Waste water to fertilize farms

BIO-SOLIDS from Bundaberg's wastewater treatment plants will soon be enriching farming land around the city.

The Bundaberg Regional Council decided last week to let Bundaberg Sugar take the waste for use on its farms.

Tom McLaughlin, the council's water and wastewater group manager, said the bio-solids would be trucked from treatment plants in Millbank and Bundaberg East out to the company's fields.

Not only will the waste ensure better crops on Bundaberg Sugar's farms, the deal will save the council about $100,000 a year.

At present the council pays a private company $200,000 a year to take the waste away, but under the deal with Bundaberg Sugar each of them would pay their own costs.

“What we've been talking about is them using the waste to introduce nutrients back into the ground and as a soil conditioner for poor quality land,” Mr McLaughlin said.

He said the bio-solids consisted of a dry, pliable mud.

“After going through the process at the treatment plant it shouldn't smell,” Mr McLaughlin said.

He said while the filterpress Bundaberg Sugar produced as a by-product of the crushing process could be used as a soil conditioner, the bio-solids were higher in nutrients.

The waste would also be safe to use.

"It gets processed at the plants and generates heat that knocks off a lot of the pathogens,” he said.

“Before it goes into commercial use it has to be tested for the level of pathogens.

“There are fairly stringent requirements we have to meet before it is sold.”

Mr McLaughlin said while a city the size of Bundaberg produced a large amount of bio-solids, Bundaberg Sugar had indicated it could handle the volume.

“We're talking about 400 cubic metres of product a month,” he said.

“About 15% of that is solid and about 85% is water, depending on the sludge.”

The waste would be transported in specially licensed trucks that had to meet strict standards.

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