In a joint submission with Armistead Earthmoving, Department of Sustainability and Environment, and Alluvium, leading architectural, engineering and environmental consulting company GHD has been awarded the Civil Contractors Federation Earth Award for their involvement in the Lake Condah Water Restoration Project.
The Earth Awards have the specific aim of recognising outstanding work in construction and environmental excellence which reflects development and use of the best technologies and practices by Australian civil contractors.
Lake Condah, located near Heywood, Victoria, forms a key part of the Budj Bim National Heritage Landscape and is identified as a wetland of national significance from a cultural and ecological perspective.
It has been established that the Gunditjmara people at Lake Condah, and along the Budj Bim volcanic landscape, were a highly-organised society with developed aquaculture systems, at a time when most humans on earth were hunter-gatherers. There is evidenced in their use of eel trap systems as far back as 8000 years BC.
During the 1950s, Lake Condah was drained as part of major engineering works on the Wallacedale and Condah Swamps, north of Lake Condah. Since then, Lake Condah temporarily retains water during floods. This has hampered the function of eel trap systems, leading to a deterioration of ecological value at the site.
Trials conducted in 1990 determined that an outlet water level regulator was required long-term to allow longer retention of water from high rainfall events in the catchment zone.
This project involved the design and construction of an outlet water level regulator with the intent to effectively restore water to the site. GHD was engaged to project manage the design and supervise the construction of the project.
The project has many positive environmental, indigenous community and training impacts. In association with the Windamara Aboriginal Co-op, twelve unemployed indigenous locals were trained and worked on the project. Each new worker was given at least one full day on a 20 tonne excavator. Others registered more than 300 hours on various machines. In addition, the project teams were taught the basics of pre-start checks, power and hand tool inspection, toolbox meetings, and construction plant practices. To maximize safety, a buddy system was introduced; the project was completed without accident or injury. Ongoing training and potential opportunities for work in the construction industry are now being afforded to this group.