Parkes Shire Council's new water infrastructure was recognised for environmental and community benefits at the Tidy Towns Sustainable Communities Awards held in Orange over the weekend.

The annual awards, hosted by the Keep Australia Beautiful foundation, celebrate the sustainability achievements of rural and regional communities across Australia.

Parkes was presented with the Community Spirit and Inclusion Award for the Water and Sewage Treatment Plant Community Open Days, as well as the Renewable Energy Award for the integration of solar systems at the new facilities.

While it is widely understood that water is a valuable and increasingly scarce resource, the energy cost of providing clean and safe water and wastewater treatment is often unrecognised. Urban water networks are surprisingly energy intensive, especially if water has to be pumped over significant distances.

Parkes Shire Mayor, Cr Ken Keith OAM said “by embedding sustainable practices into everyday operations, Council is safeguarding the security of our water supply and ensuring our major infrastructure is energy efficient, environmentally friendly and cost effective.”

The new Water Treatment Plant boasts a 107kW solar PV system to offset power consumption, and a further 298kW was installed at the Sewage Treatment Plant and the Advanced Water Plant.

The combined 405kW solar systems provided immediate benefits, saving $88,866 on grid electricity in the first year of operation, and the equivalent carbon emission reductions of taking 155 cars off the road.

“Council takes its responsibility to ratepayers very seriously," Cr Keith continued, "implementing sustainable systems creates environmental, social and economic benefits, and the positive legacy will be felt well into the future."

Parkes Shire Deputy Mayor, Cr Barbara Newton attended the awards on behalf of Council.

"Our community is at the front and centre of all our planning, which is why we wanted to showcase the new facilities to the residents in the series of Community Open Days." Cr Newton said.

The Community Open Days were held at the Water Treatment Plant, Sewage Treatment Plant, and Advanced Water Recycling Facility in March and April this year.

The open days gave residents the opportunity to visit the new facilities and learn about treatment processes and the infrastructure's sustainable features. Additional planning ensured that patrons with accessibility needs could still take part in the tours. Councillors and volunteers from SES and Rotary also donated their time to make the open days a success.

With over 500 residents participating in the initial open day in March, the April open day was expanded to include 'encore' tours of the Sewage Treatment Plant.

"We are absolutely thrilled to have been presented with the Community Spirit and Inclusion Award, as it reflects the tremendous dedication and teamwork displayed across Council's staff," Cr Newton added.

"The open days were undertaken on top of staff's core duties, which included regular service provision and on-going construction, and we thank all staff who put in extra effort to make the events such a huge success."