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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Unitywater hosts Healthy Waterways report card launch

Unitywater, in partnership with Healthy Waterways, is today (Wednesday 19 October) launching the 2011 Ecosystem Health Report Card at its state-of-the-art Murrumba Downs Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) in Bickle Road. 

-View live stream of this event from about 11.30am today.

Unitywater Chief Executive Officer, Jon Black, said waterway health was a key priority for the organisation, which was constantly striving to adopt innovative, environmentally-friendly and cost effective options for maintaining healthy rivers, estuaries and marine environments.

Mr Black said reducing the impacts of sewage treatment plants on the waterways in South East Queensland was a key priority when Healthy Waterways was established 10 years ago however the focus was now shifting to a more wholistic approach to catchment health. 

“STPs are only one of many impacts that contribute to the total nutrient load in our region’s waterways. Other natural and man-made impacts such as floods, erosion, agricultural runoff, industrial discharges, and discharge from stormwater drainage are now recognised as having greater impacts on waterway health than discharge from sewage treatment plants. 

“This is because the community has made considerable investment in improving sewage treatment to an advanced level, as evidenced by detailed testing and reporting to the environmental regulator.” 

He said Unitywater remained committed to taking a multi-pronged approach to improving the quality of waterways across the Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay regions. 

“Over the next three years we will be investing more than $440 million into major infrastructure projects, including upgrades to eight of our 18 sewage treatment plants, but this is only part of the picture.” 

Other initiatives include research partnerships; collaboration with owner councils on the development of Total Water Cycle Management Strategies; the implementation of Unitywater’s five-year Environmental Management Strategy; and projects such as tree planting and the re-establishment of salt couch, as seen at Murrumba Downs. 

Unitywater’s ongoing Inflow and Infiltration Program, which helps prevent sewage overflows by detecting and rectifying the sources of rainwater and groundwater entering the sewerage network, is yet another way the organisation is protecting environmental and community health. 

“Our $196 million upgrade to the Murrumba Downs Sewage Treatment Plant and Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant makes this one of the most advanced sewage treatment plants in Australia. It has helped protect the ecosystem of the Pine River, while providing for future population growth. While this is a facility we are rightly proud of, investments of this size are not necessarily the way of the future.” 

Mr Black said Unitywater was committed to investigating, trialling and adopting sustainable and cost effective technologies that could benefit the environment and the community without requiring major investments in new treatment plants or expensive new technologies. 

“True innovation is to identify and use low cost technologies to produce water which is reused sustainably, not to utilise very expensive treatment processes to make high quality water which is discharged to a natural waterway that flows to the sea. 

“Our aim is to embrace practices that deliver optimal benefits to our region, our stakeholders and the community we serve,” he said 

The public launch commences at 11.30am on Wednesday 19 October and will be followed by a tour of the Murrumba Downs Sewage Treatment Plant and Advanced Water Treatment Plant. 

More information on Healthy Waterways can be found at, and further details of Unitywater’s infrastructure upgrades can be viewed at .