Sustainable benefits of wastewater

Consultation has concluded

We are exploring new and innovative ways of managing our wastewater.

With a growing population, it's important we manage our water and wastewater resources, and re-use them where possible.

We currently use the biosolids we generate at our wastewater treatment plants to fertilise farmland and rehabilitate mine sites. But we know we can do more.

Recycled water can be used in irrigate parks and sporting grounds, and biogas can be used to generate electricity.

We are exploring ways we can reduce our carbon emissions, make better use of our wastewater resources and support healthy waterways.

Learn more about the benefits of sustainable water management in our Document Library.

We are exploring new and innovative ways of managing our wastewater.

With a growing population, it's important we manage our water and wastewater resources, and re-use them where possible.

We currently use the biosolids we generate at our wastewater treatment plants to fertilise farmland and rehabilitate mine sites. But we know we can do more.

Recycled water can be used in irrigate parks and sporting grounds, and biogas can be used to generate electricity.

We are exploring ways we can reduce our carbon emissions, make better use of our wastewater resources and support healthy waterways.

Learn more about the benefits of sustainable water management in our Document Library.

Consultation has concluded
  • Using our water storages as floating solar energy factories

    about 1 year ago
    Floating solar

    Hunter Water is considering the possibility of using floating solar farms on some of its water storage sites as part of its research into how we can meet our future energy needs and reduce our carbon footprint.

    This project, led by the organisation’s Sustainable Wastewater program, is part of the development of a carbon and energy strategy to put Hunter Water on the right path towards our aspirational goal of becoming carbon neutral. Hunter Water has current total emissions of 92,967 tonnes of CO2-e per year – the equivalent of 20,210 passenger vehicles driven for a year.

    Floating solar farms...


    Hunter Water is considering the possibility of using floating solar farms on some of its water storage sites as part of its research into how we can meet our future energy needs and reduce our carbon footprint.

    This project, led by the organisation’s Sustainable Wastewater program, is part of the development of a carbon and energy strategy to put Hunter Water on the right path towards our aspirational goal of becoming carbon neutral. Hunter Water has current total emissions of 92,967 tonnes of CO2-e per year – the equivalent of 20,210 passenger vehicles driven for a year.

    Floating solar farms not only produce renewable energy, they can also reduce water losses from evaporation, and keep our land holdings free for other uses. On a hot day, we lose just as much water through evaporation from our storages as is consumed by the whole Lower Hunter, which can be up to 160 million litres per day.

    But floating solar comes with its own challenges. Not only does it have to be economically viable – technical issues such as anchoring need to be considered. It also has to be environmentally friendly and ensure the water quality within our water storages is protected.

    The initial phase of the research considers a range of installations from 1 megawatt (MW) up to 100 MW at our wastewater treatment ponds, and possibly on Grahamstown Dam.

    David Derkenne, Hunter Water’s Program Director for Sustainable Wastewater, is very excited about the research: “This project has the potential to provide a number of significant benefits to Hunter Water’s customers and the environment. Not only does floating solar provide a renewable source of energy and help us on our way to becoming carbon neutral, it could also help reduce water losses from our drinking water system.”

    Results of this research and the viability of using floating solar panels will be known by the end of the year.

    Photo: Australia’s largest floating solar installation on East Lismore’s sewage treatment plant, in NSW.

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  • Hunter Water highlights research on National Science Week

    about 1 year ago
    National science week 01 1x1

    National Science Week (11-19 August 2018) is Australia’s annual celebration of science and technology, and Hunter Water is glad to encourage an interest in science pursuits by doing research that will benefit the whole Lower Hunter area.

    Hunter Water’s research and development program is collaborating with primary research partner University of Newcastle (UoN), as well as with other Australian and international Universities and research organisations and water utilities.

    Some projects Hunter Water is collaborating on with UoN include investigations about fish in Grahamstown Dam; harmful algal blooms and implications for water quality; climate change impacts on water quality; atmospheric water...


    National Science Week (11-19 August 2018) is Australia’s annual celebration of science and technology, and Hunter Water is glad to encourage an interest in science pursuits by doing research that will benefit the whole Lower Hunter area.

    Hunter Water’s research and development program is collaborating with primary research partner University of Newcastle (UoN), as well as with other Australian and international Universities and research organisations and water utilities.

    Some projects Hunter Water is collaborating on with UoN include investigations about fish in Grahamstown Dam; harmful algal blooms and implications for water quality; climate change impacts on water quality; atmospheric water generators and their potential use as water supply for the Lower Hunter; and how to manage the weed that clogs pumps at pump stations.

    Additional research includes the assessment of a native freshwater mollusc for use as an indicator of contamination of freshwater in creeks and rivers; monitoring microplastics going through our wastewater treatment works; and the use of biochar (charcoal) to remedy PFAS contamination.

