Student research helps wastewater management

The research of a La Trobe Albury-Wodonga honours student could make Beechworth’s wastewater treatment plant a model for small cool-climate sewage facilities.

Glenn Jeffrey is studying honours in environment management and ecology at the Albury-Wodonga campus and working part-time at North East Water.

In an arrangement between the University, North East Water and the Murray Darling Freshwater Research Centre, Glenn is evaluating options for upgrading the plant.

"The Beechworth treatment plant, like lagoon treatment processes used in small towns around the world, has difficulty removing nitrogen from the wastewater in winter," he said.

"When the weather turns cold the water temperatures can get so low that the bacteria slow down and virtually stop using the nitrogen and other food sources in the water."

Mr Jeffrey said the nitrogen in the wastewater came mostly from human urine and faeces, which, if not reduced to low enough levels, can impact aquatic life in the stream receiving the treated effluent.

North East Water Operations Manager, Fiona Smith, said Glenn's research could be applied to any treatment plant of similar size and in a similar climate.

"From what Glenn has achieved so far, we are anticipating a cost-effective solution that can be applied elsewhere," she said.

"We are in the process of upgrading some of our smaller treatment plants in accordance with EPA requirements, and this presented the perfect opportunity to have one or more students from La Trobe University involved in that process."

For further information regarding North East Water, please contact:

Matt Lane, Media & Public Relations Officer on (02) 6022 0562

To arrange an interview or for further information, please contact:

Reinhard Beissbarth
La Trobe University Albury-Wodonga
Phone: 02 6024 9874