Council wins NSW award for innovative treatment plant

Friday, 28 June

Lismore City Council has won an excellence award at the 2019 Local Government Awards for the innovative – and under budget – $25 million South Lismore Sewage Treatment Plant.

The award was presented last week in Sydney in the category of ‘Asset Management and Infrastructure Initiatives’ and recognised Council’s focus on innovation and environmental best-practice. It also rewarded Council for delivering the project on time and under budget despite Lismore experiencing one of its worst floods in history during construction.

Council Project Manager Paul Smith explained that this is the first optimised IDEA (Intermittent Decant Extended Aeration) plant in the country. While there are many IDEA plants around Australia, this project incorporated additional technology to optimise efficiency and environmental performance.

“This has delivered operational savings of $400,000 per annum for chemical usage, reduced biosolids disposal and electricity,” Paul explained.

“That is a significant saving for ratepayers and greatly reduces the ongoing operating budget over its lifecycle.”

The plant is home to a 334kW solar farm – the largest in the Northern Rivers – which generates around 30% of the plant’s electricity.

The project also provided a $60 million economic output, creating 274 jobs during construction, and provides Lismore with increased sewage capacity for the next 50 years.

“It was a very complex project designed and constructed over many years, with a huge effort from many Council departments and outside stakeholders, so we are really proud to win this award. Our focus was always on innovation and that has really paid off for the local community and the environment,” Paul said.

“More than 8000 cubic metres of polluted sludge was removed from the site, greatly improving the nearby wetlands, and decommissioning of the dilapidated old plant has eliminated the area’s significant odour issues.”

The decommissioned plant site was landscaped and now provides 5000 square metres of flood-free land ready for development. Council also used 2000 tonnes of crushed glass sand as pipe bedding, reducing its recycled glass stockpile by one third.

“And if I can just get my science on for a moment, this new plant represents the first Australian application of optimised IDEA process and also cloth media filters with a 5-micron nominal aperture,” Paul said.

“That won’t mean much to non-scientists, but believe me, it’s very cool! It means we’re using a very fine filtering technique, creating a much cleaner effluent that’s better for our environment, and also utilising biological means to remove phosphorus rather than using chemicals.”

The upgraded South Lismore Sewage Treatment Plant is able to service 22,500 people, catering for expected population increases including growth on the western side of the city due to the North Lismore Plateau.

Council also received a highly commended at the Local Government Awards in the ‘Local Economic Contribution’ category for Lismore’s annual street food festival, Eat the Street.


Image: South Lismore Sewage Treatment Plant Project Manager Paul Smith (left) and Water and Wastewater Strategic Engineer Rod Haig receiving the award in Sydney.

 

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