Biofilta along with a range of industry partners delivered an innovative stormwater harvesting system and community asset on top of Melbourne’s heritage listed Open Sewer.
The Melbourne Open Sewer (MOS) was decommissioned in 1993 and a section in Williams Landing has been brought back to life in 2017!
This project was delivered as part of the Greening The Pipeline initiative which has the vision to convert 27km of the heritage listed pipeline into a linear parkland.
Biofilta is serious about changing the way cities feed themselves while putting storm water and food waste to good use. To help this happen, we have designed a household scale super productive 40m2 urban farm that captures and stores rooftop rainwater, and diverts that water into an advanced wicking garden system for food production. This approach demonstrates how cities can close loops, and re-purpose abundant storm water and food “waste” streams into valuable resources to help cities feed themselves in the process.
The system is ergonomic, reduces weeding, and the water efficient design requires watering once a week in summer and less in winter. It also takes composted food waste from households and uses that input to grow food, which will reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. The household farm is designed to reduce the time taken to grow food in a closed loop system and to allow the busy modern city dweller to reconnect with food and become an urban farmer.
Underlying this initiative are some deeper insights into the role an urban garden can have on our broader ecosystem.
A 200 m2 roof area in Melbourne was modelled using a typical year’s worth of real rainfall in Melbourne and is expected to produce 109,000 litres of runoff per year taking into account some evaporation and losses. If this same area was a green revegetated pasture, nearly all of this flow would have been soaked into the ground and some of it would slowly find its way into the streams as a base flow. Hence, due to development of typical house, there is now 100,000 litres of storm water rushing into our waterways per annum. Multiply this across thousands of houses and you quickly see that the rivers and creeks receive a lot more volume from urban areas than would naturally occur.
While it may sound good to provide more water, ecosystems have developed over long periods of time with intermittent peaks of flow, not constantly every time it rains as happens when small rain events hit urban catchments. These flows also mobilise sediments that carry suspended solids and nutrients to the creeks and Bays that are detrimental to sensitive environments and cause algal blooms.
Where do these solids and nutrients come from? Well, rainfall carries airborne pollutants from dust to our roof and that runs off to the waterway. Annually, this load comprises 3.02kg of suspended solids (the gunk you find in your gutters), 16.7g of phosphorus and 242g of total nitrogen from our 200m2 roof.
So, for urban areas, reducing the volume of outflow is a really good thing from an environmental perspective and removing these nutrient loads is also good so they don’t accumulate quickly in our marine environments where nature tries to restore balance by creating algal blooms.
Our 40m2 garden will, based on our own urban water consumption figures, consume an average of 4.8litres per square metre of garden (higher rate in hot periods). This equates to a base consumption of 192 litres per day for a mix of lettuce, onions, silver beet, mint and other seasonal vegetables and herbs.
If we connect a 10,000 litre water tank to capture the rainfall and add the water demand pattern from the garden, we see something pretty cool:
The cool part is that in growing food during the year, we can meet the annual demand of the garden with a 97% reliability from rainfall and only use potable water for 3% of the water demand.
Further, from a volumetric perspective, our tank and garden reduces the flow to the Council drains by 70% which could mean that if everyone did it, issues like nuisance flooding in streets would be significantly reduced and current pipe assets would provide a greater level of service.
Best Practice Environmental targets in Victoria are met if you can provide treatment for stormwater that results in an 80% reduction in Total Suspended Solids, 45% reduction in Total Phosphorus and 45% reduction in Total Nitrogen. From capturing and reusing the rainfall from the roof, Best Practice targets are exceeded for nutrient removal and instead of feeding algae in the waterway, these nutrients can become food for veggies and feed us instead.
Based on our trial gardens over the past year, only 40m2 of growing area is required to produce 640kg of food per annum, or enough for the yearly dietary consumption of 5 adults. Value of produce per annum could be over $5,000 per annum through the production of a diverse range of herbs and vegetables.
Given that only 5% of Australians eat the recommended 130kg of vegetables per annum, our 40m2 garden would likely feed more than the average household and provide opportunity for food sharing within the neighbourhood or extended family. Invite the relatives for a BBQ and everyone leaves with a bunch of silver beet and some onions. The power of this food sharing is something that really excites us.
