Those working in the sewer and water industries have a better idea than most about where waste goes after you flush the toilet or where soap suds end up after swirling down the bath hole. Queensland Urban Utilities recently offered the general public a rare chance to find out in person when the Oxley Creek Sewage Treatment Plant opened for a free tour as part of the 2014 Peaks to Points Festival.
Queensland Urban Utilities spokesperson, Col Hester, said the second largest sewage treatment plant in Queensland and has only been accessible to the public a couple of times in the past decade.
“The tour is a great opportunity to witness the fascinating process of converting sewage into clear wastewater by removing solids and nutrients,” he said.
“If you live or work in the southern and western regions of Brisbane, chances are your waste ends up here at Oxley Creek Sewage Treatment Plant.”
The tour also allowed people to see how far the Oxley Creek Sewage Treatment plant has come since the 2011 flood.
“The premises suffered $32 million worth of damage in the natural disaster forcing part of the plant offline,” Mr Hester said.
“Due to industrial and residential growth in the area Queensland Urban Utilities is investing $15 million to bring those facilities back online to cater for demand.
“The plant is currently processing 53 million litres of sewage a day. Once the upgrade is complete that will increase to 65 million litres – the equivalent of 26 Olympic sized swimming pools.
“A range of flood proofing measures are being rolled out including raising electrical equipment, such as switchboards, 30cm higher than the 2011 flood peak.”
Queensland Urban Utilities is committed to environmentally sustainable practices, including the production of green power.
“At the Oxley Creek Sewage Treatment Plant the biosolids, or sludge, which are removed during the treatment process undergo a separate treatment to produce biogas,” Mr Hester said.
“This is used to fuel a cogeneration facility which provides part of the electricity needs of the plant.
“We’re aiming to produce one megawatt per day by the end of September, decreasing our reliance on the electricity grid by more than a third.”
Think at the Sink
The tour of Oxley Creek Sewage Treatment Plant is also aimed at creating a greater understanding of how our personal behaviour can have a very public impact.
“Flushing the wrong things down the sink or toilet can cause blockages in the sewerage network,” Mr Hester said.
“In the kitchen, don’t put tea leaves, coffee grinds, fat and food scraps down the sink as it can lead to costly repairs and harm the environment.
“Also avoid flushing items such as cotton balls, cotton buds, hair, bandages, face wipes and nappies down the toilet as they don’t break down easily and cause obstructions.”