Building the foundations of the future.

Babbage has promoted its infrastructure credentials at a major conference in Hamilton, as the country faces the challenge of maintaining, replacing and expanding ageing systems.

Hosting the chill-out centre for delegates at the Water New Zealand Conference & Expo 2018, Babbage Infrastructure Business Manager Suman Khareedi put the spotlight on the consultancy’s strong history in providing infrastructure services in New Zealand.

“Babbage began as an infrastructure company and we’ve worked in that area throughout our history,” he said. “One of the things I highlighted is that even though we are not that well known in the public sector, we have, for example, done a substantial number of projects where we have designed and built treatment plants.

“Some of the treatment plants we have built in the dairy sector are bigger than what we see in small towns. So our focus at the conference was on highlighting our capabilities in the three-waters sector.”

The annual conference, which ran from September 19-21 and attracts more than 1500 water-engineering professionals from New Zealand and overseas, is the largest in the “three-waters” - drinkable water, wastewater and stormwater - arena.

“The infrastructure sector is faced with maintaining or replacing ageing infrastructure while dealing with challenges like climate change, a population that is getting older, increased urbanisation, and the technological revolution,” he said. “Extreme weather events and long spells of drought, and increased urbanisation will heighten the urgency to upgrade infrastructure. The ageing population, on the other hand, will make funding these works extremely difficult in the future.

“Meanwhile many cities and towns around New Zealand are faced with additional challenges of load fluctuations on their infrastructure due to significant population variations resulting from tourism. This makes many of the funding models such as targeted rates inadequate.”

Suman said the Babbage infrastructure team was looking to alleviate these challenges through energy and nutrient recovery, the reuse of resources, and water-sensitive designs that mimic nature. This involved offering cost-neutral options, incorporating technology to reduce operational and maintenance costs, and designing smart systems that allowed infrastructure operators to cushion the impact of urban intensification and widely varying seasonal loads.

“We have the capabilities,” he said. “We have engineers who can design pipelines and pump stations, we have engineers who can design treatment facilities, and we have a team of ecologists and environmental engineering people who can design stream restoration works and enhance natural water bodies like lakes, ponds and rivers.

“What sets Babbage apart is that we don’t offer services taking a cookie-cutter approach. We listen to our clients and we deliver bespoke solutions to cater for their needs. We have the expertise and we’re scaling it to a bigger size.”

At the heart of the Babbage approach is the concept of “green urbanism” - designing developments that bring facilities to the residents, reducing the need for travel and thereby cutting the pressure on roading and other infrastructure. It also means that instead of piping water and wastewater vast distances in cities and towns, recycling and treatment are done in the centres themselves - apartment complexes, suburbs and other developments - reducing the demand for water and easing the load on infrastructure.

“In simple terms we are building capabilities to build smart, sustainable and resilient cities of the future.”

Babbage consultants hosted the Chill Out Zone at the Water New Zealand Conference & Expo 2018