Treating organic wastewater

Wednesday, 02 May, 2007

EBCRC researchers at the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), together with industry participants Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) and the Tatiara Meat Company, have developed a process where high-strength wastewater is turned into valuable products.

Meat processing wastewater streams, which are expensive to dispose of, are high in nutrients and, if left untreated, are harmful to the environment.

"Wastewater streams are a problem for all processors, not only because of the technical issues, but also the cost of treatment with no financial return," said Dr Stewart McGlashan, manager environment and co-products at MLA.

"The project is demonstrating a low-cost solution to a high-cost problem and it can actually result in a sound financial return for the meat processing industry," Dr McGlashan continued.

MLA began working with the researchers at SARDI towards an alternative way to treat organic wastewater. Through a series of stages, microbes digest nutrients in the wastewater, which sterilises and clarifies the water, reducing overall nutrient levels. Nutrients are further reduced by algal growth, which in turn supports zooplankton growth and finally supports the efficient growth of fish. Trials in the multi-pond wastewater treatment system have been delivering promising results.

The types of fish that have been successfully grown in the ponds at Tatiara are carp, ornamental gold fish and silver perch.

Over the next 4-5 years, the EBCRC participants hope to commission a fully operational commercial facility.

"The possibilities for this technology are very exciting as the biosystem can be applied to any industry discharging non-toxic waste. MLA's involvement in EBCRC's research and development projects mean that our members will be one of the first to benefit from these exciting discoveries," Dr McGlashan said.

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