Sustainable water management for industrial hub

Friday, 21 September, 2012

Heavy industry commonly has a high water supply demand, which not only requires expensive water and wastewater infrastructure but also uses a significant amount of energy in pumping water from source to user and return for treatment. Faced with these challenges, Albury City Council has adopted a non-conventional approach to the provision of water and sewer infrastructure for Nexus, the city’s 187 hectare precinct for large and heavy industry. The approach will reduce costs for the precinct and businesses located there and will increase water efficiency.

Released in November 2011, the Nexus industrial precinct is located adjacent to the Hume Freeway on the northern edge of Albury. It incorporates the existing businesses Norske Skog, Overall Forge and the Ettamogah Rail Hub.

Facing significant duplication costs for water and wastewater infrastructure to the Nexus precinct, AlburyCity engaged consultants GHD to develop the concept design and cost estimates for these services for Nexus. In doing so, the opportunities for an Integrated Water Cycle Management (IWCM) strategy became apparent.

Traditional methods of servicing industrial development lots to meet the requirements of high water supply demand industries results in overcapitalisation of infrastructure. The basic principles of IWCM consider the whole of catchment integration of natural resource use and management. It addresses all water users, water sources and their sustainable and equitable use. The implementation of this strategy is a significant divergence from the traditional approaches to industrial development.

The existing water infrastructure to the Nexus precinct will be used solely for potable purposes. Tenants will be required to capture roof water for all for non-potable water uses, process water and site landscaping irrigation.

A study of long-term rainfall volumes and typical industrial water demand has shown that on-site capture should meet the needs of all but the largest of industrial water users. Existing tenant Overall Forge is already self-sufficient for both potable and cooling water; off roof capture is stored in tanks with a capacity of 5 ML, sufficient for six months’ supply.

It is believed that on-site capture will indefinitely defer the need for AlburyCity to duplicate potable water mains and it is possible that it will eliminate the need altogether.

The Norse Skog paper mill sources its water via an AlburyCity pipeline direct from the Murray River and has its own high-capacity water treatment plant. If new industry locating in Nexus requires significant volumes of process water, there is capacity for Norse Skog to supply raw water, potable water or a combination of treated process water and cooling water.

In addition, the development standards for the precinct will require the use of water-sensitive urban-design measures. These will include minimising impervious surfaces and promoting the use of infiltration areas, grassed buffer strips and swales and rain gardens.

Determining potential demands of the sewage discharge for industrial areas is highly uncertain as the actual flows will be dependent upon the industries that establish there. To manage this uncertainty, it is proposed to utilise spare capacity in the existing Norse Skog owned and operated sewage treatment plant, while simultaneously preparing to extend the AlburyCity sewerage infrastructure to Nexus. This allows for a staged extension of Albury’s sewerage network, reducing upfront capital outlay while the uptake of sites in Nexus occurs.

The implementation of this IWCM strategy will enable a lower capital cost implementation for the council and also reduces service contributions for business developing within Nexus. The strategy ensures their water security will deliver significant ongoing cost savings from their on-site capture of industrial water and will enable them to employ contemporary water efficiency sustainable practices from the first stages of the development.

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