Growing local also helps to develop more resilient communities that are connected with their food and less reliant on imported goods.
Soil based gardening can be used to close the nutrient loop by turning green waste into compost and this in turn input into the garden to recycle the nutrients into more food. How many kg’s of lettuce or vegetable scraps do you typically throw into the bin per week? By composting this green waste, you can create a closed loop system and become an essential part of our society achieving greater environmental sustainability.
Excluding seedlings, soil and water tanks we expect this particular household farm system to cost under $10,000. Before you run away screaming, consider that depending on the varieties and volumes of produce grown, the system can achieve payback times of between 1.5 – 3 years or a return on investment in the range of 30 – 60%. Lets say the return is in the lower range of 30% pa. Where can you find a better return on investment?
Not every garden needs to cost $10,000 to get this type of return. The same percentage return applies to 1m2 or 100m2 if farmed correctly.
If saving water means being water sensitive, then the model garden is power sensitive too as our bottom watered, advanced wicking garden beds can be irrigated under gravity from the tank.
This low energy system reduces the ongoing cost of maintaining an urban garden and harnesses the free energy stored in the tank.
More power that can be better stored in batteries from the solar panels and used for other purposes than pumping water.
Growing food at home using captured rainwater from the roof can have substantial beneficial environmental impacts on the downstream environment by reducing the volume of storm water runoff and nutrient loads.
Our model 40m2 garden could produce the recommended amount of vegetables for 5 adults each year ( and in reality, more like 10 ).
The benefits of urban farming can be significant if the accumulated effect of lot scale water sensitive urban design is taken into account.
Growing food at home with the right technology is very cost effective and can represent an excellent return on investment from reduced supermarket spend.
Biofilta is currently building household, community and school urban farms and is currently taking orders for the large format systems shown in the model garden. We can also offer a full design and delivery service for full landscape setup.
If you are interested or have queries, please contact Marc Noyce at Biofilta- firstname.lastname@example.org
Biofilta is pleased to announce that we have been appointed to deliver the civil, landscape and water sensitive urban design elements of an iconic and ambitious project that will give new life to an old asset – Melbourne’s Main Outfall Sewer. Landscape will be delivered with our partner, Australian Ecosystems.
A short video on the overall project has been prepared by Melbourne Water which gives some perspective on the size of the overall project. We will be undertaking work on 100 metres out of 27 km.
Preliminary works are underway and will begin in earnest early January 2017.
Biofilta recently completed a rain garden rejuvenation project for the City of Greater Geelong in Drysdale.
The existing basin was completely overgrown with weeds, clogged and had design issues with short circuiting of flow, overflow causing erosion and no sediment collection.
The team of Biofilta and Australian Ecosystems removed the existing material, replaced the media with our proven media and replanted with pre-grown advanced plants. New rockwork, a sediment basin and pipework was also undertaken to hand back a fully rejuvenated rain garden – all completed in two days.
This little biobasin will continue it important role of removing pollution from storm water and protecting the downstream environment for many years to come.
Biofilta is proudly a registered preferred supplier for water sensitive urban design for the City of Greater Geelong.
Helping to turn our cities into catchments.
When space and environmental outcomes are of critical importance, Biofilta’s integrated water management approach makes sense.
The Gateway Plaza shopping centre expansion in Leopold, Victoria is a 6.5ha commercial development project which is located in flood prone area, has limited outfall capacity and is close to a RAMSAR wetland. To complicate the project further, the management of storm water solution must also cater for future upstream development needs and outflow is limited due to hydraulic restriction in the adjacent wetland system.
Integrating flood management, water quality treatment and solving hydraulic capacity issues is easy with a Biofilta system approach.
Our approach enables pollutants to be removed from storm water over time by collecting the debris in chambers for easy removal and capturing a a large volume of water for filtration through our above ground bioretention planter. This approach ensures that flood flows are retarded while our system gets to work cleansing the pollutants to best practice environmental targets using a natural treatment approach after the rain event occurs. The soluble pollution treatment process occurs with our specially blended sands and nitrogen and phosphorus loving plants.
