Work is underway this week to upgrade SA Water’s recycled water plant in Whyalla, as part of the utility’s $200,000 investment to enhance sewage treatment and the plant’s overall performance.
More than 1,300 diffusers in both of the plant’s treatment basins – which look like large swimming pools – will be replaced, improving the efficiency of the biological process that breaks down nutrients in sewage.
SA Water’s General Manager of Operations Chris Young said the diffusers distribute a constant supply of oxygen to help microorganisms remove the nutrients, which is an important step in recycling sewage.
“As we look to tackle the changing climate, our treatment plants have transformed into rich resource recovery centres that are now capable of creating sustainable sources of recycled water,” Chris said.
“When Whyalla’s number ones and twos come into the local plant, they undergo a series of processes to treat the sewage and separate the solid organic material from water.
“The diffuser membranes we’re replacing are located along the base of the basins and push oxygen into the sewage that’s held inside the structure.
“Oxygen gives the naturally-occurring bugs in sewage the extra push they need to break down the organic material and remove all of the nutrients before the water flows to another tank for additional treatment.
“The process is a living, breathing beast and we need to keep it performing at an optimal level to maximise our recycled water supply. Replacing the diffusers every five years ensures we’re looking after our busy bugs.
"Once the water has been recycled, it’s used by the local council to help irrigate and green Whyalla’s ovals and parks, while helping keep the golf courses’ playing surface looking lush.
"While the basins are empty, we’ll also clean them and inspect other equipment that’s usually not visible, with the project expected to take around seven weeks to complete."
SA Water’s Whyalla Recycled Water Plant was built in 2008 within the existing footprint of the utility’s wastewater treatment plant, and currently supplies around 2.5 million litres of recycled water per day.
Mr Young said there won’t be any impact to local customers’ sewer services during the works and measures are already in place to manage any temporary increases in sewer odour from the plant.
“We expect this to be a low likelihood, but do however encourage the community to be our ‘sleuths’ and get in touch if they notice any change,” Chris said.