At a packed Waterfront Terrace, Hilton Cairns an audience of stormwater professionals celebrated the achievements of Queensland’s Stormwater Industry at the 2019 Stormwater Queensland Awards for Excellence.

Designed to encourage and celebrate excellence in the innovation, development, completion and management of stormwater projects and the people involved.  There were six award categories on offer with awards being handed out in five of those categories.

The first category to be awarded was for Excellence in Strategic or Master Planning.

This award recognises excellence in strategic or master planning in the development of integrated stormwater management. These projects may include Infrastructure or Integrated Stormwater Design projects that are still in the planning phase.

The winner was Scrubby Creek Catchment Recovery Plan developed by E2Designlab, Logan City Council, LAT27, Catchment Solutions and Synergy Solutions.

The Scrubby Creek catchment covers over 57 km2 and drains from Park Ridge and Regents Park, through Browns Plains, Heritage Park, Berrinba, Marsden, and Loganlea before entering Slacks Creek at Meadowbrook. The catchment is mostly located in the Logan City Council area, with some tributaries to the north located within Brisbane City Council.   The catchment is highly urbanized, with a mix of land uses including residential, industrial, commercial, open space, rural residential, and conservation. The waterway corridor primarily falls within the open space network and there are a number of main roads including the Logan Motorway and the Mount Lindsay Highway which dissect the catchment.

The judging team paid tribute to the project: This project has engaged several disciplines of Logan City Council and the community to develop a well thought out integrated masterplan for the enhancement and rehabilitation of Scrubby Creek. The use of several baseline studies and the expertise and experience from specialist, council staff and the community has developed a plan that will likely see that Scrubby Creek achieve exceptional water quality, ecological, social and economic objectives.

A Highly Commended was awarded to City of Gold Coast’s Local Government Infrastructure Plan – Stormwater Quality.

The second category was Excellence in Infrastructure. This award recognises excellence in stormwater infrastructure projects that have been delivered and are now operational.

The winner was Torhaven – innovation and excellence through stormwater treatment by Ephemeral Wetland by E2Designlab, Water Technology and Defence Housing Australia.

Torhaven is a 27-acre site located in Ipswich, Queensland. Prior to DHA’s acquisition, the land was used for rural and agricultural purposes and was characterised by well-vegetated hillslopes with extensive grasses and established trees. The site conveyed a small external catchment across a broad floodplain that had largely been cleared for agriculture yet was punctuated by remnant Queensland Blue Gums in an area otherwise dominated by pasture grasses.

The judging team outlined the value of this worthy winner: As these ephemeral wetlands are “more resilient to some of the degrading forces acting on typically constructed wetlands”, this represents a worthy and innovative approach to wetland design and waterway rehabilitation. The project also gives confidence that this approach could be replicated effectively elsewhere.   Overall, a good demonstration of site-sensitive and careful wetland design, analysis and execution.

In the category of Excellence in Research & Innovation, the winner was Development of Low-Cost Water Level Gauges by Water Modelling Solutions.

This award recognises excellence in research and innovation that fills knowledge gaps and/or addresses information or technology needs which lead to improvements in the sustainable use and management of stormwater and the judges remarks back up the intent: Water Modelling Solutions has pioneered the design, development and testing of new, low-cost water level gauges.  15 of the gauges have been successfully installed within Toowoomba Regional Council, Rockhampton Regional Council and Brisbane City Council areas.  The upfront cost is one-tenth of traditional technology and the maintenance is also significantly reduced.

The Excellence in Policy and Education Award went to Davison Street Creek Restoration Project “Reconnecting Community with Creek” by Healthy Land and Water, Australian Government, Brisbane City Council, Save Our Waterways Now, Mode and CoDesign Studios.

This award recognises excellence in policy/regulation, and educational programs/activities that facilitate or accelerate the uptake of stormwater management principles and practises that lead to the sustainable use and management of stormwater with the judges remarking that: The project has revitalised a section of the southern bank of Enoggera Creek, a tributary of the Brisbane River. Historically known as Three Mile Scrub, it is an area of significant botanical and historical importance. It was an area of subtropical lowland rainforest, incorporating Enoggera Creek and nearby lands. Enoggera Creek is now a       highly urbanised catchment of the Lower Brisbane River in Brisbane, Queensland and is located just 3 miles from the capital city. The Lower Brisbane River has consistently received a D rating through the regional Healthy Land and Water Ecosystem Health Monitoring Program with key stresses cited as sediment and pollutant runoff entering the waterways from surrounding urban areas.

The final award for the evening was the Excellence in Integrated Stormwater Design. Designed to recognise excellence in the integration of stormwater into the urban environment. It is intended to promote the use of integrated design principles and to acknowledge design lead stormwater projects. These projects, which may be at any scale, deliver quality outcomes for amenity, recreational, biodiversity and functional elements of stormwater systems. The award recognises projects that have been constructed within the last 12 months.

The winner was Small Creek Naturalisation by Ipswich City Council, Bligh Tanner, Landscapology, Australian Wetlands and TLCC.

The judges paired this project extremely highly noting: Some of the aspects of this project were undertaken at the highest standard conceivable for a waterway rehabilitation project – in particular the stakeholder consultation. Whilst I have been left wondering whether the economics of this degree of stakeholder engagement is sustainable/replicable across other projects, there is no question that the ultimate project outcome is a model for waterway rehabilitation design and execution.

Stormwater Queensland Chief Judge, Daniel Niven, congratulated the entrants and praised the innovation on display “On behalf of Stormwater Queensland I would like to congratulate all nominees and entrants to the Awards For Excellence.”

“Our industry plays a vital role in protecting one of our greatest and most precious assets, our waterways, and to see the standard of design and innovation on display should provide every member of our industry and the wider public with confidence about the future of Queensland’s waterways.”