What is Wastewater - Gold Coast -

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					                Griffith Centre for Coastal Management Information Sheet

                                What is Wastewater?
                                  - Gold Coast -

                                        December 2007

What is Wastewater?
Wastewater or sewage is any water that                  Approximately 130 million litres of
has been affected in quality by a human                 wastewater is treated each day by the
influence. It includes liquid waste                     wastewater        treatment  plants,  and
discharged from our homes, commercial                   approximately 15% is recycled for use in
properties, industry and agriculture. The               irrigation of golf courses, parks and
average person produces approximately                   nurseries (GCCC 2007). Other waste
250 litres of wastewater every day (GCCC                material collected at the treatment plants
2007).                                                  such as grit, which cannot be recycled, is
                                                        sent to landfill.
Water on the Gold Coast comes from the
hinterland area at Springbrook. It travels              Gold Coast treatment plants are designed
via rivers, streams and underground                     to treat a maximum of 133 million litres of
seepage to our dams, including Hinze Dam                wastewater per day – that is an average of
and Little Nerang Dam, before being                     250 litres of wastewater per person daily
transported through a series of pipes and               (GCCC 2007).
pumping stations.

Once water is used, its treated and either
reused or carried back into the rivers and
ocean where the process starts again.

Where does it go?

                                                        Image: Wastewater           treatment     plant
                                                        (GCCM 2006)

                                                        Treatment levels
                                                        The level of treatment ranges from
                                                        primary to tertiary.
                                                        Primary: is the initial stage of sewage
Image: Know where it all goes (NSW EPA                  treatment and involves removing solid
2004)                                                   particles. Sewage is filtered through fine
                                                        screens to take out solid matter such as
Wastewater Treatment Plants                             paper and plastic. It then flows into
Gold Coast Water is responsible for the                 primary sedimentation tanks where human
collection, treatment and disposal of                   waste, or sludge, settles to the bottom
wastewater. Gold Coast City has four                    and the oils and grease float to the top
wastewater treatment plants located at                  where it is collected.
Elanora, Merrimac, Coombabah and
Beenleigh. Wastewater is treated to a high              Secondary: treatment removes dissolved
standard and released to either the Gold                and suspended organic and inorganic
Coast Seaway or the Albert River, or                    solids, through bacterial decomposition,
recycled.                                               which breaks down the material. The
               Griffith Centre for Coastal Management Information Sheet

effluent flows into tanks where bacteria
grows and naturally treats the wastewater.
The liquid flows into sedimentation tanks
where more particles then settle to the
bottom for collection.

Tertiary: treatment further removes
inorganic compounds and substances,
such as plant nutrients nitrogen (N) and
phosphorus (P). Chlorine is added to kill
off the bacteria.

What is Recycled Water?
Recycled water is treated wastewater not       Image: Recycled water for outdoor use
released into the ocean but instead used       (Gold Coast Water 2007)
for non-drinking purposes such as
agriculture, golf courses, parks and           Water Quality
gardens, and on development sites.             Gold Coast water is tested regularly for
                                               microbiological, physical and chemical
Gold Coast Water’s objective is to manage      quality as it leaves the treatment plant.
water resources by:                            Water generally contains:
    1. Reduce (consumption)                        • Chlorine – to remove water-borne
    2. Use/Recycle         (water/recycled             disease
        water)                                     • Lime – maintain pH
    3. Release (wastewater)                        • Aluminium – as a result of natural
                                                       leeching from soil and rocks in the
Council has recently started construction              dam catchment area
on a new wastewater treatment plant and            • Other metals are found in the
recycled water treatment plant in                      water supply in trace level
Pimpama that will produce Class A+                     concentrations.
recycled water. This is the highest class of
defined recycled water in Queensland. The      What about Stormwater?
Pimpama Coomera Master Plan looks at           Any water that runs off into drains is
delivering Class A+ recycled water directly    stormwater. This includes nutrients from
to homes via a colour coded dual               runoff, sediments from construction,
reticulation system for toilet flushing and    detergents, oils and chemicals.
outdoor use.
                                               For further information on stormwater
                                               please refer to the ‘What is Stormwater?’
                                               information sheet.

                                               Further information
                                               For further information please contact
                                               Griffith Centre for Coastal Management on
                                               (07)      5552       8506     or    email

ge: Sprinkler using recycled water (GCCM
Griffith Centre for Coastal Management Information Sheet

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