    At a national level, Hunter Water is involved in several research projects with Water Research Australia (WaterRA) and the Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) to find more efficient and effective water quality monitoring and water recovery methods, and improved catchment and source water management.

    On an international stage, Hunter Water’s Abigail Morrow is representing the WSAA on Global Water Research Coalition project, looking into establishing priorities for dealing with emerging contaminants. This project, led by UNSW’s Stuart Khan, includes members from many different countries around the world.

    Hunter Water’s Manager of Science and innovation, Anna Lundmark, is excited about the new possibilities that the organisation’s Research and Development (R&D) could bring through scientific research: “Having a targeted R&D strategy is about identifying knowledge gaps that are critical to the organisation. A successful R&D program results in us having the right knowledge to make good decisions, to take advantages of new opportunities and address emerging challenges.”

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  • National Tree Day

    about 1 year ago
    Article   national tree day 2018

    Hunter Water supports National Tree Day (29 July 2018), Australia's largest annual tree-planting event, by engaging in bush recovery and tree planting initiatives that strengthen the lower Hunter’s biodiversity, reduce our carbon footprint, and assist to safeguard the quality of the region’s drinking water.

    Since 1996, National Tree Day has prompted more than four million people to plant more than 24 million trees and plants. These numbers just keep growing, and Hunter Water is doing its bit.

    One of Hunter Water’s initiatives is the ‘Tree Planting for Carbon Offsets program’ to offset more than 80% of the 68,000 tonnes of...


    Hunter Water supports National Tree Day (29 July 2018), Australia's largest annual tree-planting event, by engaging in bush recovery and tree planting initiatives that strengthen the lower Hunter’s biodiversity, reduce our carbon footprint, and assist to safeguard the quality of the region’s drinking water.

    Since 1996, National Tree Day has prompted more than four million people to plant more than 24 million trees and plants. These numbers just keep growing, and Hunter Water is doing its bit.

    One of Hunter Water’s initiatives is the ‘Tree Planting for Carbon Offsets program’ to offset more than 80% of the 68,000 tonnes of carbon emissions from the Lower Hunter Recycled Water Initiative over a 20-year period. The program has planted 300,000 trees and shrubs across 160 hectares of land around Grahamstown Dam, Chichester Dam and Irrawang Swamp.

    A newer initiative is the Tillegra Riparian Improvement Project, which is establishing a riparian buffer zone on either side of the Williams River using native trees and fencing to prevent erosion and filter runoff, and stop cattle from entering the river. Approximately 60,000 trees will be planted to supplement existing vegetation in 150 hectares of land running along either side of a 24km section of the Williams River. Half of the trees have already been planted. This will help to protect the quality of the water in the Williams River before it is pumped to Grahamstown Dam, Hunter Water's major drinking water storage facility.

    David Derkenne, Director of Hunter Water’s Sustainable Wastewater Program, is excited with Hunter Water’s contribution to the environment on this special day: “National Tree Day works as a great reminder of the care that we all as a community must have for our environment, and how this benefits all of us. By planting trees, Hunter Water is able to move closer towards our aspirational goal of becoming carbon neutral by reducing our carbon footprint, and improve the quality of the water in our waterways – which will improve the quality of our drinking water.”

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  • No waste left behind with circular economy

    over 1 year ago
    20180518 143458


    Hunter Water is exploring circular economy opportunities and ways to consider recycled water, energy generation and nutrient recovery as a business-as-usual approach.

    A circular economy is an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life.

    A recent workshop, which included representatives from our partner Lake Macquarie City Council and research leaders from the UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures, focused on a presentation of business...


    Hunter Water is exploring circular economy opportunities and ways to consider recycled water, energy generation and nutrient recovery as a business-as-usual approach.

    A circular economy is an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life.

    A recent workshop, which included representatives from our partner Lake Macquarie City Council and research leaders from the UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures, focused on a presentation of business as usual material pathways for water, energy and waste systems as well as exploring potential circular economy opportunities. Some of the more innovative opportunities identified included:

    · Micro-grids for water and energy that let households trade resources locally

    · Generating our own energy from floating solar on Grahamstown Dam

    · Generating renewable energy from our biosolids (a by-product of the wastewater treatment process)

    · Recovering nutrients such as phosphorus from our wastewater treatment plants

    · Atmospheric water generators that produce drinking water at a households scale

    Further workshops will develop circular economy future scenarios and how these will affect high-level material flows in water and wastewater services, energy inputs and outputs, food waste systems, and the potential to optimise our system’s resource efficiency.

