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Innovative water projects in the running for Vic sustainability awards

A wastewater treatment plant using worms to reduce its environmental footprint and a utility with an ambitious plan to take action on climate change are among the finalists in the 2019 Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Awards.

The awards program was developed to celebrate Victorians leading the way in sustainability, with categories including environmental protection, community, health, education and government.

Up for the Environmental Protection Award is Booth Transport’s Strathmerton Wastewater Treatment Plant. 

Booth Transport moves milk and dairy products across several states and territories, and its Strathmerton Depot in regional Victoria is the first milk transfer station owned and run by a logistics company.

When setting up the depot, Booth Transport Project Manager Brendan Edwards said including an on-site wastewater treatment plant was vital.

“Bringing milk in is fine, but with all the cleaning and rinsing of the line it becomes a waste stream,” he said.

“We wanted to be able to reuse this waste stream as clean water.”

The plant treats 125 ML of wastewater a year, which comes from cleaning up to 50 tankers per day as well as rinsing silos.

But the real innovation comes in an unexpected form: worms. In an Australian first, the project combines a worm farm with desalination as part of the water treatment process.

The water is filtered for dairy proteins, to be ingested by the worms, before going through a desalination process. It is then used for irrigation.

The company said this will reduce its carbon emissions by about 3000 tonnes per year and put an additional 121 ML of recycled water into the irrigation system. 

Barwon Water is also in the running for an award, with its zero emissions program a finalist in the government category. 

This is a recognition of the regional utility’s target to use 100% renewable energy by 2025 and cut its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2030.

The business is already well on its way thanks to a series of solar power projects, including an 8100 panel installation at the Black Rock water reclamation plant. This is the largest of its kind in the Australian water industry and is projected to meet 35% of the plant’s annual energy needs.

It also switched on a 250 kW solar array in Torquay in 2018, and earlier this year announced a new energy partnership with 12 other Victorian water corporations to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

This saw the businesses join together to purchase renewable energy as a collective, which meant a cheaper rate for the organisations and their customers.   

To see all the 2019 Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Awards finalists, click here.