Central Park,
Central Park, Sydney

Central Park at Broadway in Sydney in the Central Station precinct has long held the crown for high “optics” sustainability, especially in its early days as a high achieving green project, and later for its lush green walls that seem to spread Singapore-like week by week.

Now Central Park has apparently reached another first for sustainability. This one far less visually obvious.

It’s an underground system that transfers recycled water from Central Park to the University of Technology Central building, directly across the road, under a purchase agreement between the two properties so the water can be used for toilet flushing and landscaping.

The project is significant because it’s believed to be the first time that such a purchase agreement has been reached to share recycled water with another nearby property owner.

It’s the precinct model that we talked about in our Surround Sound for Sustainable Precincts in 2014 and the salon we held around the same topic.

The man who’s worked to achieve the complex agreements necessary for this is Terry Leckie, founder of Flow Systems, which recently signed up an agreement with Sekisui House to supply an embedded network for energy and gas at The Orchards at Norwest that will save residents about 35 per cent of regular costs for these fuels.

(Flow Systems was sponsor at our sustainable precinct events as well as our recent Tomorrowland 2018.)

According to UTS the recycled water system is a boon for the university because it allows for reduced potable water consumption, creates some redundancy ahead of the next inevitable water shortages in Sydney and saves on costly and scarce space if retention tanks were used instead.

The project builds on an existing contract between Central Park and UTS for a district cooling system to the UTS Central Plant to run air conditioning in UTS buildings.

The move is part of UTS’s ambitions to expand its campus with buildings that achieve high green standards, part of a campus masterplan for more than $1billion in development that has included two 5 Star and one 6 Star certified Green Star buildings.

Flow Systems water recycling plant was constructed as part of Frasers’ Central Park development to provide water, wastewater and water recycling services to businesses and residents in the precinct.

Water is collected from rainwater, roofs, local storm water and sewage systems, to ensure the supply is drought proof.

UTS said key features of the Central Park UTS precinct recycled water scheme include:

  • The Flow Systems’ Water Factor has the capacity to produce 1000 kL of recycled water each day – enough to fill nearly three olympic-size swimming pools each week. This is more than the recycled water needs of the Central Park precinct, providing extra capacity that can be used
  • UTS has signed on as a customer to purchase recycled water, to use for landscaping and toilet flushing in the new UTS Central building. Other uses are also being considered. We expect the use at UTS to be around 20,000 kilolitres a year so potable water use will be reduced by eight Olympic swimming pools each year
  • This is the first time that a water recycling project has signed up a customer outside of its immediate precinct. Usually these water recycling systems are set up within a development and service only that development. This kind of partnership gives greater value to the water recycling project, making it more tenable
  • To enable the water to be delivered, horizontal direction drills were used to burrow under Broadway, then pipes were pulled through and connected to the basement of our UTS Central building
  • The alternative was to install rainwater tanks – which use a lot of space and require upfront capital costs. Rainwater tanks are also not a reliable source of water in drought conditions, like those currently experienced in NSW and other parts of Australia
  • The recycled water plant at Central Park collects grey water from a range of sources, as well as rainwater, so is more reliable than rainwater
  • The project helps to take pressure of the regional potable water supply, as toilet flushing won’t require potable water
  • The model sets a precedent for innovative water recycling partnerships in urban contexts

UTS Deputy Vice Chancellor (Resources) Patrick Woods said, “the University is committed to strengthening partnerships with our local community, and this includes partnering with innovative businesses in our area.

“With many parts of NSW facing drought conditions, water recycling projects that reduce potable water use are more important than ever. In an urban context they have the potential to increase the resilience of neighbourhoods, providing continuous water supply even in dry conditions, while easing the pressure on the regional water network.”

UTS green infrastructure project manager, Jonathan Prendergast said, “Installing retention tanks to capture water requires money and space. With water recycling already in operation across the road, it made much more sense to tap into Flow Systems’ existing facility.”

“While water recycling and production of non-potable water can be constant across the year, demand by Central Park buildings can be variable.

“The UTS demand will complement Central Park’s demand, so water recycling can occur more consistently, optimise the plant and maximise the production and use of recycled water.”

Flow Systems managing director Terry Leckie said UTS’s energy and water story was “remarkable”.

“Due to the dense nature of their campus in Broadway, they have had to find new ways to achieve sustainability. While we have many customers of our recycled water services in our precincts around NSW, this is the first time we have signed up a customer outside a development precinct. This leadership by UTS sets a precedent for others to follow.”

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  1. In a “dry continent”, this sort of thinking is gold. Just imagine the possibilities of every new housing development in places like where I reside, Port Macquarie, used this sort of technology to collect both rain water from street drains as well as grey waster and then re issued it to the residents for use as UTS is currently doing.

    In my region, certainly, it would be of great benefit because during oft-occurring dry periods, water use restrictions are put in place.

    There is currently a lot of developments going on in the region, this area is growing at a rate of 8,000 annually so the need for this kind of thinking and action is not only paramount, it is in my view, overdue.