Gunnedah Sewerage Treatment Plant is undergoing a major remodel worth $8.1 million to boost efficiency and increase capacity for growth.
Due for completion in December, the project is funded by the NSW Government’s Restart NSW Resources for Regions, and Gunnedah Shire Council.
Council’s director of infrastructure, Wayne Kerr, said the project has been in planning for eight years, with the contract awarded to Gongues Constructions in late February.
The upgrade will see much of the infrastructure grouped together at the bottom end of the site, parallel to the Kamilaroi Highway.
Among the infrastructure to be replaced are the inlet works, inlet pumping station, amenities building, the telemetry system and the sludge feed averaging tank. Additional infrastructure will include a septic receival unit, a dewatering building, and a dedicated switchboard room.
“Essentially, what we’re doing is the front end, that could be utilised if required for further upgrade beyond 2038,” Mr Kerr said.
The major changes will increase the efficiency of the plant, improve workplace health and safety, and increase the capacity for future growth. The plant will service 12,500 people.
Council opted for the multi-million dollar upgrade over a complete rebuild, which would have cost $35 million.
“The question was, do we rebuild a whole new works or look at whether there was still new life and capacity in the works, and develop plans for the future?” Mr Kerr said.
Council’s acting water services manager, Michael Ludlow, said although parts of the original infrastructure were almost at the end of their life, many components could still be utilised.
Council is also replacing its telemetry system, swapping out the old Rad-tel analogue system for a new digital ClearSCADA system.
Mr Ludlow said technical support was no longer available for the analogue system and issues had begun to emerge.
The new system will provide the council with a ream data, which will enable staff to put cost-saving measures in place such as pumping water at off-peak times for both the water and waste water systems of Gunnedah.
“Energy is a significant cost to council,” Mr Ludlow said.
“We have spoken to other councils that have done this with the SCADA system and they have given us great feedback on cost-saving measures.”
The new telemetry system will also be integrated into the upgrade of the Sewerage Treatment Plant enabling the plant to operate unmanned for longer periods than is currently possible.
“With the sewer plant upgrade, the plant can be run and monitored from the telemetry network,” Mr Kerr said.
“We’re fortunate to be able to coordinate these upgrades and standardise everything, and use the same integrator for both the water and waste water systems.”
The telemetry system is costing the council $630,000 and should be up and running in around three weeks.
Mr Ludlow said all of the upgrades at the plant were an investment in the shire’s future.
“The treatment works – what we’re planning with the upgrade – it will get us through to 2038, and that will allow for future residential and future industrial growth,” he said.
“At the end of the day, the community own it – we just manage it and run it.”