BETTER: HNC’s new recycled water plant makes a cleaner product than rain. Picture: Peter StoopHUNTER Water will open a $73 million recycled water plant at Mayfield on Monday capable of producing 3.3 billion litres of water that is cleaner than rainwater.
The plant will supply Orica’s Kooragang Island plant, reducing its use of drinking water by the equivalent of more than 12,000 homes annually. Built over four years, the Kooragang Recycled Water Scheme is the largest recycled water project undertaken in the region.
Water will be delivered from the Steel River industrial estate to Orica’s Kooragang site via an 8-kilometre pipeline that runs under the Hunter River.
“Water Wise Rules save the Hunter about 1 billion litres of drinking water a year. The Kooragang Recycled Water Scheme can triple those savings,” Water minister Kevin Humphries said. “Until now, Orica has been the Hunter’s largest water customer, using 5 per cent of all water consumed in the Hunter at its Kooragang site, enough to fill about 1300 Olympic swimming pools. “
Orica’s use of recycled water from the plant will result in it losing its position as Hunter’s top customer to the 19th largest customer.
“Orica believes that responsible corporate practices such as this will not only enhance the company’s performance but also benefit our customers and our community,” Orica Kooragang Island general manager Greg Holmes said.
“Using recycled water will significantly reduce the site’s environmental footprint and contribute to its sustainability.”
Hunter Water chief operating officer Darren Cleary said water produced at the plant was cleaner than rainwater because it lacks dissolved minerals.
“The process of supplying water to Orica commences when raw sewage is treated at the Shortland Wastewater Treatment Plant. It’s then piped to the Steel River site where it is passed through microfiltration and reverse osmosis to ensure suspended solids, bacteria, viruses and dissolved salts are removed,” he said.
The Australian government supported the project with a $4.2 million grant from the Water for the Future Initiative.