Restoring the waters

Restoring the Waters works on Clear Paddock Creek in western Sydney – still passing muster 12 years on…

Restoring the Waters was a bold vision to remove a concrete channel on Clear Paddock Creek at St Johns Park in Sydney’s west, and replace it with a beautiful and functional creek. The vision was formulated by Fairfield City Council and the Australian Conservation Foundation, and it gathered incredible momentum among a range of stakeholders and the community.

The design was developed by an interdisciplinary team in the mid-late 1990s, with Storm’s Directors Rod Wiese and Mal Brown on the team. A NSW Stormwater Trust Grant was secured and Stage 1 (upstream reach) works were completed in 2000. Storm supervised the construction process with Council.

It was the first significant attempt at channel naturalisation undertaken in Australia and is a landmark project for that reason. In the intervening period, the works have stabilised, and vegetation has grown.

In determining whether and how to proceed with the next stages of the project, Council wanted to conduct a review of the Stage 1 works. In 2011 they engaged Storm to conduct a review to see whether it meets with current creek naturalisation best practice, and to see where any design improvements could be identified.

Apart from minor issues such as erosion and the types of geotextiles used, Storm considered the works to have been outstandingly resilient, provide excellent visual amenity and biodiversity, and to be consistent with current best practice. Future designs could be enhanced by the addition of WSUD swales to direct flows into the channel, and a planting plan which provides plant zonings to achieve a balance between biodiversity, stability and aesthetics/recreation.

A revised functional design was developed by Storm for Reach 3 of the works, and a detailed costing was provided.

The Restoring the waters Stage 1 project is a resounding success and tribute must be paid to Steve Frost of Council who championed the project within Fairfield City Council.