CONSTRUCTION of the new $45 million wastewater treatment plant at West Ballina is well under way, with work expected to be finished in about six months.
Ballina Shire Council awarded the contract for the design and construction of the state-of-the-art facility to Haslin.
The council's manager of water, sewer and waste, Rod Dawson, said the old wastewater treatment facility was "almost at its use-by date" and that the new one would deliver dual reticulation to new developments in the shire.
"The old facility currently caters for 16,000 people, but the new one will have the capacity for 30,000," he said.
"This is really important for the future growth of Ballina and Lennox Head.
"One of the biggest challenges that we have encountered has been ensuring that we keep the old plant running while we're building the new one.
"After that, it will be demolished."
As part of the council's recycled water masterplan, dual reticulation systems are put in place in all new developments.
This will reduce the demand on fresh water resources by giving residents the ability to use two different types of water.
Recycled water is treated wastewater that can be used for watering gardens, flushing toilets and washing the car.
Mr Dawson said it would be of an extremely high quality given the rigorous treatment processes under strict regulations. Drinking water will still be sourced from creeks that feed dams.
The West Ballina wastewater treatment plant will be a membrane bioreactor plant, Mr Dawson said.
The wastewater goes through an inlet works, then a fine membrane screen. The water is treated in a number of different ways, including being exposed to high levels of oxygen, being starved of oxygen, UV treatment and chlorination.
"The new facility is going to last until at least 2050," Mr Dawson said.
"It will be all automated, so only two people will be needed to work on site once the facility is finished."
Work has also started on the upgrades to the Lennox Head wastewater treatment plant.
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