The implementation of a precinct scale stormwater harvesting system in an urban environment, with minimal interruption to existing uses, has been highly commended at the 2014 Sustainability Awards.

Designed by Cardno, Urban Initiatives and Jones & Whitehead, in collaboration with the City of Melbourne, the Birrarung Marr Stormwater Harvesting & Landscape Integration Project was praised by the awards judges in the Landscape Design category.

“Inner city land restoration projects usually have a high level of difficulty, and Birrarung Marr is no exception,” said the jury.

“The project partners have achieved a very technical standard, and at the same time improved both the aesthetic of the Yarra bank and the amenity of this important site.”

The stormwater harvesting project is different to typical projects of its type, in that the water storage had to be sited separately, at some distance, from the point where the drainage system is diverted or accessed. The diversion point is adjacent to the river, at the lowest point of the park.

Siting on the open upper terrace of Birrarung Marr was necessary because of a range of site conditions, including pre-existing soil contamination, groundwater levels and saline conditions adjacent to the river, and the requirement for a large clear area where underground storage could be accommodated. The stormwater therefore must be pumped uphill to the storage tank.

The renewed landscape of this upper terrace now conceals this 2.5 megalitre underground tank, which is equal in size to an Olympic pool.

The project was one of six finalists in the Landscape Design category, with the top prize going to Prince Alfred Park & Pool.

26 April 2013

18 June 2013

6 August 2013

1 November 2013

Key initiatives:

  • The capture, treatment and reuse of approximately 35 million litres of stormwater annually (runoff from 37 hectares of Melbourne’s CBD). The runoff water is diverted to the storage tank, and through a bio-retention filter bed set on the highest ground of the upper terrace. This filtered water drains under gravity to a 500kL reuse tank below, where it is stored for irrigation. Final irrigation water is UV disinfected before use
  • A high output system (large volumes treated) on a relatively small, well designed footprint
  • The creation of an irrigation source for the long term sustainability of the 8 hectare park that will keep green the upper and middle terraces of Birrarung Marr, the historic landscape of Speaker’s Comer and the trees along the banks of the Yarra River
  • The integration of a large water processing facility into a high amenity value, major urban park
  • Creating a visible landscape feature in the form of the formal bio-filtration bed, set on a commanding terrace at the top of the park
  • Capitalising on the insertion of this infrastructure by redesigning the upper terrace landscape for improved amenity and better connections in the park.

Photography by Drew Echberg

Click here to see all the winners and commendations for 2014. You can also view articles on all the finalists in the Landscape category here.

Check out all 70 finalists in the interactive video below: