Plenary Environment's biosolids drying project at Black Rock has won the Environmental Protection category at the 2014 Premier’s Sustainability Awards.
The facility, which is operated by Plenary Environment and Water Infrastructure Group as a public-private partnership, is located adjacent to Barwon Water’s Black Rock water reclamation plant and converts biosolids – a by-product of the sewage treatment process – into nutrient-rich farm fertiliser.
Plenary Group Chief Operating Officer, Glenn Hay, said that at the heart of the facility’s sustainable design is the innovative and Australian-first Keppel Seghers thermal drying technology introduced by Plenary Environment.
“This is the only facility of its kind in Australia to achieve 90 per cent de-watering and T1 Treatment Grade pelletised biosolids,” Mr Hay said. “It produces very dry, dust free pellets suitable for farm fertiliser that can be safely handled, easily transported and reused immediately after processing.”
Barwon Water Managing Director Joe Adamski said the corporation was delighted the project had been recognised.
“The biosolids drying facility provides an environmentally sustainable, long-term solution for biosolids produced at Black Rock and Barwon Water’s smaller water reclamation plants,” Mr Adamski said.
“It closes the loop in the sewage treatment process and will help Barwon Water meet its commitment to a ‘no waste’ sewerage system where 100 per cent of recycled water and biosolids are committed to sustainable use.
“Sewage can no longer be seen as waste; in the not-to-distant past, it was disposed of through various means, but today it is transformed into highly valuable products – recycled water and biosolids – that can be re-used for beneficial purposes,” he said.
The Black Rock water reclamation plant is the Geelong region’s largest sewage treatment and water recycling facility and produces almost 140 tonnes of biosolids every day. Before the drying facility, biosolids were transported in closed trucks to large drying bays in Werribee to dry in the sun and wind before being transported for use as fertiliser.
“Since beginning operation, the plant has resulted in 30 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and cut heavy truck movements by 1,000 a year,” Mr Adamski said.
Construction and commissioning of the $76 million fully enclosed drying facility was completed in September, 2012. It is the first of its kind in Australia and the largest of its type in the southern hemisphere.
The plant can treat 60,000 tonnes of biosolids a year from the Black Rock water reclamation plant and several other smaller regional plants operated by Barwon Water.