Following community feedback, the Fraser Coast Regional Council will move ahead with plans to upgrade the Pulgul Sewage Treatment Plant and expand its recycled water reuse scheme to ensure it can meet the needs of a growing city.
“It is anticipated that the Hervey Bay population will increase significantly and the Pulgul plant is already near capacity,” Deputy Mayor Darren Everard said.
The decision to expand the Pulgul treatment works and reuse scheme follows months of community engagement and feedback.
Stakeholder engagement specialists, Engagement Plus, facilitated community consultation which called for feedback on three options:
Option 1 – Upgrade Nikenbah Sewage Treatment Plant and reuse scheme to accommodate growth;
Option 2 – Upgrade Pulgul Sewage Treatment Plant and build a new outfall offshore from the marina, and continue to use the existing reuse scheme, and
Option 3 – Upgrade Pulgul Sewage Treatment Plant, build a new outfall offshore from the Marina, continue to expand the reuse scheme.
“From the consultation it was clear that Option 2 was not popular and preferences tilted towards Option 3,” Cr Everard said.
The consultation process included:
“With that feedback in hand we can now move to the next stage of the project – developing a Recycled Water Strategy and concept design plans.
“Initial estimates put the value of the total project at $66 million, including $9 million to expand the reuse scheme.”
Council currently uses the recycled water to irrigate 500 hectares of trees. It is also used by farmers for irrigation.
“After learning about the significant increase in recycled water that’s produced in high rainfall years and the difficulty in irrigating in those years, the community panel recognised that an ocean outfall was a necessary contingency to cater for wet weather. Land-based reuse was still the most desirable option for utilising recycled water whenever possible,” he said.
“It was clear that Option 2, which canvassed not expanding the reuse scheme, was not popular.
“People wanted to maximise the use of recycled water on land and minimise release of recycled water into the ocean.”
The planning also has to cater for a significant increase in effluent, up to five times the normal amount, reaching the treatment plant when it rains.
“Feedback also acknowledged that the better design and location of the existing outfall in Option 3 would improve recycled water disbursement and lessen any environmental impacts when the outfall has to be used.”
“Option 3 is also supported by Council’s Sustainability Charter.
“Under the charter Council is committed to establishing a diverse and resilient recycled water management system that promotes the recovery and reuse of recycled water as a resource, while at the same time providing an environmentally sustainable outfall solution when volumes of recycled water exceed the regions capacity to reuse.”