As NSW continues to be crippled by severe drought, The Gables in Box Hill is demonstrating how it’s possible to save precious potable water resources and keep residents’ lawns lush and green.

With Level 2 water restrictions introduced across Sydney on Tuesday, representatives from developer Celestino and Flow Systems, Australia's first sustainable water utility, officially opened a recycled water treatment plant servicing The Gables’ current and future community.

Celestino chief executive, John Vassallo, said the new plant is a prime example of the kind of visionary thinking that is necessary to adapt to the harsh drought conditions experienced across NSW.

“It critical when we are planning new communities that both Government and the private sector make sustainable long term investments in water, so that we have sufficient water in good times and bad. 

When we planned The Gables some five years ago Sydney’s dams were full, so there was very little interest in Government to make an investment in recycled water for our new community. Celestino took the view at that time that it simply wasn’t good enough to waste drinking (potable) water and at the same time do nothing to conserve waste water from homes. 

This water centre shows what is possible and it will deliver benefits to our community, the broader Sydney community and the environment for many years to come. 

We believe such water centres are the future for western Sydney and although they  are generally supported by Government there are many areas where the approval and delivery or such vital infrastructure could be streamlined, supported and incentivised to make the process faster, cheaper and more certain, so that recycled water becomes the norm rather than the exception. It’s a no brainer.” 

The recycled water plant – the first for a greenfield site – is helping the community take significant demand off the potable water system, cutting use by about 70 per cent.

While residents will rely on Sydney Water for drinking water and bathing, the plant will mean they aren’t subject to the same tough water restrictions as others all over Sydney. Residents can still wash their cars, hose down the driveway and maintain their gardens – helping to keep The Gables an oasis of green.

Ryan Allen, who moved into The Gables six months ago, says being able to keep your garden not just alive, but thriving, is really important for anyone who’s proud of their home.

“As a landscaper, I understand the difference a healthy garden can make to a home. We are all aware of how dry everything is, so being able to irrigate without guilt or being fined is a huge plus for The Gables.”

The $16M plant, which has taken two years to construct, currently has a 1-megalitre per day capacity, which is approximately half an Olympic swimming pool. 

It will deliver recycled water to households in The Gables for use in:

·       watering gardens and open spaces

·       hosing down hard surfaces

·       suppressing dust

·       running the washing machine; and

·       flushing toilets

Stage two of the plant is planned to be operational by 2023/24 with projected recycled water use of 2 megalitres per day.

The Gables currently has over 500 homes occupied with a residential population of more than 1,000. At completion, there will be 4,500 homes and around 12,000 residents. The expansion plans for the plant mean the community will continue to be serviced by recycled water as the population grows. 

“It is critical that we invest in new infrastructure to help Sydney manage its water use for the long term and Celestino is delighted to be working with Flow Systems to do this,” says Mr Vassallo.