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And this is where the magic happens. The pipes, just 100mm in diameter and sitting 50mm apart, encourage the growth of self-perpetuating, sulphur-oxidising bacteria, which look like a thin, sticky grey fuzz, on their insides. These bacteria are already natural inhabitants of the Waikato River and gobble up to 80% of the hydrogen sulphide in the water as it passes through the bioreactor. Water takes about four minutes to traverse the system. It took the best part of 10 years for Contact and its science partners, which included Beca and GNS Science, to work out how to best harness the bacteria, already used in industrial settings ranging from sewage treatment to oil and gas extraction, for Wairakei. The deadline to get the bioreactor built was non-negotiable, as the new consent conditions were to take effect from August 2012. The alternative – reducing generation from Wairakei power station to limit discharge – wasn’t an option. So it was under huge time pressure that Beca, which won the design tender, Downer, selected as construction contractor, and Contact got to work in late 2010. Talent across Downer was shoulder-tapped to join Lingard’s seven-strong engineering team; Lingard says he was “just the captain or the coach”. Most projects of this type tend to fall into stages, with each offered for tender in a bid to keep costs down, but this takes time. It’s no secret that tendering can also work against cross-company trust and efficiency; Lingard and his colleagues sought a collaborative, openbook approach to avoid any delays whilst maintaining what de Lima calls “competitive tension”. SETTING A COLLABORATIVE TONE FROM THE BEGINNING, SAYS LINGARD, “BROKE DOWN SOME BARRIERS. THIS METHOD ALLOWED A CLOSER WORKING RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CLIENT, DESIGNER AND CONTRACTOR, and it also gave a forum for each party to understand what they wanted to get out of the project. Being able to see things from another person’s point of view tended to modify your behaviour; you did things on trust, and things got done faster – which was pretty important.” Roles were not rigidly defined: “It was acceptable for any of the parties to discuss something or influence the others.” Lingard spent six weeks alongside the Beca team as it worked on the design, advising on constructability. “I was able to look at the design as it was coming out and influence it from a programme point of view, using our experience from other jobs and our knowledge of site conditions. This also allowed us to work ahead of time on developing construction methodologies. That was a massive advantage … and allowed the design and construction to overlap by about three months.” Says Beca’s Technical Director of Chemical Engineering, Andrew Peacock: “We felt from very early on that all participants were united with a common goal of delivering the project and were prepared to understand the issues we had. It meant that solutions to issues were able to be reached in a constructive fashion and designs were able to be discussed and reviewed prior to becoming construction reality.” Trust, adds Peacock, was fundamental: “Trust means your first thought Energy Project of the Year Deloitte Energy Excellence Awards 2013 Awarded to Contact Energy and Downer NZ 12 / DOWNER / IN BLACK & WHITE


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