Stormwater Recovery For A Healthy Sydney

By Christopher Rochfort 18 October, 2019

Every drop counts. Can we learn from Star Water's projects to clean stormwater for reuse in Sydney? Their CEO Rochfort shares

Since 1988, Star Water has initiated projects using their Advanced Biofiltration Technology (ABT) to clean stormwater that flows into Sydney Harbour & to recover water resources
E.g., the Stormwater Treatment & Reuse (STAR) System at Manly Beach facilitates stormwater capture, treatment & reuse - saving the local council AU$50k p.a. on green land watering
Also, Sydney's Rain Gardens support plant growth with treated stormwater even in extreme drought; while Annadale's bioretention basin cleans & discharges stormwater with 0 power usage

Since 1998, Star Water has initiated projects using Advanced Biofiltration Technology (ABT) to clean stormwater that flows into Sydney Harbour and to recover water resources for beneficial reuse. These projects spreading from Sydney inner west to eastern suburbs are established with Star Water’s Advanced Biofiltration Technology.

Star Water’s engineered biofiltration media Reactive Filter Media® (RFM®) was deployed to remove pollutants & reuse stormwater

The projects were designed to improve the quality of stormwater contributing to waterways and coastal waters and provide an attractive natural feature. Star Water’s engineered biofiltration media Reactive Filter Media® (RFM®) was deployed to all the projects to meeting clients’ requirements on assets, pollutants removal and stormwater reuse. Below are three successful case studies.

1. Stormwater Treatment and Reuse (STAR) Systems Application, Manly, Sydney

Stormwater Treatment and Reuse (STAR) System at Manly Beach is an integrated system for stormwater capture, treatment and reuse, containing Star Water’s renowned RFM®. The STAR systems combine biofiltration treatment for run-off pollutants and underground water storage modules, providing non-potable water supply for small- or large-scale urban, commercial or industrial developments.

Manly STAR system saves the local council AU$ 50,000 p.a. on water cost for green land watering

Manly STAR system saves the local council AU$ 50,000 p.a. on water cost for green land watering. STAR systems are based on water sensitive urban design and sustainability principles using minimal energy for treatment and maximising the use of ecological components in manufacture.

2. Street Rain Gardens Application 

Star Water dedicated to the Sydney City Rain Garden retrofit and construction projects in multi-locations. RFM® were applied to these small scale vegetated bioretention systems (Rain Gardens) to improve stormwater quality and support substantial plant growth. Some gardens were under monitoring for water quality which proves good removal of suspended solids, nutrients (e.g. nitrogen, phosphorous), metals (e.g. copper, lead, zinc) and pathogens from effluent.

Rain gardens were still thriving despite extreme drought

Sydney experienced extreme drought period for over 12 months from mid-2017 with a few weeks’ high temperatures (up to 40°C), Rain gardens with RFM® were still thriving with no watering activity.

3. Bioretention Basin Application

Leichhardt Council was to improve the quality of local waterways by demonstrating quality stormwater management practices. Star Water collaboratively designed and supplied customised RFM® for this bioretention basin which located at Whites Creek Valley Park at the corner of Smith and Gillies St, Annandale.

The project involves conveying stormwater collected from one of Leichhardt Councils’ Annandale drainage sub-catchments and channelling the contaminated stormwater into an infiltration basin located in an adjacent park. The integrated grey infrastructure of the bioretention removes gross litter, grass clippings, animal droppings, and infiltration material (RFM®) removes various soluble contaminants including heavy metals and hydrocarbons etc.

The integrated grey infrastructure of the bioretention removes gross litter, grass clippings, animal droppings…

…& infiltration material (RFM®) removes various soluble contaminants – all requiring no power supply

The infiltrated water is then collected in a layer of drainage cells made from recycled plastic and directed back into Whites Creek Channel. The system is fully gravitationally operated and requires no power supply and consequently is energy efficient. The environmental significance is that the channel discharges into Rozelle Bay that flows into Sydney Harbour.


Further Reading

  • “Basin Winner”: A Sustainable Education Board Game – Managing rivers and balancing trade-offs can be difficult but ‘Basin Winner’ makes it a lot more fun. The game’s co-developer Zhiqiang Chen from Greencity shares more on pilots and next steps
  • Blue Peace Index 2019 – Water is a geopolitical risk. What is the real state of transboundary river cooperation? What are the best practices? Economist Intelligence Unit’s Matus Samel & Beth Warne introduce the Blue Peace Index (BPI) which explores these issues in 5 basins across 24 countries
  • Building Flood Resilience For Hong Kong – HK is the rainiest city in the Pacific Rim and with the threat of climate change, it’s heading for a wetter future. The Drainage Services Department’s senior engineer Patrick Chan shares the city’s strategies to improve flood resilience
  • Rising Drought Risks In The Era Of Climate Crisis – With agriculture and power most at risk from drought, what should businesses do? Can individuals push them to action? We sat down with Juliane Vatter from WWF as she expands from their latest report
  • 3 Takeaways From The Fortune Global Sustainability Forum – Green is growing up with innovations for food, renewables, plastics and more on show but as China Water Risk’s Woody Chan reviews in his takeaways, there are still gaps to be filled before “business unusual” really comes to life
  • Recycled Organics: Protecting Water In Sydney’s Food Bowl – CORE is protecting Sydney’s foodbowl with its Sustainable Amendments for Agriculture (SAFA) Program based on using recycled organics, which benefit the land & farmers. CORE’s Chief Executive, Christopher Rochfort, expands
  • Environmental Watering In The Murray-Darling Basin – Megan McLeod from the Alliance for Water Stewardship explores how the Renmark Irrigation Trust benefits the Murray-Darling Basin by providing environmental watering, enhancing biodiversity and promoting tourism
  • Harvesting Hong Kong’s Rain – Given HK relies on China for 70-80% of its water, Angel Wong of AECOM explains how harvesting HK’s rain can turn cities into catchment areas
  • 2018 World Water Week: Key Takeaways – World Water Week 2018 saw exciting issues discussed from financing nature-based solutions to advancing water stewardship & valuing water. Check out more in our key takeaways from China Water Risk’s Woody Chan & Yuanchao Xu

Christopher Rochfort
Author: Christopher Rochfort
Christopher Rochfort is a qualified horticulturist and the co-founder and Chief Executive of The Centre for Organic Research and Enterprises (CORE). Previously, Christopher had worked in local government, owned a wholesale nursery and retail garden centre before establishing one of Australia’s first composting facilities dedicated to recycled organics. Christopher has also had a major involvement in the development of the resource recovery, horticulture and water industries in Australia and internationally. Since establishing CORE in 1996, Christopher has undertaken numerous projects and programs involving the collection/diversion, processing and marketing of recycled materials. Christopher has an extensive understanding of the aspects required to introduce successful recycling programs from kerbside to market. Chris is a committee member on multiple Australian Standards committees, is a member of the Australian Institute of Horticulture and is currently developing standards for biofiltration of stormwater and other surface run-off. Chris was invited as a panellist in 2014 to the United Nations Water Crisis forum held in New York and invited by the Nanjing Government to address the 2019 Tech Week Forum.
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