The $403 million North South Interconnection System Project (NSISP) is one of SA Water’s biggest infrastructure projects, with the largest geographical footprint of any project undertaken in metropolitan Adelaide. Chris Bland recently interviewed Project Director, Gary Neave.



Gary, a graduate from the University of Adelaide with a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil), is on full time secondment to SA Water from Parson Brinckerhoff where he is a Major Projects Executive. He was selected based on successful completion of the role of Deputy Project manager/Infrastructure Manager on the $420 million Jacinth Ambrosia Mineral Sands mine site project for Iluka Resources. Of particular relevance was his knowledge of program delivery across the entire project life cycle and experience the structure and development of integrated project teams for in-house delivery and risk management. He has a background in successful project delivery across most disciplines in both the public and private sector including a period as General Manager of a small to medium civil engineering construction company.

He was recently awarded AIPM National Project Director of the Year 2012, for his role in leading the NSISP.

Project scope
I asked Gary to outline the scope of the project; “The purpose of the project is to interconnect the traditionally gravity fed water distribution zones in metropolitan Adelaide, ensuring flexibility of water supply and improving the ability to manage the broader network more efficiently.

“To undertake interconnection the project was made up of a number of elements, including the construction of four major transfer pipelines, with installation in main arterial roads and suburban backstreets, totalling 32 kilometres in length. Other works include the construction of three new pump stations in the residential suburbs of Wattle Park, Clapham and Gilberton and five new valve stations in Seacliff Park, Springfield, Wattle Park, Gulfview Heights and Hope Valley. There are other installations and smaller upgrades at over 120 sites throughout the metropolitan area to integrate this new infrastructure into the existing distribution network. Given the nature and scale of the project there has been requirement for engagement with local communities to understand their views, educate the design process, and communicate effectively to manage project impacts.
Why is the project necessary?
“Water is South Australia’s most precious resource. It is critical to South Australia’s future prosperity as it underpins growth in the population and the economy. Through the Governments Water for Good strategy, a significant commitment to invest in a suite of water security measures was made, to improve and enhance the Adelaide’s water supply network. Innovative, long-term solutions had to be found to deliver the flexibility and reliability of water supply that is essential to meeting existing and future demand, while also ensuring water security during events such as prolonged drought.

“Prior to the NSISP Adelaide’s water supply network primarily operated as two separate systems – north and south. Each had its own water storage facilities and is separately augmented by pipelines from the River Murray. What does this mean? In simple terms, it means the majority of homes and businesses in the metropolitan area have had access to just one water supply source.

“This $403 million NSISP interconnects the drinking water distribution systems in metropolitan Adelaide, including providing access for the northern distribution zone to the new Adelaide desalination plant. This project has delivered flexibility and reliability of supply, enabling the majority of Adelaide to access more than one source of drinking water. Interconnection provides the foundation for resolving our water security challenges for the future and provides support for future growth in the city.”

What has been the greatest engineering challenge on the project?
“The level of architecture and landscape architecture employed on this project is unusual, however NSISP marks a shifting of the benchmark for infrastructure delivery and the level of community engagement to deliver new infrastructure in residential areas. Working collaboratively with the community provided a number of challenges especially when designing the new above-ground infrastructure. Although, input from the community helped NSISP to design a building that was appropriate for the local area, it also challenged the project team to deliver buildings that had a minimised footprint and height, and to provide a high level of acoustic attenuation to reduce potential noise from the new infrastructure.

“One element of this project was delivery of the new Clapham Pump Station, the largest SA Water facility of its kind in urban Adelaide. This was a challenge to deliver as we not only had to incorporate the community input but also deliver the building and state-of-the-art operational and control technology from the ground up in the same time it takes to build an average sized house. To the casual observer this pump station building may appear large, but in reality it is small for the role it performs and the capability it contains. It is home to five one-megawatt high-voltage pumps capable of transferring up to 100 million litres of water per day (or the equivalent of 40 Olympic size swimming pools) from the Happy Valley clear water storage to the northern suburbs via Wattle Park.”

