Integrated Systems Thinking in Projects

Why do we keep investing in just singular infrastructure solutions when tackling key environmental challenges? Why not look at integrated multi-faceted programs to solve our problems?

At Core Project Advisory we’ve spent many years in the project environment, helping organisations deliver their projects and programs and we love finding new ways to tackle various project problems and deliver outcomes for clients.

During Director Andy Wyer’s travels around America at the end of 2019, there were several approaches in program delivery that Andy immediately felt could be applicable to some of our work in Australia in the built environment.

One program of great interest was The Clean Rivers Project being delivered by DC Water, the water authority that manages water distribution and the collection and treatment of wastewater for the District of Columbia in the USA.

The Clean Rivers Project is an ongoing water quality improvement program that dramatically reduces combined sewerage overflows (known as CSOs which is a mixture of raw sewage and rainwater) which pollute the District’s waterways. It is a massive infrastructure and support program designed to capture and clean wastewater during rainfalls before reaching the waterways.

The Clean Rivers Project provides three main benefits:

  1. Controls sewage overflows to area waterways.
  2. Provides flood relief – alleviating chronic flooding of basements and streets that has plagued certain areas for many decades.
  3. It helps clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

This is an impressive multi-faceted program that includes a combination of:

  • Multiple large scale sewer diversion and overflow structures with flood mitigation capacity;
  • A series of green infrastructure projects and greening partnerships;
  • Downspout disconnection program; and
  • An innovative green infrastructure job training program.

Collectively the initiatives in this program of work are tangibly delivering socio-economic and environmental benefits and outcomes, even while many of the projects continue to be delivered. Andy was fortunate to see some of this progress firsthand.

What Andy liked about this approach, is that it’s not just one big infrastructure investment to say, “job done”. What he learned is the multi-faceted aspects and processes utilised in this program, demonstrate the kind of integrated systems thinking that he believes we could use more of in Australia, particularly with pressing environmental problems, including our natural hazard mitigation and resilience initiatives.

With thanks to DC Water and Hazen for making the experience happen

Reach out to us at Core Project Advisory. We would love to hear your thoughts on this or even help you with your project insights and learning.