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North, MacLaren
Keeping it Going: The Heritage Management of Active Infrastructure
Australian Journal of Multi-disciplinary Engineering
vol. 3, no. 1, Engineers Australia, Barton, Australian Capital Territory, 2004, pp. 11-17

Much of Sydney's engineering heritage consists of active infrastructure, which often dates from the 19th or early 20th century. This infrastructure was designed to fulfil the needs and requirements of its day, but in many cases continues to fulfil a valuable function to the contemporary community. As the process of assessing and listing historic infrastructure has become more rigorous in recent years, more and more active, yet historically significant, infrastructure has been captured by this process and is now subject to a range of statutory controls designed to protect heritage significance. The other side of this issue, however, is that the demands and restrictions on historic infrastructure have changed dramatically since its initial commissioning. Issues such as infrastructure upgrades required to meet modern engineering and building codes, operating licences, OH&S standards and pollution emission standards can conflict with the fabric-centred approach to heritage conservation which is emphasised in most statutory protection regimes. While some of these issues have been faced with respect to historic buildings (particularly OH&S and access issues) others present substantial challenges to the managers of active infrastructure. These issues are explored through a discussion of the efforts Sydney Water Corporation is making to manage its heritage infrastructure, which includes 220 listed heritage items, of which approximately 90% are still active in providing water, sewerage and drainage services to the greater Sydney area. Innovative solutions are being used to balance operational and heritage issues, including different approaches to the preparation and use of conservation management plans, staff education and the use of ecologically sustainable development framework to underpin the practical, ongoing management of Sydney's historic water, sewerage and drainage infrastructure.