If the system floods, no problem, the planter is protected due to its elevation above the flood zone and only ever receives water at a controlled rate.
During times of no rainfall, our planters reuse some of the filtered water again for self irrigation. Thus, no potable water is needed to keep the vegetation alive and the biofilms are kept moist and active for the next feed of nutrient rich stormwater runoff.
Filtered stormwater, cleansed of pollutants are then sent to the downstream receiving water way to protect sensitive environments.
The benefit for the development is that the full site is unencumbered which maximises developable land and distributed rain gardens, which often clog from debris and fail due to lack of water are avoided.
Work on the Leopold project is well advanced with the pipe boring complete, basin constructed and bioplanter under way as shown below.
Maintenance and ongoing costs of a Biofilta system are low as the vegetation area is minimised compared with a wetland or distributed rain gardens. This smaller footprint offsets the cost of running a pumped system.
As a Design and Construct Contractor, Biofilta Pty Ltd ( www.biofilta.com.au ) is experienced in finding ways to integrate flood management with water quality objectives.
If you have a problem site or need to achieve a wide range of integrated storm water management objectives in a small area, we would be pleased to discuss.
Biofilta Pty Ltd is a privately owned company based in Port Melbourne. Our mission is to help turn our cities into catchments and food bowls.
Water which flows from the apartment site (i.e. runoff from the terraces and overflow from the roof water tanks) is stored within a primary detention tank. The function of this tank is to provide short term storage in order to capture the runoff from the site during the storm event. The water in this tank is then pumped by the “primary pump” in batches to the bioretention planter bed at street level.
The primary transfer pump is controlled via Biofilta specialised pump logic from the central Biofilta panel. Water is pumped from the primary tank to our bioretention planter bed.
The planter provides a secondary physical filtration to remove fine sediments and associated bound heavy metals. The planter also biologically removes soluble nutrients from the stormwater via the plant root biofilms and microbes. Water is pumped from the primary tank to the planter bed at a controller rate to ensure that there is a “dose” and “rest” regime. This regime is crucial to ensure the health of plants & biofilms as well as ensure treatment efficiency.
Water which flows from the Biofilta bioretention planter is stored within the recirculation [retention] tank. Water within the recirculation tank is used to recirculate water back to the planter during dry periods. Water which exceeds the capacity of the recirculation tank flows to the street stormwater drainage as secondary treated stormwater.
By embracing innovative design, Melbourne is pioneering sustainable city living with an expanding population. One of these innovations is being showcased on the world stage on the touring BlackBOX design exhibition.
The system developed by Melbourne company Biofilta Pty Ltd, is helping to transform cities into water catchments. Mr Marc Noyce, co-inventor and Biofilta CEO said “We are very excited and honoured to be part of the BlackBOX exhibition”. By harvesting urban stormwater run-off in built up urban centres, Biofilta is producing fit for purpose water to irrigate important landscapes like Fitzroy Gardens adjacent to the Melbourne CBD. “Stormwater is typically a wasted resource in urban environments. Our spatially efficient system captures this resource and allows cities to become mini catchments. Combined with our natural plant based filters, we can create healthier environments, produce irrigation water for less than the cost of potable water and help to keep our parks and gardens alive during drought” said Mr Noyce.
Biofilta’s innovation has been selected by the City of Melbourne for the BlackBOX design exhibition because of it’s high performance and spatially efficient design, which does not interrupt the busy hustle and bustle on the streets of Melbourne or relaxing recreational space in nearby parklands. Biofilta’s award winning stormwater harvesting projects “provide a way to use stored stormwater to protect urban landscapes, in turn cooling the micro climate associated with cities” says co-inventor and sustainable designer Brendan Condon. “This helps cities to combat the urban heat island effect created by our roads and buildings, which is important for liveability and resilience for cities in the face of rising temperatures in a changing climate” he says.
The BlackBOX exhibition is named after the Melbourne invention that revolutionised the global aviation industry. The exhibition shines a spotlight on 64 Melbourne inventions and innovations from the past 150 years that have profoundly impacted who we are as a community and the way we live our lives. From enabling hearing for the hearing impaired with the bionic ear, through to polymer bank notes, the Sherrin football and refrigeration, this exhibition shares the stories of these products and their connection to Melbourne.
