Coerco and Xylem’s floating pontoon proves the right pick in Picton


In the depths of commercial wastewater management, you need a niche understanding around the physics of fluid control, complex water treatment processes, and environmental regulations. Liquid control specialists Coerco are synonymous with engineering custom solutions for process water, potable water, chemicals and waste systems. With 30 years of experience, Coerco knows what it takes to deliver innovative wastewater solutions for industrial and commercial applications.

So, when global water technology leader Xylem needed to address a unique challenge for Sydney Water, they turned to Coerco for the right solution.

Sydney Water’s Picton Water Resource Recovery Facility treats wastewater from homes and businesses in the Picton area to produce recycled water, which is then used to irrigate crops at the Picton Farm. In collaboration with Xylem, Coerco were tasked to design, engineer and manufacture a floating pontoon, integrated pump system, and access gangway.Coerco

“As part of the project’s strict design requirements, and the nature of the environment in which the facility is located, we had to take into account a huge range of considerations,” said Warren Classen, head of projects for Coerco.

“These included the topography of the lake, submergence and fluctuations in water levels, water density, pump dimensions, pontoon layout and assembly, and the different materials in which the fluids would pass through.”

“An additional challenge that presented itself was the requirement to construct a floating pontoon platform stable enough to support the integrated pump system, while remaining compliant with industry standards including AS 4100:2020 (steel structures), AS 4997-2005 (floating structures), and AS 1657:2018 (fixed platforms, walkways, stairways and ladders).”

For Coerco, collaborating with technology pioneers and engineers to create world-class solutions, is part of its DNA. The liquid control specialists have supported some of Australia’s iconic mining and infrastructure projects, and it draws on this experience in every project, no matter the scope or scale. Its acquisition of Aquarius Wastewater Systems in 2023 has only further bolstered the company’s capability and technical know-how in wastewater management.

A pontoon designed for success

Coerco design engineer Marc Alberto outlined the methodical approach the team applied to the project. “The first stage of our unique project delivery pathway is design, so this saw us work closely with Xylem on the strict design parameters,” he said.

“The modular floating pontoon design not only streamlined installation, but will provide
a long-term, cost-effective solution to support Sydney Water’s critical irrigation
requirements for the Picton region.” – Marc Alberto, Coerco Design Engineer

“We produced high level drawings of the pump and pontoon system, followed by more detailed design work such as FDA analysis and buoyancy calculations based on pump system data. We also had to ensure the structure was not only compliant with the relevant Australian standards, but the design factored in critical elements like wind loading to allow the pontoon and its components to withstand those forces exerted on it in an outdoor environment.”

Alberto added that the modular pontoon design provided a cost-effective solution when transporting it from Coerco’s facility in Perth to the project site in Picton, Sydney. “The modular configuration also made assembly onsite easy for the client as all installation and commissioning documentation was provided within the package.”

Coerco encountered a challenge in the design phase with respect to how the pontoon would be safely launched into the water when levels were low. “The pontoon had to be first lowered onto uneven ground at the base of the lake before entering the water,” said Alberto.

Coerco“We conducted a detailed analysis of the lake’s topography, which provided critical insights in shaping the skid underneath the pontoon. The skid structure was intentionally lopsided so that when the pontoon platform landed on the hard uneven surface, the pumps remained within a maximum of one or two degrees off-level once operational. This meant that the skid ended up perfectly aligned to the profile of the land, and with buoyancy principles incorporated into the design, it remained completely level at rest when floating on water.”

In relation to the access walkway, this needed to be designed to allow facility personnel to freely and safely access the pontoon. Therefore, the Coerco design team needed to account for a maximum incline of the gangway to mitigate any potential slip hazards.

Overall, the collaborative effort between Coerco and Xylem led to the manufacture of a modular pontoon design that could be seamlessly installed at the Picton wastewater facility.

This not only saved Sydney Water time and money, but the mix of design, materials, and engineering methodology contributed to increased safety and compliance with Australian standards.


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