‘Grey’ water treated nature’s way


Water polluted in kitchens and bathrooms at Charles Sturt University (CSU) in Albury-Wodonga has been cleaned up using nature and gravity, with some help from an award-winning scientist and the wetlands he designed.Professor David Mitchell (centre in picture), formerly with the CSU Institute for Land, Water and Society (ILWS) and CSIRO, designed a set of treatment ponds and wetlands to treat ‘grey’ water produced in academic and residential buildings on the University’s Thurgoona site.Having previously won state, national and international awards for the water management and treatment system on the site, Professor Mitchell’s design has performed well for over 20 years.ILWS director Professor Max Finlayson (left in picture) said, “Wetlands have been constructed across the world for more than 50 years to treat polluted water. The David Mitchell wetland system on our campus is a working demonstration of sustainable practice.“The wetlands were constructed as part of the development of a new campus. It provided a marvellous opportunity to design an environmentally efficient, on-site water management system from scratch,” Professor Finlayson said.“The number of thermo-tolerant coliform bacteria detected in treated grey water indicates the level of faecal contamination and whether this water can be re-used.“To date, the treated water has passed every test, providing evidence that individual units of this nature are effective – they can treat grey water and meet initial expectations and specifications.”Professor Finlayson believes this is but one example of Professor Mitchell’s immense contributions to the management of Australia’s aquatic ecosystems.“His leadership has been widely recognised and his willingness to spend time advising and supporting others is an example to all. His contributions to the use of wetland plants to treat wastewater are just a part of his tremendous legacy,” Professor Finlayson said.

Media Note:

For interviews with Professor Max Finlayson, who is based at CSU in Albury-Wodonga, contact CSU Media.

Note that Friday 2 February is World Wetland Day.

For details on the David Mitchell wetlands, see these papers:

Mitchell, D.S., Chick, A.J., and Raisin, G.W., 1995. The use of wetlands for water pollution control in Australia: An ecological perspective. Water Science and Technology, 32: 365-375.

Mitchell, D.S., Croft, I., Harrison, T., and Webster-Mannison, M. 2001. Water management on the Thurgoona campus of Charles Sturt University. In: R.A. Patterson and M.J. Jones, Proceedings of On-site ’01 Conference: Advancing On-site Wastewater Systems. pp. 287-294.

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