Wine Country or Water Country - Barossa Valley Tour Wrap-Up

Posted 8 June 2017

On Thursday 4 May an intrepid bunch of water industry people boarded a bus in Adelaide and journeyed north to the Barossa Valley. The first stop was at Stockwell WWTP. The group was met by Michael Clark, Community Wastewater Management Systems Co-ordinator for Barossa Valley Council. Michael described the role of Barossa Valley Council in the management of wastewater, the history of the site and the treatment plant itself. The site has a long history, starting out as a clay pit and once being used as a rubbish dump. Michael had some interesting stories of the things that they ‘discovered’ during construction of the WWTP.

Next on the tour was a visit to the North Para Environment Control (NPEC) wastewater treatment plant in Nuriootpa. Mike Carson and Darren Dugmore of JJC Group who operate the plant were tour guides for this stop. The plant treats wastewater streams from a number of different wineries and the Tarac distillery. The NPEC consists of two main treatment streams for low and high strength wastes, both featuring covered anaerobic lagoons for the primary treatment phase but with different secondary treatment streams. Treated wastewater from the site is used for irrigation of nearby vineyards. Following the visit to NPEC it was time for lunch and the group visited the Nurioopta bakery for nourishment and networking.

After lunch was a visit to the Yalumba Oxford Landing Winery. Chris Leggett, Logistics Manager, showed the group around the site. Visiting the day after the end of vintage meant the site was in clean-down mode following the intense period of 24 hour operation as grapes from all over the region were brought to the site to be turned into wine. The tour followed the path taken by the grapes, from the weighbridge, through the crushers and on to the wine making process. Wine making on an industrial scale is a fascinating adventure. Water management on the site includes the wastewater treatment plant, stormwater harvesting, and the innovative liquid waste separation systems that keep stormwater separate from the wastewater. The combined wastewater and stormwater systems provide a sizeable proportion of the irrigation requirements for the site.

The last stop of the day was at the Barossa Infrastructure Limited (BIL) office in Tanunda. BIL operates a bulk water system providing irrigation water throughout the valley. Paul Shanks, General Manager of BIL, gave the group a presentation on how the system operates, their recent improvements to the control and monitoring systems and their upcoming development plans for expansion.  Following the informative presentation, participants were given the opportunity to taste a number of different wines from across the region and some local cheeses before the return trip to Adelaide.

Overall it was a good day out with informative visits, presentations and opportunities to network with industry colleagues. The cheese and wine tasting was an added bonus!