Sustainability Record for SA Water Treatment Plant

South Australia’s newest wastewater treatment plant has claimed the record for most sustainable water or wastewater project in Australia, since becoming fully operational in June.


The Murray Bridge wastewater treatment plant is located east of Adelaide and has the capacity to process 4.5 million litres of sewerage per day. All treated water from the plant is provided to local stakeholders for reuse.


The project has been awarded a record design rating of 72 from the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA), narrowly beating the previous record holder – Sydney Water’s Lower South Creek Treatment Program – which scored 69.

Murray Bridge Wastewater Treatment Plant. Source: SA Water


The $52 million project, which began construction in 2018, includes three new pump stations, 18 kilometres of additional underground pipe, 420 ground-mounted solar panels and a state-of-the-art odour control system.


The odour control system consists of a biotrickling filter (BTF) and tanks of activated carbon that combine to eliminate 99.95% of odours from the wastewater treatment plant.


The plant also uses a new wastewater treatment technology called a ‘Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor’ (MBBR), which uses plastic carriers to promote a more compact, efficient and robust digestion of the wastewater sludge.


MBBR converts the sludge from the wastewater treatment plant into an extremely fertile biosolid used to improve agricultural soils and crops.


Murray Bridge is one of the first non-industrial wastewater treatment plants in Australia to use the MBBR technology, according to SA Water’s Senior Manager of Community and Stakeholder Engagement, Matthew Bonnett.

Inside a Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor (MBBR), showing purple plastic carriers. Source: Wikimedia Commons


The project’s impressive sustainability rating is due to many features: a solar array that generates 150 kilowatt hours per day; the planting of over 40 different native plant species; and an art installation that recognises the region’s traditional owners, the Ngarrindjeri people.


The Murray Bridge wastewater treatment plant is an excellent example of modern, efficient and sustainable water treatment; raising the bar for future water treatment projects in Australia.

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