A new water treatment plant at the Noosa North Shore resort in Queensland has the potential to save governments millions by removing the need for large dam infrastructure projects, according to its designers, EcoNova .
EcoNova's accredited treatment process produces Grade A+ non-potable water from blackwater and greywater.
Environmental experts, policy-makers and land developers were suitably impressed at the launch of the Noosa North Shore treatment plant.
The water reclamation plant, commissioned by EcoNova in February 2006, is designed to meet all the resort’s non-potable water requirements using wastewater treated to Grade A+ standards, surpassing the EPA guidelines for treatment, which according to EcoNova has not been possible until recently.
The significant advantage of the EcoNova plant is its capacity to treat all wastewater, including sewage effluent (blackwater), as opposed to the more traditional grey water reclamation systems, which source water from bathroom, laundry and kitchen sources.
About 60% of first use water results in grey water, with the remaining 40% ending up in blackwater waste streams.
By including effluent treatment, the Noosa North Shore resort will be able to reclaim a much larger amount of water.
In addition to reducing the demand for fresh drinking water from the state’s dams, EcoNova said that the treatment system reduced the amount of nutrients and pollutants leaving the site, helping to preserve the ecological balance at the tourist resort, two hours north of Brisbane.
Blackwater has far higher levels of potentially harmful contaminants than grey water, i.e. nine times the nitrogen content of grey water, so the ability to treat this wastewater onsite significantly reduces the risk of pollutants being released into the environment.
According to Resort developer Petrac, the $1.2mn wastewater treatment plant was a significant improvement over the previous system inherited, when it bought the site.
Petrac worked with the Environmental Protection Agency and its environmental engineers Cardno to identify how Petrac could sustainably reuse wastewater, while meeting stringent environmental standards.
According to Cardno project engineer, potable water consumption would be reduced by 10-15% at the site by watering lawns with reclaimed water and replacing the sewage treatment plant with the state-of-the-art water reclamation plant.
As per EcoNova, other developers have shown interest in smaller versions of the plant for use in isolated areas or where infrastructure is not available.
According to EcoNova, the system was a world first, with the potential to offer developers, governments and industries, considerable savings in infrastructure and maintenance.
A plant similar in size to Noosa North Shore’s unit could save a community 60% of normal potable water usage, due to the quality and many uses of reclaimed water, through toilet flushing, car washing and watering gardens.
All infrastructure operates onsite and is independent, including harvesting, purification, recycling and sewage.
According to Innovation and Commercialisation Development at the University of Queensland’s Faculty of Engineering, Physical Sciences and Architecture, the EcoNova treatment system is superior to all other commercially available technologies, and is considered to be the advanced of its kind known to exist in the world.