20 October 2023

National Water Week spotlight series: Matthew Sullivan

National Water Week is making a splash across Australia this week with this year’s theme, ‘United by Water’. Taking place from October 16-22, National Water Week encourages individuals, communities, schools and organisations to be inspired to promote the importance of water.

At BMD, we’re making major waves in the water and wastewater sector which is why we’re excited to shine a spotlight on our people working across our many water projects nationally.

We have a long history of delivering effective and resilient water and wastewater infrastructure projects and our specialist teams work with our clients to offer industry leading technologies and treatment processes.

Meet Matthew, Project Manager on the Baldivis Pump Station and to celebrate National Water Week we asked him a few questions about the project and working in the water sector.

Q: Why is the Baldivis project a vital piece of infrastructure for the area?

A: At the moment, an existing Pump Station (PS) is operating in excess of 8-9hr/day, which risks surcharging into the current sewer network. Due to population growth, an upgrade is required.

The Baldivis project provides an upgraded pumping capacity for the network and will allow the entire flow from the area to be sent to the a nearby WWTP and eventually via the currently under constructed East Rockingham Waste to Energy facility.

This solution will deliver a cost-effective waste treatment solution and a vital source of dispatchable renewable energy to the community.

Q: Why are projects like this one important in ensuring access to clean and reliable water for communities?

A: Given the wide-spread population base of Perth, projects such as Baldivis represent the acknowledgement for a sustainable handling of wastewater, not only into recycled drinking water but also into renewable energy sources for the Perth community.

Q: How do civil construction engineers ensure that water infrastructure projects are designed to be resilient in the face of climate change and extreme weather events?

A: The key focus is ensuring not only structural capability but also that a structure that is durable to withstand all climate and weather events. The infrastructure on Baldivis has an allocated a 100-year design life, which means that structures will have some parameters boosted. For example, concrete cover is increased to ensure corrosion of steel reinforcement is prevented over the pump station’s lifespan.

Q: What sustainable construction practices and technologies are being utilised to minimise the environmental impact of water infrastructure projects?

A: Two key practices Baldivis employs are dewatering effluent management and acid sulphate soil management.

Any excavated material is generally deemed as acid sulphate contaminated. To avoid sending it to landfill, the material is treated with aglime to neutralise the soil and re-use for backfill.

Q: What are the main challenges faced in designing and building sustainable and resilient water infrastructure?

A: Pump stations are generally focused at low points, which attracts high-water ground conditions. Because of these conditions, we need further design analysis and stronger support systems for any sort of temporary works involved with earth retaining structures in order to undertake construction of the works.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring civil construction engineers who are interested in working on a water project like Baldivis?

A: The Baldivis project provides a complete deck of multiple engineering disciples in a complex and challenging manner, whether it be earthworks, structures, pipe laying, commissioning – you name it, this project has it!

This project engages the very essence of what engineering is all about by engaging and challenging a team to plan and execute some unique construction practices away from the status quo to achieve the required outcomes and allows civil construction engineers to take away a more capable mindset to future project challenges.

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