Namoi Unlimited, the Joint Organisation of Councils comprising Gunnedah Shire, Gwydir Shire, Liverpool Plains Shire, Tamworth Regional and Walcha Councils entered into a period consultancy for the provision of water and wastewater consulting services with Hunter H2O (then Hunter Water Australia) in 2013. The engagement streamlined the councils’ ability to procure water and sewerage consultancy services.
Hunter H2O provided a consistently high level of service to the member councils over the three-year period of the initial engagement. The optional two-year extensions were awarded to Hunter H2O following completion of the initial period of engagement. Namoi Unlimited retendered the agreement in 2019 and Hunter H2O was again successful in securing this agreement (three-year agreement plus an option of a two-year extension).
The services provided under the agreement covered the full scope of the member councils’ water and sewerage businesses. Since being awarded the consultancy in 2013, Hunter H2O has completed in excess of 200 projects, ranging in size from ad-hoc phone advice and general enquiries to providing immediate technical support through to treatment plant design and delivery. All projects are overseen by our Project Services Coordinator who resides in Tamworth, Naomi Schipanski, and meets bi-monthly with representatives from each member council. Monthly project reports are provided for all active projects under the agreement, detailing progress against tasks and budget. Naomi is also available for immediate resolution of day-to-day issues.
A selection of projects completed under this panel arrangement include:
- Water and Wastewater Network Servicing Strategies for Tamworth Regional Council (TRC)
- Tamworth Raw Water Security Sustainability Options for TRC
- Calala Lane WTP Capacity Assessment and Master Plan for TRC
- Bingara WTP Operations Support and Full-Scale Polymer Trial for Gwydir Shire Council
- Gunnedah STP Upgrade and Support for Gunnedah Shire Council
- Gunnedah Chlorine & Fluoride Upgrade Concept Design for Gunnedah Shire Council
- Quipolly Water Project for Liverpool Plains Shire Council
- Telemetry Upgrade Functional Description and Tender Assistance for Gunnedah Shire Council
- Connors Creek Dam Options Feasibility Study for TRC
- Dungowan Dam Safety Emergency Plan Review for TRC
- Boggabri and Wee Waa STP Detailed Designs for Narrabri Shire Council (previous member council).
The Namoi Unlimited Consultancy Agreement is a long-term arrangement, with Hunter H2O as a single consultant offering a full range of water and sewerage consulting services from strategic planning through to project inception, optioneering, conceptual designs, detailed designs and acting as owners engineer on behalf of the councils. The long-term nature of the partnership has spanned over 20 years, through various panels where Hunter H2O was the sole engineering consultancy supporting all five councils. This long-term partnership has cultivated excellent working relationships and invaluable knowledge of our client’s systems and requirements, resulting in project efficiency and cost savings.
The cultural approach to project scoping and delivery is very much a partnership, with a high degree of trust and collaboration. There is open and honest feedback and discussion at the end of each project.
Knowledge sharing and capability building is integrated into the partnership. In 2019, Hunter H2O held a half-day technical seminar in Tamworth, attended by water engineers from the New England and Namoi regions.
As a result of the long-term partnership, Hunter H2O established an office in Tamworth. Our team, together with the Namoi group, recently secured a major water supply strategy project funded by the NSW Government to prepare the long-term water security plan for the region.
We see this partnership as a shining example of what we wish to build with our clients – a strong regional partnership built on trust.
Innovations and enhancements:
Tamworth and several other regional centres in the Namoi group of Councils were profoundly impacted by the 2019 drought. Hunter H2O has been working with Namoi Unlimited on the long-term drought management plan for the region, including many aspects of the IWCM. For the first time in Australia, our understanding of paleoclimate (last 1,000 years) is now being factored into water resource planning to enable our team to better understand infrastructure requirements necessary to provide water security resilience for the region. The NSW Government, through DPIE, is providing substantial funding for this innovative and international leading-edge water security modelling work which will redefine the way water security and resilience modelling is undertaken for cities and communities in NSW. Our team considers this work will also be invaluable in assisting your team to understand current levels of water resilience and develop a long-term plan for regional water security.
Another example of innovation is for Manila WTP concept and detail design, where our team adopted high-rate lamella clarifiers in order to minimise whole of life costs and provide the plant the necessary resilience to be able to treat two source waters (Namoi and Manilla Rivers) over a vastly different range of water qualities. This innovation provided an option that had substantially lower capital cost, lower maintenance costs and simpler operation for plant operators.
Timely completion and performance:
Hunter H2O has a strong track record of delivering projects on budget and on time within the Namoi Unlimited engagement and this was one of the reasons we have been successful with this partnership since 2013. Another key aspect as to why this relationship has been so successful is that we have been able to pivot resources and change directions on projects or packages of works when the need arises, such as the recent drought in 2019/2020. During this period, a significant portion of both council’s resources and Hunter H2O’s team moved from project-based work into short and long-term drought mitigation measures.