, providing habitat of greater diversity and quality, and improving the aesthetics and amenity of the ponds.

A large section of the upstream pond will be transformed into a bioretention system, which has been designed to treat both incoming stormwater flows as well as recirculated flows from the downstream pond in dry times. Large areas of open water will remain, however a fluctuating water level will improve habitat diversity and allow the ponds to function more like a natural system. A new viewing area will complement the works and encourage park visitors to see the ponds in a new light.

Dewatering urban ponds is always interesting...this photo shows the soft sediment that has accumulated from decades of urban stormwater runoff [Source: A. McMillan].

The design was completed in 2013 and Alluvium assisted Council with the tendering process in 2014. David and Andrew are now providing construction-stage advice and assistance to Council.

We enjoy the opportunity to stay involved with all of our design projects though the construction stage and into their operational life. If you'd like to know more about the work at Maluga Ponds or water sensitive urban design, contact me via email (andrew.mcmillan@alluvium.com.au) or mobile (0414 484 030). 

* Source: http://www.weekendnotes.com/maluga-passive-park/

Safety in Design: It’s a legal requirement

3.02.2015 - Posted by Mark Hausfeld
Having worked on a diverse range of engineering design projects throughout Queensland, my experience is that the focus is primarily always on cost, quality and time. A critical component that is often overlooked is Safety in Design.

Construction staging of diversion works incorporating Safety in Design outcomes for future maintenance and establishment.

On a recent diversion and levee design in Queensland, we undertook the certified design and construction scope of the project. Embankment grades are usually designed (from an engineering perspective) in consideration of requirements such as stability and the establishment of vegetation. In consultation with the client and construction contractor throughout the design process, we determined several safety risks associated with the embankment slopes. These included access and egress requirements for staff undertaking future ongoing creek monitoring, and staff working on slopes during construction. The risks were reduced by designing lower grade embankments and documenting this process. This was only one of many risks identified in a comprehensive Safety in Design risk assessment throughout all phases of the project.

So, why is Safety in Design so important?

The ethical reason is to ensure our designs eliminate all safety risks, as much as possible, for the design life of the project. However, what is not as commonly understood is that Safety in Design is a legal requirement under the Queensland Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

Under the Act, designers are required to show at all levels of design that Safety in Design has been undertaken, and that risks have been eliminated or reduced as much is 'reasonably practicable'. This is fundamentally important from very early on in the design process, where there is more chance to design out hazards or incorporate compatible risk control measures.

In understanding the potential risks and hazards associated with Safety in Design, the Engineer is responsible for involving all parties in the design process, as their actions may affect the health and safety of others. This includes input from other design consultants or construction contractors for example, even if there is no contractual obligation between them.

If you would like more information on our design work or Safety in Design, you can contact me at mark.hausfeld@alluvium.com.au