Pump Stations
Three pump stations were being built as part of the project, I asked Gary to provide some details on these;
“The Pump Stations symbolise a shifting of the benchmark for infrastructure development in urban areas. As mentioned previously, the high level of architectural amenity, the use of natural building materials and colours, the landscaping and the technology housed within the buildings have come together as a result of the collective efforts of the community, councils, our locally-based contractors and SA Water.

“We have also set noise and sound targets for all the new pump stations that are well below industry practice. We have configured our equipment and applied technology to enable us to reduce building heights and sizes to suit their urban locations. The landscaping yet to be completed will further enhance site amenity and streetscape appeal.

“Some challenges faced by the pump station designers were;
The building footprint, which required a number of arrangement drawings and final selection included using a mix of left and right handed pumps
The noise criteria at the boundary of the site from pumps, pump motor cooling and pump control equipment cooling. Electronic equipment was cooled by refrigerative systems dissipating heat into the pump hall. The pump hall was cooled by evaporative cooling using high efficiency noise attenuators on both inlet and outlets.
The range of duties for the pumps which are required to transfer as well as supplying the network through common pipes.. Extensive modelling of the range of duties in conjunction with the control system designers confirmed the range of required duties specified.

Surge management (including the size limits) which resulted in the selection of flywheels rather than pressure vessels. The flywheels require a much smaller footprint than pressure vessels. Pressure vessels would be required on both inlet and outlet of pumps.

Preventing the use by vendors of mixed bearings for pumps and motors, potentially resulting in high maintenance and assembly issues”

What monitoring equipment are you using?
“Bearing temperature of the Motor, Flywheel & Pump will be monitored by the bearing temperature sensors.
Motor Winding Temperature will be monitored by 9 no. temperature sensors (3 per each phase).
Temperature sensors and pressure transmitters installed on the u/s and d/s of pump casing enables the P22 instrument to be connected to monitor pump efficiency.
Tachometer on the shaft to monitor the speed of the pump.
Fast Tachometer will be provided to monitor pump performance during transitions. Accelerometer will be installed to monitor the vibration.
Gilberton – IFM vibration monitors are installed.”

What were the most important factors in pump selection?
“The selection of pumps was based the need for a low operational and capital cost which can best be provided by single stage, double inlet, centrifugal pumps operating at industry standard speeds using a VSD. The minimum pump capacity was achieved by integrating the pump selection with network tank filling criteria. For larger pump motors the use of higher voltage motors minimises space through smaller equipment sizes and better cable routes.

How important is energy efficiency and how does it factor into decisions?
“Although energy efficiency is important there are a number of vendors that can supply drives and pumps of high efficiency over the required range of duties. The energy efficiency of the pipework associated with the pumps was also assessed for each pump vendor. The energy efficiency of the operating regime plays a more significant role in overall energy use and this will be managed through the new central control centre.”

How important are the maintenance and repair schedule and costs in project planning – is there an appropriate balance between this and up-front capital?
“The selected pumps use proven low maintenance components including rolling contact bearings and mechanical shaft seals. The small cost penalty for mechanical seals was considered insignificant. The motor bearings use high temperature grease rather than a relatively higher cost and maintenance oil cooling system for bearings. The use of flywheels eliminates the need for costly routine internal inspection of pressure vessels.”

How important is sourcing equipment locally, and ongoing after-sales service?
“A well developed local support structure is vital given the critical nature of the infrastructure.”

When will the project be complete?
“The NSISP will be delivered on time and on budget with operational handover occurring in December 2012. Some minor works such as system integration will occur throughout 2013.”

 Click the images below for specs on the individual pumping stations

Wattle Park Pumping Station

Wattle Park Pumping Station

Clapham  Pumping Station

Clapham Pumping Station

Gilberton Pumping Station

Gilberton Pumping Station

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