Featured artist: Shannon Crees

Sustainable Irrigation Plan

Featured artist: Shannon Crees
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Sustainable Irrigation Plan

What is it?

Sustainable Irrigation PlanMarrickville Council is partnering with local communities to become a Water Sensitive City as part of its climate change adaptation approach. The Sustainable Irrigation Plan (SIP) is one of many projects working towards this.

SIP will improve Council's ability to maintain the condition of local sports fields.

At current water prices, Marrickville Council currently spends over $140,000 each year on potable water for all its parks, with majority of the water used for irrigating 10 sports fields. The aim of the SIP is to reduce the amount of drinking quality (potable) water used for irrigating its sports fields. It will do this in two ways:

  • Improving irrigation efficiency, and
  • Substituting potable water with non-potable sources.

Potential water sources for irrigation include stormwater, roof water, groundwater and recycled wastewater.

For irrigation purposes, the water will be:

  • Harvested – from local catchments, and collected via a weir, pipe diversions or similar.
  • Transported – swales, underground and/or aboveground pipes. 
  • Treated – Remove gross pollutants (rubbish), nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus).
  • Stored – in above-ground and/or underground tanks and wetlands.

The SIP project uses a collaborative approach and is coordinated by a multi-disciplinary team within Council – including environmental managers, landscape architects, and environmental engineers.

What have we done so far – sportsfields along the Cooks River

Mackey Park, Tempe playing fields, Steel Park and Mahoney Reserve 

  • Discover Point Recycled Water Scheme
    • The Discovery Point development is a joint venture between developers Landcom and Australand and is located at Wolli Creek in the Rockdale local government area. 
    • The development will have an on-site sewage treatment plant (membrane bioreactor) that will recycle the water and use it to flush toilets, water gardens and wash cars.
    • Water will be piped to new storage tanks to irrigate Council's Cooks River sports fields (Tempe, Mackey, Steel and Mahoney).
  • Irrigation demand assessment and modelling for sports fields along the Cooks River. 
  • Recycled Water Storage Tank – Landscape Assessment
  • Tank Art Project – incorporate public art into the design of the storage tank/s
    • Collaborative planning process with citizens and other stakeholders; and
    • Engaged a public artist to develop the ideas.
  • Mackey Park wetland and stormwater harvesting project (see below)

What we have done so far – sportsfields away from the Cooks River

Arlington Reserve, Camdenville Oval, Camperdown Park, Petersham Park, Marrickville Park and Henson Park

  • Stormwater Harvesting Opportunities
    • Council is looking at stormwater harvesting opportunities at sports fields away from Cooks River including a joint stormwater harvesting project for Marrickville and Henson Park and stormwater harvesting at Arlington Reserve.
    • We are working with local sports groups and users of the parks to develop these projects.

Mackey Park wetland and stormwater harvesting project

Mackey Park is one of the riverside parks identified in the NSW Environment Trust funded Collaborative Planning for Sustainable Irrigation Project along the Cooks River.

Marrickville Council received funding of $2.265 million in March 2009 under the Australian Government's Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program – Strategic Projects to upgrade Mackey Park in collaboration with community stakeholders. The works include an upgrade of the playground and picnic area and reconstruction and extension of the sports fields, with new field drainage into a wetland and irrigation system.

The system at Mackey Park now:

  • improves stormwater and runoff to achieve sustainable water quality and conservation outcomes in the Cooks River Catchment;
  • builds flexibility into source of irrigation for Mackey Park; and
  • improves usability of the park.

Storage tanks

Storage tanksTwo tanks were installed in September 2010 to allow flexibility with options for water storage from other sources and public art opportunities.

Council contributed $835,000 toward the project, with further funding from the NSW Environment Trust funded Collaborative Planning for Sustainable Irrigation Project that part-funded the Masterplan for the park's refurbishment, collaborative engagement, irrigation demand studies, the wetland and water recycling and storage system.


WetlandSoil tests carried out in 2009 revealed contamination that led to rethinking the design of the upgrade to address the contamination.

A wetland has been built to treat the playing field drainage water and reuse of the treated drainage water for irrigation. Irrigation systems have been designed to accommodate future connection to off-site recycled water supplies in the future.

Preliminary designs for stormwater harvesting at Marrickville Park and Henson Park – Community feedback

In September 2010, Council invited stakeholders to share your their ideas and local knowledge about Marrickville and Henson Parks and look and comment on preliminary designs of the harvesting system. The feedback is being included in the current detailed investigations.

If you would like to stay informed about the progress of the project please contact Council's water team on water@marrickville.nsw.gov.au or 02 9392 5000.


This project is funded by:

  • Council's ratepayer-funded Stormwater Service Charge; and
  • the NSW Government Environmental Trust.

For further information or to be involved in this project, please contact Senior Environment Officer – Water and Catchments on 9335 2062 or water@marrickville.nsw.gov.au.

NSW Environmental Trust

This project has been assisted by the New South Wales Government through its Environmental Trust.