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Christchurch engineers cleaning up at the awards

Christchurch engineers cleaning up at the awards

It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it. Two Christchurch projects have been rewarded for their efforts in improving, and disposing of, sewerage in Canterbury at last night’s New Zealand Engineering Excellence Awards.

MWH New Zealand was recognised for their work on the Eastern Selwyn Sewerage Scheme with the Water, Waste and Amenities Award. Work began prior to the Canterbury earthquakes, after which the project’s scope suddenly increased.

The engineers faced a number of challenges following the earthquakes, including the need to get 4,000 Selwyn households off the stressed city system while ensuring the expanded sewerage project remained affordable to ratepayers and could continue operating during the redevelopment.

A key part of the project was the design and construction of New Zealand’s first large-scale solar air sludge drying hall, addressing a significant sludge management problem and resulting in cost savings of more than $250,000 a year.

Similarly, Beca claimed the Resource Efficient Design Award for its Christchurch Biosolids Drying Facility, the first plant of its type to be built on such a scale in Australasia.

With nearly 5,000 dry tonnes of wastewater solids produced from the Christchurch Wastewater Treatment Plant, the challenge of what to do with this became a growing problem. Rising landfill costs and poorly accessible forestry land forced the Christchurch City Council to seek an alternative means of disposal.

It came in the form of Beca’s thermal belt drying plant and an agreement with state coal mining company Solid Energy to use the waste material to rehabilitate mined areas at Stockton Mine.

"Last night was further testament to the outstanding quality and ingenuity that is being evidenced across many areas of the Christchurch rebuild. These two awards in particular, for MWH New Zealand and Beca, demonstrate excellent contributions not only to the ongoing rebuild but also the future sustainability of the surrounding environment,” Panel Judge Peter Higgs, comments.

The Christchurch region had a particularly strong showing in last night’s New Zealand Engineering Excellence Awards, supplying eight of the 19 finalists in the overall Projects and Products category for 2014.

The Awards are run by the Institution of Professional Engineers (IPENZ) on behalf of the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA), Electricity Engineers’ Association (EEA), Association of Consulting Engineers New Zealand (ACENZ), Civil Contractors New Zealand, Water New Zealand and the New Zealand Council of Engineering Deans and the Cement and Concrete Association of New Zealand (CCANZ).

Further information regarding the Awards, including an overview of each of the finalists and videos featuring their work, is available at


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