While Level 2 water restrictions have been introduced across Sydney, there is one community in Box Hill that will still be able to wash their cars, hose down the driveway and maintain their gardens.

With the official opening of a new recycled water treatment plant, The Gables in Box Hill is demonstrating how it’s possible to save precious potable water resources and maintain an oasis of green even in NSW’s crippling drought conditions.

Spread across 290 hectares in The Hills district within Sydney’s North West Growth Corridor, The Gables is a masterplanned community with 500 homes currently occupied by more than 1,000 residents. At completion, there will be 4,500 homes and around 12,000 residents.

Opened by representatives from developer Celestino and Flow Systems, Australia's first sustainable water utility, the recycled water treatment plant – the first for a greenfield site – is helping The Gables community reduce their use of potable water by about 70 per cent. While the residents will continue to rely on Sydney Water for drinking water and bathing, recycled water from the treatment plant will allow them to carry out other domestic tasks without being subject to the same tough water restrictions as the rest of Sydney.

Observing that the new plant represented the visionary thinking necessary to adapt to NSW’s drought conditions, Celestino chief executive John Vassallo says, “It’s critical when planning new communities that both Government and the private sector make sustainable long-term investments in water. When we planned The Gables some five years ago, Sydney’s dams were full, so there was little interest from Government in recycled water for our new community. But Celestino took the view that it simply wasn’t good enough to waste drinking (potable) water and do nothing to conserve waste water from homes.”

Ryan Allen, who moved into The Gables six months ago, says, “As a landscaper, I understand the difference a healthy garden can make to a home. We are all aware of how dry everything is, so being able to irrigate without guilt or being fined is a huge plus for The Gables.”

The $16-million water treatment plant currently has a one-megalitre per day capacity, and will deliver recycled water to households in The Gables for use in watering gardens and open spaces, washing vehicles, hosing down hard surfaces, suppressing dust, running the washing machine, and flushing toilets.

The next stage of development will have a projected recycled water use of two megalitres per day.

Designed to meet both current and future needs of the expanding community, the water recycling plant will continue to serve the community for many years.

“This water centre will deliver benefits to our community, the broader Sydney community and the environment for many years to come. We believe such water centres are the future for western Sydney and, although they are generally supported by Government, there are many areas where approval and delivery of such vital infrastructure could be streamlined, supported and incentivised. If the process is faster, cheaper and more certain, recycled water will become the norm rather than the exception. It’s a no brainer,” Vassallo added. 

Image: Supplied / Celestino Development Director Matthew Scard(left) and CEO John Vassallo.