Inlet Chamber Post remediation

By Rebecca Todesco, Pump Industry Magazine

Just like humans, infrastructure is not immune to the ravages of time, and as the population grows and expands, ageing infrastructure finds itself in need of upgrades and improvements to keep up. Here we explore how Hunter Water is giving a new lease on life to one of the oldest pump stations in the region.

The population in towns across Australia has grown exponentially in recent years and, as such, the infrastructure delivering critical services to these towns and populations needs to adjust and improve to better supply the towns they service. One structure that fit the bill for an upgrade was the Newcastle West 1 Wastewater Pump Station (WWPS), which after serving the community by transporting wastewater from Newcastle and surrounding suburbs to Burwood Wastewater Treatment Plant, was overdue for a refurbishment.

Constructed in 1909 and located next to Marketown Shopping Centre car park, the Newcastle West 1 WWPS is one of Hunter Water’s oldest WWPSs. It services approximately 14,136 customers in the western parts of the Newcastle CBD as well as the suburbs of Adamstown, Broadmeadow, Hamilton, Islington, Mayfield, New Lambton, Tighes Hill and Wickham.

Following successful preparatory work being carried out in late-2022, Hunter Water commenced work on upgrading the Newcastle West 1 WWPS in July 2023, with Upgrade of Inlet Well and Overflow Chamber and Installation of new odour control unit completed in November 2023. The full scope of works is expected to be completed in Jan 2024.

Prior to the commencement of upgrade works, the surrounding community was made aware of the possibility of some odour and noise, along with movement of personnel and construction vehicles while the upgrade took place. Additionally, some areas of the Marketown West car park were fenced off and unavailable to the public for the duration of the project.

Hunter Water advised Marketown management, nearby residents and tenants and maintained frequent contact with them, assuring the community that it would make every effort to reduce the impacts as much as possible.

Sniffing out a solution for odour control

As with many ageing pump stations, it was imperative that the Newcastle West 1 WWPS keep up with the increasing population and growing need. The area around Newcastle West, and more specifically near Marketown, has played host to substantial redevelopment over the last five to eight years, including the construction of several multi-storey residential apartment buildings to the north and east of Newcastle West 1 WWPS.

According to Hunter Water’s Executive Manager Customer Delivery, Glen Robinson, the significant development around the WWPS corresponded with an increase of odour complaints from local residents in the high-rise apartments. “In addition to the odour complaints, there were asset condition and reliability related issues at the WWPS,” Mr Robinson said. “Once fully complete, these upgrades will improve amenity, support future population growth and extend the life of the pump station.”

The upgrade is intended to reduce future maintenance, improve the existing pump station fixtures, improve amenities and support population growth in the area. Mr Robinson said that a key part of Hunter Water’s strategy is to provide great services to its customers, consumers and communities.

“After carrying out condition assessments on Newcastle West 1 Wastewater Pumping Station and listening to customers feedback we developed project objectives for the upgrade to ensure we could continue to provide great services to our community. “Our objectives for the upgrade were to address odour-related issues associated with the site and to enable future maintenance and operation of the inlet chamber and restoration of civil components for fifty years.”

Mr Robinson said that Hunter Water also wanted to ensure that it was providing safe, reliable and efficient wastewater services that protected the natural environment and made use of natural resources efficiently and sustainably. The scope of the project included the removal of the 27-metre-high wooden vent stack – which Hunter Water completed in November 2022. The upgrade works saw the installation of a permanent odour control unit on the site and vent stack to reduce odour related issues associated with the site.

“We are also remediating the inlet chamber, which includes decommissioning penstocks and replacing them with new penstocks, restoring internal walls of the inlet chamber and replacing the roof slab of the inlet chamber,” Mr Robinson said. “By restoring the inlet chamber, we have ensured a critical asset within our community remains operational for the next fifty years.”

Overcoming barriers and benefiting the community

Mr Robinson said the major challenge associated with the work was the bypassing involved to allow isolation of the Inlet Chamber. “The Inlet Chamber has four different Inflow points connecting the network to the inlet chamber. These included a 150-gravity main, a 225-gravity main, a 200-rising main and a 1450-Oviform main.

“The oviform main proved the most challenging of the inflow points to bypass given the size of the main, the oviform being constructed in the early 1900’s made of bricks which provided a poor seal for plugs and having an average dry weather flow rate of 160L per second.”

Mr Robinson said that Hunter Water had to manage the installation of plugs in the oviform around confined space while also ensuring the temporary bypass diesel pump set could handle increased flows during a wet weather event.

“Fitting all the temporary bypass pumps and equipment in a busy city precinct also proved to have its challenges and Hunter Water is very appreciative of the understanding from the community of the temporary impacts to deliver the upgrade. Mr Robinson said Hunter Water worked hard to overcome these challenges by consulting with specialists and contractors that had experience carrying out bypassing of this scale.

“Throughout the entirety of the project we have maintained open communication with our community, local businesses and stakeholders so we could minimise the effects as much as possible.” The upgrade is set to improve liveability for nearby residents and the general public around Newcastle by minimising the release of odours from the site, as well as enabling the ongoing operation and maintenance of a critical Hunter Water Asset that services the community.

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