Mr Noyce said the company has a goal to capture and filter 1 billion litres of stormwater per annum through its systems by 2020, adding to completed projects which are already capturing and filtering over 200 million litres per annum for Australian cities.
Read the full article “Stormwater harvesting system one of 64 Melbourne designs celebrated at Milan BlackBOX exhibition” here.
City of Melbourne and Biofilta featured in US Metropolis Mag Guide to the World’s Most Liveable Cities.
“Some of Melbourne’s oldest open spaces are working hard beneath the surface, housing major water-harvesting infrastructure thanks to the City of Melbourne and Biofilta. Last February, one of the largest system—two underground tanks that hold a total of 1.3 million gallons (5 million litres) of storm water—was installed under the 167-year-old Fitzroy Gardens. It produces up to 18 million gallons (69 million litres) to irrigate the surrounding natural landscape.”
Biofilta has completed a stormwater harvesting, treatment and recirculation system for Townsville City Council at the Townsville Recreational Boating Park (TRBP).
The Biofilta System was selected by the Townsville City Council due to its spatial efficiently reducing the required WSUD footprint from 3,200 sq. metres to an above ground footprint of only 360 sq. metres whilst meeting or exceeding the best practice stormwater treatment guidelines.
The Biofilta System intercepts all stormwater runoff up to and including the 3 month stormwater event from the 3.6 ha TRBP development site. After detaining the runoff from the site, the Biofilta System provides primary (i.e. gross pollutant trap, sediment and oil interceptor unit) and secondary (i.e. vegetated planter) treatment of the stormwater. The treated stormwater is used to recirculate through the planter for sustainability then discharged to Goondi Creek at a controlled rate.
Key Project Facts:
- Catchment size 3.6 ha
- Planter size 350 sq. metre (less than 0.1% of catchment)
- 10,000 litre Gross Pollutant Trap
- 20,000 litre Sediment and Oil Inceptor Unit
- 100,000 litre detention tank
- 50,000 litre retention and recirculation tank
- Average annual rainfall 1,143 mm
- Filtration and bioretention with selected media and native plants including Ficinia nodosa, Juncus usitatus and Lomandra hystrix
Biofilta has completed its first project in north Queensland at The Sands Estate, Tannum Sands.
The Sands Estate is located approximately 5km south of the town of Tannum Sands. The development site is generally located between Wild Cattle Creek to the northeast, and Tannum Sands Road to the west. The overall site area proposed for development is approximately 340ha including about 77ha designated as conservation area. The site is located within 7km of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and therefore potential impacts of stormwater runoff are of key significance.
Lyons Capital chose Biofilta for its specialist expertise in precinct scale, state of the art stormwater treatment systems employing robust treatment techniques to remove pollutants from development runoff to Best Practice standards.
With the Biofilta Systems, the developer was able to fast track environmental approvals with the Federal and State Authorities who were impressed with the protection to downstream environments offered with the design.
Biofilta was engaged by Lend Lease to supply and install a compact stormwater harvesting and treatment system for the iconic GTV9 Studio redevelopment in Richmond.
The system includes our unique treatment train and stacked tank configuration to provide 75m³ of primary storage which is then filtered through a 3 tier 50m² Biofilta vegetated planter. Filtered water is then collected in a 50m³ re-use tank for on-site irrigation needs with over 75% reliability.
Meeting the Greenstar Category C rating criteria for the 3ha development site in such a small footprint requires a Biofilta treatment train approach. All this performance is achieved without the need for chemicals or cartridges.
Birrarung Marr is an 8ha Park on the Yarra River’s north bank next to Federation Square and its also Melbourne’s newest major park. Opened in 2002, it hosts events and festivals and now hosts one of Melbourne’s largest stormwater harvesting systems.
Integrated stormwater management doesn’t get any more integrated into the fabric of an urban landscape than the Birrarung Marr stormwater harvesting project. Commencing in early 2013, the City of Melbourne commissioned a stormwater harvesting system based on Biofilta’s twin tank and recirculating bioretention design.
