Barwon Park Mansion remains one of the most significant examples of 19th century architecture in Victoria.
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Earlier this year Barwon Water announced the completion of a recycled water pipeline connecting Winchelsea Water Reclamation Plant (WRP) to Barwon Park. Delivered in partnership with the National Trust, the project demonstrates the power of pump technology in helping to conserve both Australia’s heritage properties and earth’s most precious resource.

The word ‘conservation’ carries a double meaning, embodying both the preservation of natural resources and the protection of cultural heritage. A partnership between Barwon Water and the National Trust has delivered a project that meets both these definitions.

The 1.8km water pipeline connecting Winchelsea Water Reclamation Plant (WRP) to Barwon Park began construction in August 2023 and was completed in March 2024. Once fully operational, it is expected to deliver an allocated 80 million litres of recycled water from the plant for agricultural use.

Situated not far from Geelong, Barwon Park remains one of the most significant examples of 19th century architecture in Victoria. Today, the heritage-listed blue-stone Italianate mansion is open on a seasonal basis, allowing visitors to explore its rich history and picturesque surrounds on select days.

Preserving history sustainably

Heritage properties like Barwon Park offer a tangible connection to the past and allow beautiful spaces to be enjoyed by generations to come. Maintaining these sites, however, comes with its own set of sustainability challenges. Balancing historical preservation with energy efficiency, water management and waste reduction can be complex and costly, especially in regions prone to drought and other environmental pressures.

Through the construction of a new irrigation system, the Barwon Park project is harnessing existing recycled water to support preservation efforts in a more sustainable way. By helping to keep the mansion grounds green and healthy, the recycled water pipeline will help make the site more attractive to visitors.

But the benefits of the project extend beyond aesthetics. Most of the recycled water delivered from the reclamation plant will be used to irrigate some of the 48 acres of land that surrounds the site, which is primarily dedicated to growing crop fodder. Barwon Park farmer, Ewan Peel, said proceeds from the sale of these crops will also contribute to maintaining the mansion and grounds.

Water will be distributed around Barwon Park via a new pivot irrigator installed onsite, which boasts a 235m arm length. To supply water to the irrigator, a new pump station was constructed at Winchelsea WRP, encompassing a three- inch centrifugal self-priming pump. The pump has a maximum operating pressure of 958kPa and PN16 flanges, a 22kW
four pole motor and is mounted on a proprietary galvanised base. It also features an automatic air release valve and high temperature shutdown thermostat.

Barwon Water’s General Manager Planning, Delivery and Environment, Seamus Butcher, said pump selection was determined by considering the system and priming requirements, the recycled water properties and operational and running aspects.

(L-R) Barwon Park Farmer Ewan Peel, National Trust Interim CEO, Philip Martin, Barwon Water Project Manager, Gurvinder Kaur, who led the project, and Barwon Water General Manager, Seamus Butcher, outside the Barwon Park Mansion.

(L-R) Barwon Park Farmer Ewan Peel, National Trust Interim CEO, Philip Martin, Barwon Water Project Manager, Gurvinder Kaur, who led the project, and Barwon Water General Manager, Seamus Butcher, outside the Barwon Park Mansion. Image: Barwon Water

Pipeline construction and challenges

The pipeline was constructed through a range of land including Barwon Water Land and private properties.

Mr Butcher said some of the main challenges faced during the project were developing key relations with private property owners and crossing over other service networks, including an existing gas transmission main.

“A temporary pipeline was in place before construction began and a previously bored section was able to be used under a road.

“The pipeline had two scour locations into an existing dam and pit before the irrigator, as well as a number of air valves and off takes for future connections to tanks.”

Mr Butcher said the pump station was constructed on the bank of the storage lagoon with a structurally designed slab with cast in plinth for the pump.

“An auto backwash filter, air valves and flow meter were installed as part of the system and HDPE was the selected material for most of the internal pipework due to its ability to be prefabricated and brought to site.

“The suction pipe to the pump was fitted with a screen. A local control station, flow meter transmitter and monitoring gauges were also a part of the station as well as other electrical infrastructure.”

Numerous local and specialist suppliers and contractors as well as Barwon Water’s maintenance subsidiary, Barwon Asset Solutions, contributed to construction.

“Commissioning testing involved running the system in conjunction with the telemetry programming developed by Barwon Water engineers. This included flushing, monitoring the system outputs relative to the control philosophy and recording performance/checking integral components.”

Maintaining system performance

Mr Butcher said the site is physically inspected on a weekly basis with seals and bearings lubricated weekly to monthly.

“The performance of the system is monitored via SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) and will send out automated alarms if flow or pressure readings sit outside the normal range. If pipeline flows/pressures drop excessively, the pipeline and pivot can be scoured at high flows to strip build-up of slimes from the pipeline.”

While initial testing and operation of the pivot irrigator has been successful, the system is not running at full capacity just yet.

“The system is still in the early phase of post-construction use with expected running to increase in frequency after the winter period.”

The new irrigator installed at Barwon Park.

The new irrigator installed at Barwon Park. Image: Barwon Water

Benefits for all

The project is one of many that is seeing Barwon Water put its recycled water to productive re-use.

“Similar projects are happening across Barwon Water’s service region, particularly on the Bellarine Peninsula, where extensions and improvement in recycled water infrastructure and quality are supporting the region’s vineyards increase production and maintain their vines year-round while saving potable water.”

Mr Butcher said the pipeline is a win-win for both Barwon Water and the National Trust.

“The system supports Barwon Water with managing the generation of recycled water at the water reclamation plant in association with the growing Winchelsea community, while assisting the local farming community with providing recycled water for agricultural use.

“This project will help Barwon Water achieve our Strategy 2030 aim to reuse 100 per cent of the recycled water produced at our water reclamation plants.”

National Trust of Australia’s (Victoria) Interim CEO, Philip Martins, welcomed the initiative to assist the National Trust preserve heritage sites sustainably.

“At the National Trust, our vision for preserving the past also gives us an understanding of what we need to do to improve the future.

“The National Trust is a strong advocate for conservation and sustainability in our built and natural environments and this recycled water project is a creative and innovative planning and design solution to save water at the Barwon Park Mansion while keeping our grounds green year-round.”

Featured image: Barwon Park Mansion remains one of the most significant examples of 19th century architecture in Victoria. Image: Barwon Water

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