During the Millennium Drought of the late nineties and early 2000s, unwillingly, Sydney had to draw upon remote river catchments to maintain its water supply until the drought was declared officially over. This was the catalyst for the City of Sydney to prepare for its future water security through the Sustainable Sydney 2030 report, and the Decentralised Water Master Plan (2012-2030). With Sydney and New South Wales now experiencing further record breaking drought the importance of this Master Plan is again realised.
The Sydney Park Water Re-Use Project is part of this comprehensive water strategy, aimed at reducing the City’s potable water demand by 10% before 2030. It is City of Sydney’s largest stormwater harvesting project to date.
The water scheme diverts an average of 85 million litres of stormwater per-annum for treatment within the park, and re-use. The treatment train includes a gross pollutant trap, 5000m2 of bio-retention systems, vegetated swales, aeration devices, and wetlands. Water recycled for irrigation is further treated by filtration and UV disinfection.
30 million litres a year of harvested water is now recycled for improved circulation of the ponds, irrigation of the nearby Alan Davidson oval and Village Green, and non-potable water supply for the on-site Council plant nursery and truck washing at the City of Sydney Depot.
The scheme is also intended to ultimately service additional uses beyond Sydney Park. These include nearby industrial sites such as concrete batching plants, metal recyclers, industrial laundry facilities, and textile manufacturers, as well as future urban redevelopment projects such as Ashmore Precinct and Alexandra Canal.
Previously, all stormwater from the 200 hectare upstream catchment flowed through the park in a concrete canal and into Botany Bay untreated. The pre-existing ponds at Sydney Park suffered poor water quality and outbreaks of blue-green algae due to periods of low rainfall and the stagnation of water. Significant water quality improvements have occurred within the sites water bodies as a result of the project.
In addition, this project contributes to the transformation of Sydney Park from its industrial and landfill legacy, into 44 hectares of parkland and a vital asset for the growing communities of Sydney’s south-east. It is a seamless intersection of design, art, science and ecology; an outcome only achieved by the devoted collaboration between the project team members.
The park’s fauna and flora is thriving, with new habitats created and existing ones protected and enhanced throughout the park.
The project has greatly improved visual amenity within the park, the health and quality of site vegetation, and public safety and amenity.
It reinvigorates our view of park landscapes, by creating intrigue and dialogue as park users explore and discover ‘moments’ in the landscape that can be at times playful, dramatic and peaceful, but at all times connected to the water narrative of capture, movement, and cleansing.
The exposure of this project educates visitors on the importance of water management and how improving water quality and reducing potable water can be intrinsically linked into our natural surroundings.