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Case Study: Bega Valley Shire Council

Background

Manage the environmental and community aspects of the Bega Valley Shire Council’s program to build five new village sewerage systems and five treatment plant upgrades

Our Approach

Bega Valley is a rural shire 311 miles south of Sydney, Australia. At US$71 million, the Bega Valley Sewerage Program (BVSP) comprised five new village sewerage systems plus five treatment plant upgrades.

The alliance-based contract which characterized this project, required ERM to work with infrastructure services company Tenix Alliance and the Bega Valley Shire Council to implement the BVSP.  Alliance contracts foster a cooperative approach and provide the scope for significant bonuses if projects meet Key Performance Indicators (KPI).

From its commencement in 2003, ERM was responsible for the environmental and community aspects of the BVSP, with over 50 technical staff in Sydney, Hunter Valley and Melbourne offices involved over the course of the project. 

In preparing 11 Environmental Impact Assessments, ERM encountered common environmental issues as well as state-listed wetlands, a coastal estuary, sensitive archaeological sites and a matter of potential national environmental significance, requiring referral under the Australian Government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

Engagement was vital, to get the community on board a world-first technology combination of low pressure sewerage system and membrane bio reactor solution.  This meant that every house needed its own pump and new user charges applied.

ERM involved the community in the program’s approval, design and construction.  This saw ERM work with local media, train six Community Engagement staff, run resident education shop fronts, coordinate 40 newsletters and information sessions and contribute to a comprehensive information website.

ERM also assisted with the implementation of each scheme within the BVSP through the delivery of a Hazard and Critical Control Point (HACCP) identification process and the preparation of Operation Environmental Management Plans and user agreements.

Benefits and Value

This scope of works was delivered within time, budget and KPI parameters. By gaining early, sequential approvals, ERM minimized construction costs and performed ahead of all key performance targets set in the contract. The BVSP was also awarded a commendation by Engineers Australia through their annual Engineering Excellence Awards.

Through the implementation of new technology, BVSP will deliver approximately 50 percent reclaimed water reuse for the majority of the schemes and significantly improve other environmental outcomes.