Breakthrough water treatment plant claims top Newcastle engineering award.

Gilgi water treatment under construction.

Project Gilghi by Ampcontrol and Aurecon is Newcastle’s top Engineering Excellence Award winner and Sir William Hudson Award finalist.

Gilghi takes feed water from a variety of sources, including groundwater, rivers, lakes and oceans and turns it into drinkable water, compliant with Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

It was initially deployed in the community of Gillen Bore, which until 2019 relied on the continued transport (150-kilometre round trip from Alice Springs) of potable water due to the high salinity, hardness, and low pH levels found in their existing bore water.

The reverse osmosis water treatment plant employs a standalone hybrid power supply consisting of solar photovoltaic panels, a back-up diesel generator, and battery storage.

Gilghi water treatment plant provides Gillen Bore with a reliable source of quality potable water. The modular units are self-sufficient designs intended for remote communities.

We are incredibly proud to be playing a role in delivering a sustainable water solution to communities in need through the innovative design and advanced technology of Gilghi” said Ampcontrol CEO and Managing Director Rod Henderson.

For remote communities access to clean, safe drinking water can’t be taken for granted. The Gilghi unit is designed to be serviced and supported by the people in the communities it serves, making a meaningful improvement to people’s lives.”


Gilgi water treatment under construction.

Following a rigorous judging process by an independent panel of experts, projects from each of Engineers Australia’s nine divisions are selected to win an AEEA. One winner from each division is also selected as a finalist for the Sir William Hudson Award – the highest honour for a project awarded by Engineers Australia.

A great solution and potentially a massive market across the globe. This off-grid containerised water treatment solution has the potential to make a significant impact on the lives of people who rely on groundwater for their main water supply. A breakthrough solution that provides remote communities with quality, potable water. This is such a beautiful example of good design that makes our world better.”

~ The Good Design Awards jury

Engineers Australia Newcastle Division Manager, Helen Link, congratulated winners on their teamwork, innovation, and technical excellence.

These Australian Engineering Excellence Award winners showcase the outstanding achievement in engineering and the invaluable contribution engineering makes to the economy, community and the environment,” Ms Link said.

Thanks to Project Gilghi, Indigenous and remote communities across Australia now have access to affordable and continuous potable water thanks to an innovative new off-grid, containerised water treatment plant. It is a remarkable achievement and a worthy nominee for the national award.”

Optimising water

In 2015 University of Newcastle Professor George Kuczera was awarded $322,000 in Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project funding for his research project Optimal scheduling of urban bulk water systems under uncertainty in partnership with Sydney Catchment Authority.

This project developed a new optimisation framework for planning and operation of urban bulk water systems with flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances.

Population growth in major Australian cities, coupled with a potentially drying climate, is putting pressure on existing water supply. To avoid the risk of overinvesting and losing future flexibility, water utilities have to develop plans for the future, a task made difficult by uncertainty about future climate and demand.

The framework is intended to explicitly deal with uncertainty about future demand and climate change, to ensure that solutions can cope with plausible but unexpected futures. The project applied this framework to the bulk water supply for Sydney.

Newcastle recipients of Australian Engineering Excellence Award

· Project Gilghi – Aurecon, Ampcontrol

· The Newcastle Light Rail Project – Downer

· Optimal Scheduling of Urban Bulk Water Systems Under Uncertainty – University of Newcastle, Water NSW

· Transitioning from 2D drawings to 3D auto-generated digital models for certified design – Essential Energy