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  • Beating plastic on World Environment Day

    over 1 year ago
    Chichester


    Hunter Water is strengthening our commitment to reduce plastic pollution, in line with the celebration of the UN’s World Environment Day, on June 5th.

    According to the UN, there is an urgent need to reduce plastic pollution. Worldwide, up to 5 trillion plastic bags are used each year, contributing to 13 million tonnes of plastic leaking into the ocean and the death of 100,000 marine animals every year.

    The wastewater system in the greater Newcastle area is affected, too. Plastic can clog the wastewater network and form clusters that contribute to the formation...


    Hunter Water is strengthening our commitment to reduce plastic pollution, in line with the celebration of the UN’s World Environment Day, on June 5th.

    According to the UN, there is an urgent need to reduce plastic pollution. Worldwide, up to 5 trillion plastic bags are used each year, contributing to 13 million tonnes of plastic leaking into the ocean and the death of 100,000 marine animals every year.

    The wastewater system in the greater Newcastle area is affected, too. Plastic can clog the wastewater network and form clusters that contribute to the formation of ‘fatbergs’, obstructing pipes and causing wastewater overflows.

    Microplastics and microfibres are present in daily-use personal care and cosmetic products – including shampoos and facial scrubs – and shed from synthetic materials like polyester in clothing. They are rinsed directly down household drains and end up at wastewater treatment plants. Hunter Water has contributed $45,000 towards a wastewater study being jointly funded by the University of Newcastle and led by Dr Thava Palanisami, that will help develop ways to manage and treat microplastics in wastewater before they reach waterways, such as rivers and the ocean.

    Hunter Water is also participating in the Newcastle-born Plastic Police®, a closed-loop recycling program for soft plastics being piloted in the Hunter. The idea is to reduce the amount of soft plastic waste entering the oceans and landfill by collecting and melting down plastic bags and wrappers to make new products that can be bought back by Hunter Water. So far this year Hunter Water has recycled more than 300 kg of soft plastics, enough to make several sets of picnic tables and chairs.

    Hunter Water’s Program Director for Sustainable Wastewater, David Derkenne, highlighted the importance of these environmental initiatives: “Keeping plastics and microplastics out of our wastewater addresses this emerging environmental contamination issue and protects the environment. It also brings benefits by maximising opportunities to recycle effluent and produce biosolids destined for reuse in an environmentally friendly way as fertiliser in agriculture and forestry”.

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  • Options on energy-from-waste studied at Hunter Water

    over 1 year ago
    P6050181 %28cropped%29


    Hunter Water has partnered with global consultancy AECOM and the Institute for Sustainable Futures (a research arm of the University of Technology Sydney) to undertake a comprehensive study that will help determine the feasibility of generating renewable energy from Hunter Water’s biosolids.

    Hunter Water’s 19 wastewater treatment works produce almost 8,000 dry tonnes of biosolids each year as a by-product of the sewage treatment process. These biosolids are currently used for pasture improvement, land rehabilitation, and other purposes in the farming and mining sectors. With the waste-to-energy field rapidly growing in Australia, biosolids represent a potentially valuable source...


    Hunter Water has partnered with global consultancy AECOM and the Institute for Sustainable Futures (a research arm of the University of Technology Sydney) to undertake a comprehensive study that will help determine the feasibility of generating renewable energy from Hunter Water’s biosolids.

    Hunter Water’s 19 wastewater treatment works produce almost 8,000 dry tonnes of biosolids each year as a by-product of the sewage treatment process. These biosolids are currently used for pasture improvement, land rehabilitation, and other purposes in the farming and mining sectors. With the waste-to-energy field rapidly growing in Australia, biosolids represent a potentially valuable source of renewable energy.

    By generating energy from biosolids, Hunter Water would be on the right path to reduce its carbon footprint considerably. Currently, Hunter Water’s total carbon emissions are 90,000 tonnes of CO2-e per year, equivalent to the emissions from about 20,000 cars on the road. Initial estimates suggest that an effective use of biosolids for energy generation could reduce Hunter Water’s emissions from energy consumption off the grid – known as Scope 2 emissions – by approximately 10 per cent.

    The study will also explore new commercial opportunities around renewable energy from other organic waste streams, such as food waste.

    Hunter Water’s Sustainable Wastewater Program Director, David Derkenne, was enthusiastic about the study’s development: “This comprehensive study will provide guidance to our Biosolids and Renewable Energy Strategy, but also give insights on options to reduce our carbon footprint by generating our own energy. This would bring benefits not only to Hunter Water, but also to our environment, as we’ll be better positioned to reduce our emissions from energy that we take from the grid for our operations.”

    Hunter Water will use the findings of this study to inform the Biosolids and Renewable Energy Strategy, its next price path submission, and the development of its Long Term Plan. The results of the study are expected to be available later this year

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