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Decommissioned water treatment plant presents aquaculture opportunity

An old wastewater treatment plant in Queensland could be given a new lease on life, with Rockhampton Regional Council (RRC) considering converting it into an aquaculture precinct.

The West Rockhampton Treatment Plant (WRTP) was built in 1962 and is currently being decommissioned. All waste flow will be diverted to the South Rockhampton Sewage Treatment Plant.

RRC has been working with the Queensland Government’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to determine possible sites for aquaculture development in the region, and identified WRTP as a potential location.

Mayor Margaret Strelow said the existing infrastructure could be reengineered to create a sophisticated tank-based aquaculture system.

“Decommissioning the site will leave us with ponds and concrete tanks that may lend themselves to an aquaculture farm, potentially breeding fingerlings to support the restocking of our local barramundi or higher valued saltwater species,” she said.

“With its close proximity to the barrage, the site already has power and access to both fresh and saltwater, which is essential infrastructure for any aquaculture development.”

Strelow said the WRTP site could play a vital role in the development of Rockhampton’s aquaculture industry and provide a significant amount of product for domestic and international markets.

“It is very early stages at the moment as we begin to explore the possibilities, and we will work with an aquaculture specialist to determine what type of operation would best suit the existing infrastructure,” she said.

“We are also developing an Aquaculture Industry Development Plan … which will outline a series of different strategies to develop the industry within our region.”

The Council has been exploring ways to encourage new investment in the region’s agriculture industry.

A delegation from RRC will visit Singapore next month to discuss aquaculture investment with representatives from Enterprise Singapore and infrastructure consultancy firm Surbana Jurong.

The trip is being funded by an Australia-ASEAN Council grant from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

RRC established a relationship with Surbana Jurong through a trade mission to Singapore in 2016. The company then visited the region earlier this year.

“This grant allows us to continue these conversations, and puts us in a position to take advantage of the opportunities that the aquaculture industry can bring to our community, including food security, economic stimulus and jobs,” Strelow said.

Surbana Jurong and Enterprise Singapore are expected to visit Rockhampton in February 2019 to view potential aquaculture sites in the region.