It’s late on a Friday afternoon and a worksite’s water pipe has burst, a rain event has caused inundation, or an issue with contaminated groundwater has arisen. What happens next?
Fridays once meant the end of a work week for Dr Yang Liu, but that has changed since he and his colleagues at Coates Engineering Solutions developed a rapid-deployment water solution team for the commercial and residential construction space.
“The majority of our clients are construction companies that conduct major infrastructure projects or complex residential building developments. However, we sometimes do smaller works, like pools,” says Liu, Design Manager (Water) at Coates.
“The water we’re dealing with might be surface water or groundwater. We deal with any water that is collected or contaminated. We treat it according to whatever the local requirement is, then discharge or reuse it based on advice from environmental consultants.”
Alongside its rapid-response capabilities, dealing with those local water treatment requirements and environmental standards help differentiate Coates’ service, says David Dragicevich, National Technical Engineering Manager at Coates.
“There are plenty of contractors out there taking risks and doing either what they know to be wrong, or ignorant to what the right thing is in the first place,” says Dragicevich.
“With that comes the risk of fines, project delays, really bad PR when you upset communities – with odours, contamination or pollution – and more.”
Case study: A major light rail project
Coates Engineering Solutions has been contracted to work on numerous major projects including tunnelling jobs in Sydney, light rail jobs in Sydney and Newcastle, and work on remote mining sites and regional drinking water plants. Some specific projects they’ve worked on include WestConnex 3A and Mandalong South Dam.
On a light rail project, a solution was required for an excavation ten metres long and four metres deep, in a location where the water table was 3.5 m. To ensure uninterrupted and safe access for workers, groundwater had to be lowered and continuously dewatered.
Coates Engineering Solutions was given three days to propose the solution and have it installed and running. It had to be capable of pumping three litres of water per second continuously, to keep the pit dry. Groundwater that was extracted also had to be treated for pH and turbidity before discharge to a nearby stormwater line.
On the same day they were first contacted, the Coates team inspected the site and had detailed discussions. Within 12 hours a tailored proposal was complete. The next day, dewatering and treatment equipment was delivered onto the site and commissioned.
Upon testing it turned out the groundwater did not pass discharge-criteria guidelines. Treatment methodology, and the equipment to enable that treatment, was mobilised 16 hours later.
Coates engineers and technicians remained on site around the clock for ten days to ensure the complex system remained fully functional.
“We can provide end-to-end solutions, or a client can choose a specific service,” says Liu. “Our goal is to hold our clients’ hands and walk them through the whole process, starting with solution design, data on raw water quality and flow rate, and so on. Then we put together a solution proposal and, if it’s accepted, we mobilise the people and the equipment.
“Thanks to our knowledge and experience, we are thinkers as well as doers. We will challenge assumptions and sometimes we will challenge local authorities, if their guidelines are out of balance. We want to protect the environment and often we advise councils and water authorities around the most efficient way to do that.”
Once known as an equipment hire specialist, Coates is proud to offer its engineering solutions capability, of which rapid deployment for water issues is just one part.
At Coates, around 20 engineers work specifically in the solutions stream, which brings together specialised knowledge and experience with the equipment required to get the job done. The team manages not just water treatment, but also storage, transfer, pumping and hosing, telemetry, analysis and more.
“We have lots of returning customers, which says to me we’re delivering on our client’s expectations,” says Liu.
“Our customers are comfortable to have us back on their site, knowing we’re doing the right thing, meeting requirements, having all of the relevant machinery and being environmentally responsible while providing savings and value.”