A decade after completion, it’s clear the Yarra Park Water Recycling Facility project sets a benchmark in water recycling standards for the industry both locally and abroad. 

The facility is designed to meet the requirements of the Melbourne Cricket Club and regulators, with the recycled water used to provide secure, long-term and sustainable supply to the heritage listed Yarra Park, Punt Road Oval and the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground.

We were initially engaged by the then Department for Planning and Community Development to create an integrated water management plan for Melbourne’s world-famous sports precinct. MCC then made the decision to proceed with construction of the facility, with support from the state government.

Our team provided multidisciplinary technical and advisory services on this AUD$15m project, including the functional design and performance-based specification for the Class A Recycled Water Plant. In addition to the treatment plant, we undertook the design and specification of the recycled water purple pipe system within the MCG to transfer the Class A water around the facility for toilet flushing.

In the ten years since completion, the innovative outcomes of this Australian-first underground facility have set the framework for recycled water plants in Australia. The sophisticated design and enduring functionality of the facility has been recognised by the state government and broader water industry.

Since the operation of the Water Recycling Facility began in 2012, the plant has provided pivotal Class-A Water for plumbing usage at the MCG for over 550 major events, while also providing irrigation requirements for 35 hectares of Parklands throughout summer periods.

Scott McGowan

Building Services Coordinator, Melbourne Cricket Club

Innovative design for underground water facility

The Yarra Park Water Recycling Facility is situated in a heritage listed park. Key drivers dictated that the project should not subtract from the appearance of the grounds, emit odour, noise or impact the use of the space during large events. These facts led to the innovative decision for the water recycling plant to be located entirely underground – an Australian first.

Recycling 600,000 litres of water per day, the treatment process has innovative features, including a membrane bioreactor combined with a contemporary pre-validated Class A process involving ultrafiltration, and UV and chlorine disinfection. In a state first, the configuration of this technology has enabled the production of high-level water quality which meets EPA requirements; unlike comparable facilities, the water recycled in Yarra Park has consistently produced Class A water for an entire decade. 

A large consideration for the project was ensuring the park was resilient to the future impacts of climate change, such as drought or flooding. The facility enables the MCC to reduce its reliance on mains water, improve the resilience of the park with an alternative, climate-independent water source, and promote the sustainable use of water. The facility was originally designed to provide two distinct modes of operation, summer and winter, which allows lower volumes of recycled water to be produced during winter, as well as varying the nutrient removal levels when irrigating.

Designing with a focus on durability and longevity

Ten years since completion, the facility has set the benchmark for the design of recycled water plants across Australia, through sharing operational and performance learnings with the broader industry. The plant is regarded by the water industry and Victorian Government as a crucial ‘proof of concept’ plant. 

The project brought numerous industry-leading advances. The use of 3D modelling software to help identify operations and maintenance issues resulted in cost savings of 30 per cent in area, and a 15 per cent reduction in bunker depth, which also helped to retain heritage listed trees. The design also took a robust approach to odour control by venting air collected from covered odour sources through a dual process of chemical scrubbing and carbon polishing.

In addition to technical excellence, the physical layout of the facility optimised underground space and was still able accommodate standard maintenance procedures.

Yarra Park Water Recycling Facility
A tour through the Yarra Park Water Recycling Facility, courtesy of Melbourne Cricket Club