At the Fore of Sustainability: Sydney authority wins award for water scheme

An award-winning Sydney water harvesting initiative shows that a project doesn't have to be complex to be effective.

THE Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority is saving 4.5 million litres of water a year by harvesting water from the roof of the Sydney Entertainment Centre car park.

The water is used to irrigate parks and gardens in the surrounding area.

The initiative has netted the Foreshore Authority the Tourism & Transport Forum corporate leadership award for corporate social responsibility.

Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority chief executive officer Dr Rob Lang said the award was significant because it recognised the time and effort put into the project.

"But I think it's more important to act as a demonstration to others that this is actually not hard to do, and there are any number of buildings in the CBD that have roof spaces where water can quite readily be captured," Dr Lang said.

He said one of the project's attractions was that it was a very simple system.

"It just uses ordinary gravity; there are no moving parts. It collects the water off the 8000-square-metre roof … and it just by gravity feeds down into 600 kilolitre tanks on the ground at the bottom of the car park," he said.

"So it's collected there instead of just simply going into the normal rainwater/groundwater drainage system."

The project received a $135,000 grant from Sydney Water, and cost $850,000 overall.

Dr Lang said one inspiration for the initiative was that the Foreshore Authority realised it was one of Sydney's biggest water users.

"We think it's part of our responsibility as a public authority to be a leader in sustainability," Dr Lang said.

"If you want a place to continue to exist for many generations to come, you've really got to take a pretty high-profile view about what is sustainable and what's not."

This article first appeared in Business Community Intelligence, February 2007