Water recycling plant upgrades ensure they are future-ready

Published: 11 Apr 2022

It's amazing the difference a spring clean can make!

Council has recently completed a major overhaul of one of the main water recycling plants servicing our region.

In what was a coordinated effort between both council and specialist contractors, the Mackay South Water Recycling Facility (MSWRF) underwent one of the biggest maintenance projects ever undertaken by council at a water treatment plant.

The facility, located at Bakers Creek, is an integral part of our region, recycling the wastewater from more than 63,000 residents.

Mayor Greg Williamson said after council took management of the facility back inhouse in 2019, investigations were undertaken to assess its condition and asset life.

“It was essential the facility was maintained in order to continue to provide the best outcome for our water recycling scheme and to future-proof it for the growing population of our region,” Mayor Williamson said.

“The key assets at this facility are the four sequence batch reactors (SBRs), or processing tanks, which treat the wastewater.

“These SBRs are aerated by racks of pipe-mounted diffusers that pump air into the water to assist with breaking down the pollutants.

“In order to ensure the highest quality water was being produced, the diffusers across the four batch reactors were replaced.

“This was a process that took place over three months and with a huge team effort between contractors, council’s own maintenance operations teams and our environmental and laboratory staff,” he said.

Each SBR, holding over one million litres of water each, had to be taken offline and emptied one at a time so that plant operations could be maintained with only reduced capacity.

Once emptied, the solid waste remaining in each tank had to be removed – over 100 tonnes from each tank.

The old diffusers were then removed so that new ones could be installed. Each SBR had almost 500 diffuser arms that had to be installed, each with four diffuser discs attached, equating to almost 2000 discs for each SBR.

Then the SBR had to be tested and refilled so that the process could begin on the next one.

The total project across the four SBRs required the transfer of five million litres of wastewater, more than 500 tonnes of solid waste and the installation of almost 2000 diffuser arms and 8000 diffuser discs.

Council’s Mackay North Water Recycling Facility at Bucasia, which has two SBRs, also underwent the same maintenance process in 2020.