Gippsland Water earns three environmental awards

Thursday, 17 November, 2011

Australia’s Gippsland Water has won three 2011 Banksia Environmental Awards, including the prestigious Origin Gold Banksia Award, for the Gippsland Water Factory project.

The Gippsland Water Factory also won in the Water category and its Vortex Centre and associated ‘Water Wonders’ education program won in the Education category.

CH2M HILL was a member of the alliance, along with Gippsland Water, Transfield Services and Parsons Brinkerhoff, that provided project management, design, construction and operations services for the Gippsland Water Factory. In addition, CH2M HILL, New Media Magic, LLC, Pico Chicago and Melbourne and DesignInc were the collaborating partners with Gippsland Water for the creative design and delivery of the visitor experience at the Vortex.

The Banksias are Australia’s pre-eminent environmental excellence awards, celebrating the achievements of those who have made a significant contribution to the sustainable future of the county through leadership and innovation.

The Origin Gold Banksia Award is the most esteemed of the Banksias, with the winner having been selected from the winners of the Banksia Category Awards.

The Gippsland Water Factory is an innovative wastewater treatment and recycling system in the Gippsland region of Victoria. It uses state-of-the-art technology, including biological treatment, membrane filtration, and reverse osmosis, to treat nearly 9.3 mgd (35 ML/d) of domestic and industrial wastewater and produces 2 to 3 mgd (8 to 12 ML/d) of high-quality recycled water for use by local industry.

Green engineering principles and design were incorporated throughout the project, including co-generation of energy from the biogas generated by anaerobic treatment (330 kW) and also a MicroHydro station (340 kW) that captures energy from a large clean water stream that feeds into the clean water reservoir. The electricity powers operations and minimises environmental impacts.

According to the Banksia Environmental Foundation, “Gippsland Water Factory turned conventional wastewater treatment on its head… for outstanding innovation in resolving a significant intransigent regional environmental problem and turning it into a net environmental positive, with substantive engagement of stakeholders across all communities, Banksia judges applaud the Gippsland Water Factory."

The Banksia Water Award is given to a project that demonstrates "leadership and innovation in assuring continued environment and community access, both today and by future generations, to quality freshwater resources and vibrant marine environments."

The Banksia Environmental Foundation said, “The judges found this [Gippsland Water Factory] to be a very effective example of community and political engagement that is underpinned by technology-based thought leadership. It delivers an engineering solution with some excitement and vision - a result that allows the region to further develop its local agriculture and industry in an environmentally sustainable manner. This is an inspiring and impressive result.”

The Banksia Education Award is presented to a project that demonstrates “leadership and innovation in lifting awareness, improving understanding, advancing social and community consciousness of sustainability issues and educating to achieve real, tangible outcomes.”

The Vortex Centre is an innovative community educational facility based at the Gippsland Water Factory and plays a key role in delivering Gippsland Water’s vision to create an environmental and social legacy through its new education program, ’Water Wonders,’ both for students, the local community and water stakeholders.

Featuring interactive displays, touch-screens and videos, it focuses on water conservation and sustainable water management; highlighting water as a precious resource at a local, state, national and global level.

“The Gippsland Water Factory is the first of its kind in Australia, highlighting Gippsland Water as a leader in sustainability and delivering a range of benefits for the Gippsland region,” said David Middleton, MEL, CH2M HILL’s Australia and New Zealand Regional Water Business Group Manager.

“These awards formally recognise how important Gippsland Water’s holistic approach is in addressing long-term water resource management needs, as recycling water benefits local industry, the environment, and the community. The interpretive Vortex Centre has played a key role in educating all ages of the public in order to deliver Gippsland Water’s vision. We are proud to have been a part of the alliance that delivered this innovative, award-winning project.”

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