This system is big on output and small on footprint. Capturing stormwater from 37ha of Melbourne’s CBD and railway runoff the system provides over 30 Megalitres of fit for purpose irrigation water per annum for the Birrarung Marr landscape.
Fitzroy Gardens is a one of Melbourne’s iconic inner city garden parks and attracts 2.8 million visitors per year. The site is high profile and has been operated by the City of Melbourne as a public garden since 1917, with the land originally set aside as a public reserve in 1848. The Gardens are now home to many significant tree and plant species both exotic and Australian natives. The stormwater harvesting project was required to provide greater water security to the gardens during period of drought as well as reducing the overall use of potable water for irrigation. The spatially efficient Biofilta system was chosen by the City of Melbourne to harvest stormwater from a 67ha urban catchment which includes the runoff from Parliament House to provide up to 69 million litres of fit for purpose irrigation water for the Fitzroy and Treasury Gardens. This represents over half the total irrigation demand for the 33ha of heritage listed gardens.
Working with design engineers Cardno, this system was designed to intercept two main drains and filter the gross pollutants and sediments before temporarily storing a massive 4,000,000 litres in an underground tank acting as a mini urban catchment. From the primary tank, the stormwater is pumped up through our specially constructed 247m2 Biofilta vegetated planter containing our own blended sand media and tolerant native plants.
As the water passes through the treatment bed, the combination of physical and biological treatment processes removes suspended sediments and the attached pollutants such as heavy metals and soluble nutrients from the water. Excess pollutants such as Nitrogen and Phosphorus promote algal blooms in the Yarra River and Port Phillip Bay which can detrimental to their ecological health.
The Biofilta system greatly reduces these pollutants to help protect our natural environment. Up to 48% of all total Nitrogen, 57% of Phosphorus and 85% of total suspended solids are predicted by MUSIC modelling to be removed from the catchment, easily exceeding current Best Practice Environmental Standards for this major urban catchment. Our smart control systems work to optimise the watering regime to manage the planter vegetation and health of the biofilms to work at their best and meet the demands of the irrigation system. After treatment through the Biofilta vegetation, the cleansed stormwater water drains to a 1,000,000 litre reuse tank where it ready to be utilised by the City of Melbourne to irrigate the gardens.
Contact us today to find out how Biofilta can meet your needs for spatially efficient stormwater harvesting and precinct scale pollutant removal. Further info: email@example.com Or Call: Gareth Jack, Operations Manager on 0468 469 616
The Euneva Ave Carpark Building Biofilta System provides for the capture and treatment from the entire 1,700 m2 site and provides treated stormwater for the two green walls of the 6 level carpark as well as the irrigation needs for the surrounding landscape. The Biofilta system was selected for its unique ability to provide a spatially efficient stormwater treatment, with a significant reduction in footprint when compared to a traditional raingarden.
Without the Biofilta system providing filtration and collection, there would be a large silt load which would lead to clogging of the elevated planters which are difficult to maintain. With the current configuration all maintenance is done at the ground level Biofilta bioretention planter. Our Biofilta system provides an attractive landscape which also lowers the Urban Heat Island Effect and cools the western facing entrance way and office.
The first major Biofilta bioretention system was built in partnership with the City of Melbourne and Citywide in 2011.
This system is located on and under Darling Street, adjacent to Darling Square in East Melbourne. The Darling Street installation utilises the Biofilta bioretention system as part of a robust and logical treatment train. Much of the multi phase treatment train is located underground including gross pollutant and sediment capture, stormwater capture tanks, and efficient smart pump systems.
The Biofilta system delivers a spatially efficient design, enabling best practice stormwater objectives to be achieved in a significantly smaller area than traditional Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) approaches. As part of the Darling Street design investigation it was determined that a conventional raingarden sized to meet the best practice guidelines would be required to be approximately 2,200 m2 in area. This area was not available. The Biofilta system provided the equivalent treatment with an above ground footprint of only 120m2. In addition, to meeting best practice pollutant reduction guidelines, the Darling Street Biofilta is configured to supply up to 20,000,000 litres of fit for purpose irrigation water per year which the City of Melbourne is utilising to irrigate adjacent heritage listed green space.