Sewerage treatment plant upgrades complete

THREE sewerage treatment plants on the Eastern Shore have undergone a major upgrade that will improve sewage treatment standards and processes for homes and businesses connected to the TasWater sewerage network.

The works, which were recently completed by TasWater, formed part of a multi-million dollar upgrade of the small sewerage treatment plants across southern Tasmania.

The program involved a process of updating and improving the inlet works at the Risdon Vale, Midway Point and Sorell facilities, covering a range of civil, mechanical and electrical upgrades which TasWater chief executive officer Mike Brewster said would deliver a number of benefits for the community.

“The work has resulted in a big improvement in the way sewage enters the plant, in turn improving the efficiency of the sewerage treatment process,” he said.

“All this means the effluent being released back into the environment at the end of the process is cleaner and has less impact on our waterways.”

The first stage of treatment for sewage is the screening out of inorganic material such as hygiene products, wipes, plastics and grit which can reduce the effectiveness of the downstream treatment process.

“This material needs to be removed before it enters the treatment plants as it can’t be processed and risks damaging the aerators and disrupting the treatment process,” Mr Brewster said.

“This can lead to overflows and spills, damaging the environment.”

Central to the upgrades was the installation of new screening augers which act as a mechanical sieve, separating out the material which can’t be treated in the sewage plant from the waste water and depositing it directly into wheelie bins.

Mr Brewster said the upgrade of the intakes had also remedied significant occupation health and safety issues.

“Several of the original screening mechanisms required manual raking to clean them out which was an occupational health and safety risk for sewage plant operators,” he said.

“They also needed to handle the waste, exposing them to significant disease risks.”

As part of TasWater’s Zero Harm policy, all work involving water and sewerage plants upgrades must include workplace safety as a priority.

Mr Brewster said the presence of unsafe inlet screening systems was a key driver for this work program, which had amounted to nearly $6 million.

But he says the investment was well worth it.

“Our sewerage plant inlet works program, as well as improving the treatment process and improving environmental outcomes, is important in modernising the infrastructure across our smaller treatment plants.”

The upgrade will also link the facilities to TasWater’s new Network Operation Centre in Devonport providing around-the-clock remote monitoring.

“As well as improving the treatment process and environmental outcomes, our sewerage plant inlet works program is important in modernising the infrastructure across our smaller treatment plants,” he said.

“The works program has taken several years to complete and has covered 11 individual sites over that time, making the plants more efficient, safer to operate and improving environmental compliance.”

While this update of inlet facilities will improve the screening out of material that can affect the operation of sewerage treatment plants, TasWater reminds customers of the importance of not allowing products like wet wipes, nappies, cotton buds or other similar material to enter the sewerage system.

Caption: TasWater operator/trades assistants Geoff Wiggins, left, and Glen Johnson pictured at the new inlet facility at Midway Point.