Sydney Water has taken out Project of the Year at the Global Water Awards in London – an annual event that gathers water industry leaders and showcases their best in-class solutions – for its Refresh Woolloomooloo project (pictured). 

The 2021 Wastewater Project of the Year award recognises the wastewater project, commissioned during 2020, that shows the greatest innovation in terms of optimising its physical or environmental footprint.

Innovative technologies, collaboration with external partners and engagement with the Woolloomooloo community paved the way for the development of a new wastewater system that keeps Sydney Harbour free of wastewater overflows during wet weather.

Sydney Water’s Managing Director, Roch Cheroux, said Refresh Woolloomooloo was one of just four projects to make the global shortlist out of numerous submissions, expressing his congratulations to those involved.

“We are honoured to receive international recognition for our world-class water services,” Mr Cheroux said.

“It’s our mission to collaborate with our partners, customers and communities to deliver better outcomes and support a thriving, liveable and sustainable city.

“Refresh Woolloomooloo has been one of Sydney Water’s largest and most complex projects in eastern Sydney. 

“This is a massive win for all of those who helped transform a wastewater system that dated back to the 1800s into modern and sustainable infrastructure that can service the city well into the future. That includes the community who have supported this project and shared our vision for a cleaner, safer Sydney Harbour.

“We’ve improved the liveability of the area and minimised stormwater impacts on Sydney’s magnificent harbour, as well as enhanced its water quality and improved the environment for marine life.

“The completion of the project also resulted in the elimination of odours that impacted thousands of customers at times.”

Mr Cheroux said Sydney Water put in place a robust community engagement program before and during the project which enabled better outcomes.

“As an organisation that holds our customers at the heart, our teams consistently and proactively engaged with our stakeholders and the community to understand their needs and concerns, we developed alternative options, and identified and implemented real-time solutions,” Mr Cheroux said. 

“Key to this success was allowing the community to have hands-on ownership of key project decisions and outcomes. As part of the ongoing connection to the local community, Sydney Water also constructed a nature playground at one of the local public schools.”

Mr Cheroux added that Sydney Water’s vision is to create a better life with world-class water services.

“Water is not just a commodity, water is life, we must respect and value it.” 

The project involved separating Sydney’s last combined wastewater and stormwater system in the Woolloomooloo area. Approximately 4.2km of new wastewater pipe was laid adjacent to the existing combined pipe. The new pipe now captures and transfers overflows in the Woolloomooloo catchment into a separate treatment plant.

An additional 650m of stormwater pipe was installed, connecting more than 200 properties to the new wastewater pipe, and 95 new maintenance holes were constructed. This separation has also eliminated wafted odours during the dry weather.


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