The scent of superior sewage
DOWNWIND was the ceremony in which Emerald's upgraded Black Gully Wastewater Treatment Plant was officially opened.
"I'm going to be reasonably short, and I was going to say sweet, but with the wind blowing from the direction it is, that might not be the case," Mayor Kerry Hayes joked on Friday last week.
But as the congregation of council and construction workers followed their noses further into the plant, the scent noticeably improved.
The original Black Gully plant, one of Emerald's two sewage treatment centres, was built 20 years ago. Council CEO Scott Mason said it had been operating over capacity.
"Before the upgrade, the plant was designed for a population of 4000 but had up to 7500 connections.
"The Black Gully Wastewater Treatment Plant can now service a population of 10,000."
The improvements were initially expected to cost $23 million, but came finally to $20.5 million, with part of that funding state-contributed.
Embedded in the site were 125,000 construction hours by more than 300 workers. Mr Hayes said 50,000 of those hours were spent by locals.
Assistant minister for state development Julieanne Gilbert said the project sourced work from 40 local businesses and contractors during the two-year build.
"More than 70 new jobs were created in the community during the construction phase.
"The upgrade will ensure the region is sustained by the right infrastructure well into the future."
The plant puts out recycled water for irrigation to a minimum Class C standard and now boasts a new inlet, a bioreactor that separates liquid and solid waste, and a better disinfection process.
The project was funded through the Queensland Government's Building our Regions program, in association with Central Highlands Regional Council, and was overseen by Queensland company Aquatec Maxcon.