The first of 15 new water stations for local wildlife were installed at Gilead on Friday, giving animals like koalas a safe place to take a drink.
The stations, which will be installed on land owned by Lendlease along Appin Road at Gilead (part of the important north-south koala corridor), feature a 25-litre container of water and a water bowl which is prevented from overflowing by a float.
The installation and management of the stations is a collaboration between Lendlease, Conservation Volunteers Australia and Greater Sydney Local Land Services.
Lendlease senior development manager Mark Anderson said the provision of water in the bush would hopefully discourage native critters like koalas from seeking water in urban areas, putting themselves in danger.
"As we saw last summer with those long dry spells, our animals are increasingly looking for water and unfortunately that seems to gravitate them towards roads and into people's yards, where they have conflict with urban development, cars and people," he said. "Being able to produce water stations for the bush is good and keeps them out of harm's way."
Mr Anderson said the site where the first station was installed - Brown's Bush - was a sandstone shale transitional forest, which attracted many native animals.
"The soil in this area is likely to produce trees that have high nutrient value, which the koalas and other animals like," he said. "This site is well away from any development and it's going to be protected as a biobank. It's going to be subject to ongoing bush maintenance and management, and we have the opportunity to have it combined as part of the Department of Planning's Georges River koala park."
It's not just koalas which will benefit from the water station, but also animals like snakes, possums, kangaroos, lizards and even ducks.
Each of the stations will be set up with a camera to record animals which utilise it. The information will help in planning of future developments and also in more informed conservation efforts.
Conservation Volunteers Australia project manager of Wild Futures, Dave Jones, said he was excited to see what the cameras would record.
"The water station is not targetted at any specific animals, so anything that drinks can use it," he said.
"Koalas will use it, but obviously we want to help any of the little invertebrates or lizards that come along to have a drink as well.
"This project hasn't been done in the area before, so it's a bit of a mystery what the cameras will turn up - it's quite a nice experiment."
The water stations are just the first in a variety of conservation efforts planned by Lendlease, which is building a sizable housing development at the Mount Gilead site.
Others include wildlife-exclusion fencing, two underpasses beneath Appin Road and the conservation of 240 hectares of koala habitat.