Source: The Mercury, 10 March, 2001, p.23


Taking the 'waste' out of water

 

An innovative approach to dealing with effluent

from the two sewage-treatment plants in

Brighton municipality is reaping major benefits

for the community and the environment.

CHARLES WATERHOUSE reports.

 
 
BRIGHTON Council stopped discharges of treated effluent from 
its plants at Brighton and Bridgewater at the start of last year, 
setting a model for other Tasmanian municipal councils to follow. 
 
   This was achieved using a 
grant of $788,500 from the 
Natural Heritage Trust Clean 
Seas program and funding 
from the council and other 
sources to develop a system to 
recycle effluent from the 
municipality's two sewage 
plants.  
 
   The result is that treated 
effluent no longer flows into 
the Jordan and Derwent rivers 
and local farmers have 
irrigation. 
 
   They can obtain treated 
wastewater and stormwater 
from Bridgewater for $10 a 
megalitre - a megalitre is a 
million litres, about the 
content of an Olympic size 
pool. 
 
   In the first 11 months of 
operation, about 630 
megalitres of treated effluent 
and 40 megelitres of 
stormwater was sold to 
farmers. 
 
   Because the effluent is not 
going into the Derwent, the 
nutrient loading on the river 
has been reduced by 6 per cent, 
and the annual loading of 
phosphorous by 7800kg and 
nitrogen by 28,000kg.  
 
   About 275ha of farmland is 
under irrigation for the first 
time this summer and being 
used to grow poppies, broccoli 
seed, barley, oaten hay, 
fennel, hemp and pasture. 
 
   The new irrigation area has 
created four part-time 
jobs managing irrigation and 
11 part-time jobs with the 
crops. Some land is being 
marketed for potential 
vineyard development.
 
   Brighton Mayor Tony Foster 
said: "If it wasn't for the 
project, many of the farmers 
would be destitute right now. 
 
   "They're growing more 
crops and the whole attitude of 
farmers has changed be-
cause we've created economic 
growth." 
 
   Back Tea Tree Rd farmer 
Chris Gunn's family has lived 
in the area for five genera- 
tions. 
 
   "We are winners and the 
Derwent wins too," he said. 
 
   "The district has been 
doing it tough due to a 
recession and drought." 
 
   About 100ha of his 460ha 
property can be irrigated. 
 
   Mr Gunn said records proved 
the areas's rainfall had dropped 
over the years. 
 
   Brighton Council does not 
regard selling the effluent as 
an income-generating 
opportunity, in fact the actual 
cost of the treated water is 
about $40 a megalitre. 
 
   But the council sees the 
benefits helping the 
environment and the 
community, and employment 
of people through the 
irrigation scheme.


Where to next?

Student Questions for this article
Teacher Discussion of this article
Index - Related articles
Index - Number
Main Index - Numeracy in the News