Wastewater pretreatment in the Australian Capital Territory

By Mark Maggiore

Sales Manager

18 August 2020

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is Australia's smallest mainland federal territory. As an enclave territory of New South Wales, ACT covers just 2,358 km². But this small area is home to nearly 500,000 people, their businesses, and most of the administrative divisions of the Australian federal government.

The territory is also rich in natural beauty, including mountainous regions and dense old growth forests. ACT is bound by three main water sources — the watersheds of Naas Creek, Cotter River, and Mologlo River. These precious water sources support the entire territory, as well as feeding diverse biospheres including Namadgi National Park and Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.

The protection of these precious natural resources is important to both the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly — the local governing authority — and the Commonwealth of Australia.

Particular emphasis is placed on protecting the water sources listed above, which much remain free from contaminants produced by businesses and industry. Penalties for ignoring wastewater treatment guidelines in ACT carry heavy fines.

If you're a business owner in ACT, Cleanawater offers wastewater pretreatment solutions to address the strict requirements of local laws.

Trade waste definitions and sources

Icon Water is an unlisted public company owned by the ACT Government that oversees the management of the territory's wastewater and sewerage services.

To enter local sewage systems, wastewater (or liquid trade waste) in the ACT must meet two requirements:

  1. The waste must be liquid in nature.
  2. The waste must not be classified as domestic sewage.

Domestic sewage is defined as the "waste typically produced in the course of daily residential living".

Businesses that produce liquid trade waste include:

  • Industrial and Manufacturing processes including those that manufacture paint, glass, and fabrication
  • Trade services including carpet cleaning, plumbing, and construction
  • Commercial businesses including breweries, hair salons, florists and car washing businesses
  • Businesses involving animals, including racetracks, veterinarians, and stables
  • Local community services including schools, churches, nursing homes, and fire stations
  • Nightsoil including chemical waste, septic waste, and discharge from boats, caravans, and mobile homes

ACT businesses wanting to discharge water into local systems will need to submit an Application form with Icon Water to do so.

Waste water acceptance criteria in ACT

In order to successfully apply to release trade waste water into local sewage sources, businesses must adhere to strict acceptance guidelines from Icon Water. You can find these criteria listed below in short form. For the full guidelines, please visit Icon Water's resource.

These guidelines perform a range of functions, including:

  • Outlining the characteristics of waste to be discharged
  • Limiting the volume of waste discharged at peak and off-peak times
  • Describing the waste treatment process required by businesses, and outlining how water can be stored

Icon Water outlines a range of accepted and excluded contaminants in regards to waste water treatment.

Accepted substances

  • Flow rate based on the capacity of the sewer
  • Suspended solids at 300mg per litre
  • Totally dissolved solids at 1000mg per litre
  • Temperate water below 38 degrees Celsius 
  • pH levels between 6.5 to 10.0
  • Oil and grease at 100ml per litre
  • Detergents at 50mg per litre
  • Colour as long as it has not visible when diluted
  • Radioactive material with a permit under the ACT Radiation Act

Excluded substances

  • Animal matter and other gross solids that would not pass through a 13mm space
  • Flammable or explosive substances, or that have a flash point below 61 degrees Celsius
  • Fungicides, pesticides, herbicides or similar substances
  • Any material likely to endanger public health or of workers in the water sector
  • Medical and infectious waste from hospitals and day surgeries
  • Natural or synthetic resins, plastic monomers, and synthetic adhesives
  • Any substances that is likely to interfere with the sewage system including fibrous material, or substances that can produce noxious fumes

It's also important to note that Icon Water will not accept roof, rain, surface, flood, seepage or subsoil water. This places too much strain on the local sewage system.

Pretreating water in ACT

Before submitting an application with Icon Water, ACT businesses should be looking at wastewater treatment solutions to guarantee their use of local sewage systems.

Thankfully, Cleanawater is here to help. We work with businesses owners to help them navigate regulations and remain compliant. Here are some liquid waste treatment options to assist your business in ACT.

Chemical control systems

ACT and Icon Water place a high priority on ensuring that liquid waste entering sewage systems is relatively free from chemical contaminants. Chemical control systems are highly customisable solutions that can accurately measure and control a range of chemicals in the pre-treatment phase.

Chemical control systems can:

  • Balance pH to acceptable levels before discharge into local systems
  • Utilise ultraviolet light to disinfect water before it enters sewerage
  • Come pre-plumbed and pre-wired, saving on installation time and costs

If you're looking to eliminate chemical contaminants in your outgoing water supply, then a chemical control system from Cleanawater is your best option.

Rainwater recycling and harvesting

ACT gets, on average, about 108 days of rain each year, which in turn feeds local water sources. Rain is a precious commodity, but also one of the excluded substances that cannot enter local sewage systems with the rest of a businesses' liquid waste.

ACT businesses can benefit immensely from harvesting their own rainwater, allowing them to become less reliant on mains water and more sustainable. Cleanawater's rainwater harvesting solutions recycle between 80% and 90% of rainwater at a facility. This tailored solution will save your business money, and ensure that you remain compliant.

Cleanawater has the wastewater pretreatment solution for your business, no matter what you do. Get in touch with our expert team to keep compliant.

Mark Maggiore

Sales Manager

ACT has many waterways and natural highlights to be protected. Here's how your business can remain compliant with local and federal wastewater regulations.

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