An artist's impression of Aquarevo.

A game-changing approach to managing water and sewerage services is set to get the go-ahead in a new housing estate in south-east Melbourne.

Water utility South East Water has partnered with developer Villawood Properties to showcase sustainable water-saving technologies at a 460-home estate known as Aquarevo, which is being planned for Lyndhurst on the site of a decommissioned water purification plant owned by South East Water.

The unique collaboration – a first for South East Water – will draw on the utility’s expertise in water innovation and smart technology to deliver sustainable homes.

South East Water group manager for capital delivery Terry Dalgleish said Villawood was chosen from 15 developers following an exhaustive selection process.

“We had all the major players, which was good,” he said. “We tried to choose a developer that brought with them a model that would make it work for them and for us … more importantly we wanted to choose a developer who is green or has a real interest in terms of sustainability.”

Water-saving features at Aquarevo will include:

  • wastewater that is recycled to a Class A standard at an on-site treatment plant and sent back to each home for use in the garden, washing machine or toilet
  • a OneBox device that controls the development’s modern pressure sewer system and manages flow to the treatment plant so it can run more efficiently
  • a 2000-litre rainwater tank for every home to feed the hot water system, which will draw its energy from warmth in the air

Mr Dalgleish said the estate-wide approach to water saving and water recycling was unique.

“If you think about rainwater to hot water, for example, that happens all around farms and rural parts of Australia but we have never done that in an urban environment before,” he said.

South East Water design manager Eamon Casey said the team had put a lot of detail into the water balance for the development.

“We are looking at a potable drinking water saving of 70 per cent – that is contingent, of course, on rainwater to hot water and recycled water usage within normal household patterns.”

Mr Casey said the modern pressure sewer system would be managed with the OneBox controller to utilise the storage of individual tanks to manage flow to the treatment plant.

“That way we reduce the overall peak flows to the treatment plant through the day so that makes the treatment process smoother, easier and reduces the hydraulic capacity requirements for that treatment plant,” he said. “So we are going to take those advantages in the collection system to optimise the size of the treatment plant.”

The utility has undertaken a tender process for the plant technology and has preselected two suitable technologies with different front-end treatment processes but very similar Class A elements in accordance with health guidelines. The tender process is close to completion and either process would be housed with a very small footprint, equivalent to one lot in size.

“All the recycled water is fed back into the properties through the third pipe system and we are using that for irrigation, toilet flushing and laundry,” Mr Casey said. “To close the loop.”

The waste will be discharged via a pumping station to a local sewer. However, if the site was more remote, it would be pumped to an appropriate site for further treatment.

“The idea is that we are proving a concept here so that it can be used in many different locations,” Mr Casey said. “In this case we are fortunate enough that we can pump to a sewer.”

The estate’s rainwater tanks will feature technology that receives weather forecasts then releases water before heavy rainfall so the tank can then capture stormwater and minimise overflow or flooding. This, in addition to the site’s modern pressure sewer system, will have a big impact on reducing pressure on the local sewerage network.

“We remove all infiltration from the network so we won’t have any stormwater contributions by the nature of the sewer system and by the nature of our controller,” Mr Casey said. “It reduces the size of the downstream network required.”

Other sustainable features of Aquarevo include the opportunity for residents to:

  • join Lyndhurst Community Power – a community owned business that will install solar panels and a modern home-energy management system
  • monitor daily water and energy use on an in-home device or through a smart phone/tablet app so they can actively change their behaviour and usage

Earthworks will begin in the next few months once a planning permit is received from the City of Casey.

“There’s a couple of conditions there they want to satisfy before there’ll issue the planning permit,” Mr Dalgleish said. “We have almost got to the point where that has been resolved.”

According to Mr Dalgleish, the utility is keen to provide water-efficient technology solutions for more new developments in the future.

“One of the intentions of doing this and proving that it can work is to move it up a level, and around Australia,” he said. “We are having discussions with developers who are working with sewerage at the moment and we are keen to provide solutions.”

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  1. Can you provide more information about how the hot water is created and how the Rain water tank is linked to the hot water heating system and whether this hot water is available in the laundry as well as the kitchen and the bathroom.
    What happens if rainwater in the 2000 litre tank becomes contaminated/ unavailable because of a chemical spray or bird droppings? How does the back up work to provide safe water to the hot water points at the kitchen,laundry and bathroom?
    Why is the rainwater tank so small?
    I will look forward to receiving information on these questions.
    John Hancock

  2. Hi, can I inquire what are the sizes of the lot and corresponding price. Thanks.