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Reclaimed water nets award for Shoalhaven

Shoalhaven City Council’s Reclaimed Water Management Scheme (REMS) has won the IPWEA Award for Environmental Enhancement Project or Initiative Including Recovery, Recycling and Reusing.

Shoalhaven Water’s REMS is designed to reuse treated wastewater on local farms, sporting fields and golf courses, and is one of the largest and most complex water recycling schemes undertaken by a regional water authority.

Shoalhaven Water has successfully implemented two stages of the scheme, including the collection of reclaimed water from St Georges Basin, Huskisson and Vincentia, Culburra and Callala wastewater treatment plants (WTP).

Furthermore, major upgrades to the Bomaderry and Nowra WTPs, and the construction of a reclaimed water transfer main beneath the Shoalhaven River, has doubled the reclaimed water supply managed by the scheme to 13 million litres per day.

Shoalhaven Water Executive Manager Robert Horner said the collected reclaimed water is transferred to participating irrigation areas via a transfer and distribution system, and is the largest reclaimed water scheme operated by a council in Australia.

“Following the success of the Stage 1A works, Shoalhaven Water initiated the next stage of the REMS augmentation. The upgrades involved augmentation of the Nowra and Bomaderry WTPs, commissioning of the new facilities and demolition of existing structures,” he said.

Shoalhaven Water contracted UGL/UEA for construction of a 2.9 km transfer main to allow reclaimed water to be transferred between the augmented Bomaderry and Nowra WTPs and the existing REMS distribution system, Horner said.

“The project involved a major horizontal directionally drill crossing of the Shoalhaven River, 1410 m in length, through various ground conditions including sand, silt, clay, gravel, cobble and hard metamorphic rock,” he said.

“To help manage the unstable and problematic overlying ground conditions, steel conductor casing was required to be seated fully into rock from the entry, preventing intrusion of overlying soils and escape of drilling fluids into the sensitive marine environment.

“Following the successful installation of the Shoalhaven River crossing, a NATA certified pressure test was undertaken to ensure that no defects were evident in the installed pipe and that all outstanding sections of the pipeline could be tied together and readied for commissioning.”

Before the scheme, potable water was used for irrigation and dairy yard wash down, but calls from community to reclaim wastewater prompted Shoalhaven City Council to focus on establishing the network, Horner said.

“REMS was developed by Shoalhaven Water in response to a community desire for greater reuse of the water resources in the region,” he said.

“The aim has been to replace potable water usage with appropriate fit-for-use reclaimed water where possible, and to reduce the amount of water discharged into environmental waterways.”

Shoalhaven City Council CEO Stephen Dunshea said the IPWEA accolade is a welcome recognition of the council’s commitment to ensuring a happy and healthy community moving forward.

“The importance of great infrastructure in the health, wealth and happiness of our community cannot be overestimated,” Dunshea said.

“Shoalhaven Water developed the REMS ... to reduce potable water consumption, minimise the impacts of a rapidly expanding population and drought, and to protect our unique and valuable environment.”