New wastewater treatment option for SA councils

Thursday, 10 March, 2016 | Supplied by: Flinders University

New wastewater treatment option for SA councils

A wastewater treatment system designed at Flinders University has been accepted as an alternative to existing passive lagoon systems for use in South Australia. Flinders University Professor Howard Fallowfield said the new system is smaller, faster and more effective than current systems, creating the potential to reclaim more water for alternative use.

Wastewater treatment systems are used by South Australian councils for towns outside metropolitan areas sewered by SA Water and in locations such as mining camps. Centralised treatment systems are commonly installed in non-sewered (mostly rural) areas, generally where disposal of effluent by on-site systems is made difficult by space constraints, poor soil absorption, failed soakages or other issues that create a potential public health issue.

With funding from the State Community Wastewater Scheme (CWMS), the Flinders research team installed a high-rate algal pond at Kingston-on-Murray for a side-by-side trial with a conventional system. The trial saw the new system independently evaluated and subsequently approved by the SA Department of Health.

“Our final report demonstrated that our system occupied about 40% of the area previously required, with the smaller footprint opening up the technology to other rural communities that previously had insufficient land area,” Professor Fallowfield said.

“These sustainable, low-energy systems are [also] cost-effective to run, and the capital cost of construction is also about 40% of the previous system for effluent-only schemes and marginally higher for blackwater schemes.”

Independent reviews by the Australia Water Quality Centre validated the system and found that its ability to remove pathogens was equal to, or better than, the existing system. Professor Fallowfield noted, “Whereas the current system takes 66 days to do the treatment, we can do it in between five and 10 days.”

Professor Fallowfield said with more reclaimed water available to irrigate woodlots, the new system is a winner both environmentally and economically. Furthermore, “With the configuration pre-approved, a consulting engineer can apply the technology off the shelf,” he said.

The SA Department of Health Wastewater Management Group, the regulator of the state’s wastewater treatment systems, has accepted the new system. The SA Local Government Association, which administers state subsidies for new council wastewater treatment systems, will meanwhile be alerting councils to the new option.

Image caption: Professor Howard Fallowfield at the trial high-rate algal pond system at Kingston-on-Murray.

Originally published here.

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