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New SA Water treatment plant sets national sustainability record

SA Water’s new Murray Bridge Wastewater Treatment plant has been awarded the highest design rating to date from the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA). 

The utility’s $52 million project received an ‘excellent’ rating of 72, just nudging out Sydney Water, which had been in the lead with a score of 69 for its Lower South Creek Treatment Program. 

SA Water Senior Manager of Community and Stakeholder Engagement Matthew Bonnett said the ISCA rating was testament to the efforts of the project team, contractors and suppliers, who put sustainability and environmental management at the centre of the project. 

“This includes building climate change resiliency into the treatment plant’s design, minimising waste, dust, noise and vegetation removal during infrastructure installation, sourcing local equipment and supplies where possible and investing in innovative treatment processes for ongoing operation,” Bonnett said

“A big part of the project’s success has also been working with the local community in the lead-up to and during construction, with site tours and tailor-made education workshops for local school students.” 

The new treatment plant replaced a 1970s-built facility, aiming to support local population and industry growth through a daily capacity increase of 2 ML and enhanced treatment processes.

Bonnett said it was important that design went beyond basic reliability to ensure operations did not negatively impact the surrounding community or Lower Murray environment.

He said the utility worked with the Environment Protection Authority to investigate solutions to eliminate odours and the potential for discharge into the River Murray during flood events.

“The outcome of this assessment was to adopt improved treatment processes and move the plant away from the river floodplain and residential areas," Bonnett said.

“This is a fantastic result for the local community, and it’s pleasing to see that after years of planning and engagement, this new and improved facility is now operating as part of the wider sewer network, and will continue to for many years to come.” 

The new plant incorporates an odour control unit, which consists of a bio-trickling filter and activated carbon tanks, designed to remove 99.95% of odour. 

“It also has an advanced biological treatment process called a ‘moving bed biofilm reactor’, which helps to break down sewage into sludge in a more compact, efficient and adaptable way than conventional methods, and Murray Bridge is one of the first non-industrial wastewater treatment plants in Australia to use this technology,” Bonnett said. 

“As with the previous facility, the plant will continue to recycle 100% of its treated wastewater for irrigation use at a Department of Defence training area and a nearby pastoral property, and the on-site solar array will generate 150 kilowatt hours a day, helping to power the treatment plant."

To find out more about the treatment plant, you can watch the presentations from our SA Branch site tour last year.