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