West Byron Sewage Treatment Plant wetlands
West Byron Sewage Treatment Plant wetlands

International scientists to tour Byron wetlands

THE award winning West Byron Sewage Treatment Plant has drawn international attention with five wastewater scientists and engineers from India set to tour the site next week

Byron Shire Council's executive manager of water and recycling, Phil Warner, said the scientific contingent aimed to learn about safer and sustainable disposal of sewage effluent using agro forestry systems.

"The team chose to visit The Byron Bay Sewage Treatment Plant because it is considered to be among the world's most ecologically advanced sewage treatment systems, incorporating around 30 hectares of various constructed wetland systems and a Class A reclaimed water supply system.

"More than half a million trees have been planted in a constructed paperbark wetland system which was built for the purposes of wetland regeneration, effluent reuse, acid sulphate soil management and carbon sequestration.

"More than 200 bird species, including rare and endangered species, rely on the wetland and conservation areas at Byron Bay Sewage Treatment Plant as habitat."

The scientists will also be visiting the Bangalow Mop Crop farm which was created to minimise discharge of effluent into the local watercourse, and recycle effluent by irrigating a bamboo plantation.

The five scientists, from various research organisations in India, are supported by AusAID's Public Sector Linkage Program which aims to facilitate partnerships between Australian public sector organisations and their development country counterparts to enable exchange of skills, experience and knowledge in support of Australia's aid program goals.

Other project partners include The University of Melbourne, Punjab Agricultural University, and the Central Soil Salinity Research Institute.

The international scientists will be accompanied by Dr Keith Bolton and David Pont who were instrumental in the design and construction of the ByronBay wetland systems and the Bangalow Mop Crop Farm.

Peter Rees, Manager of Systems Operations Water at Byron Shire Council and Dr Richard Benyon from The University of Melbourne will also accompany the tour.

Local film maker Martin Selecki will take video footage to incorporate into a documentary about sustainable sewage management.

"There's no such thing as wastewater in ByronBay - only resource water," quipped wetland designer Dr Keith Bolton.

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