50 Years in business

50 Years - 50 Stories: Marian Water Treatment Plant - The second best-tasting water in the World!

You can be certain that you’ve done a great job when your water sample is voted the second best tasting water - in the world!

In 2014, Mackay Regional Council engaged Aquatec Maxcon Pty Ltd to design & construct a new WTP for the townships of Marian and Mirani. A study demonstrated that the town’s borewater source would not meet future demands. Additionally, the water was very hard and had a tendency to damage tapware, generating complaints from locals.

The solution came in the form of a lamella package plant with a small footprint & minimal construction period. The results were exceptional water quality (NTU<.01) and the best tasting water in Queensland, according to a taste test organised by Water Industry Operators Association of Australia in October 2019 at Dunkeld, Victoria.

Further proof of excellence - In February 2020, Marian’s water sample came in 2nd place during a global water tasting competition. The decision, announced at the annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting (The ‘Academy Awards’ of water) was a very proud moment for Aquatec Maxcon, especially for Mohsen Mobarghei (Design Manager & Commissioning Engineer) for the project as well as Simon Hern (Client) & John Cumming (Superintendent).

"Queensland claims world’s second best tasting tap water"

"Australia has the second best tasting water in the world"

"Mackay Water wins International Silver"

Marian water treatment plant 50 years 50 stories 2020 1

50 Years - 50 Stories: The Chocolate Factory (and the Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket!)

50 Years - 50 Stories - Aquatec Maxcon UASB Cadbury Hobart Claremont

"During the commissioning, Cadbury let me use the lab on Sundays for testing; chocolates everywhere one looked which was quite a distraction (they had no issues with me thieving some). As I was regarded as a local, I could purchase 5kg of chocolate seconds, which I did regularly and took home in my suitcase"

- Geoff Parker, Project Manager for Cadbury's Claremont WWTP (Tasmania).

The Cadbury chocolate factory on the Derwent River in Claremont, a northern suburb of Hobart, Tasmania, was a very popular destination for many travellers, with its factory tours being legendary for mums and kids in particular. The factory had minimal treatment of its liquid waste product, which had been discharged into the river for around 80 years.. (much to the delight of the local fish population?)

In the early 1990s, legislation was introduced which resulted in a general move for industries in the Hobart area to cease river discharge and treat their liquid waste to a standard acceptable for further treatment by the closest sewage treatment plant (STP). Hence Cadbury was one of the factories to recognise the need to install a wastewater treatment plant.

It was generally accepted that anaerobic treatment for high strength waste – in this instance substances such as milk, sugars, cocoa – had several advantages over aerobic treatment, including flexibility of operation (granular sludge can be dormant for months, unlike aerobic sludge), minimal power requirements, and relatively small footprint. As well, it was considered likely that the effluent quality from a UASB plant would be sufficient to meet inflow pollutant limits applicable to the nearest sewage treatment plant without the need for aerobic polishing (which was the case). Interestingly, the adjacent STP was the Cameron Bay plant which had been upgraded by Aquatec Maxcon.

At the time, Aquatec Maxcon had successfully installed the Paques BV designed UASB (Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket) for Golden Circle cannery in Brisbane, and was in the early stages of developing a large Paques UASB plant at the CUB Yatala brewery mid-way between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, when Roger Locke of Hobart consultants Scott and Furphy in conjunction with Cadbury chief engineer Keith Wells approached Aquatec Maxcon to discuss a staged WWTP development. This led to the design and construction of a primary treatment facility including a Balance Tank and DAF unit (dissolved air flotation), with a small volume of the DAF overflow stream being diverted to a Paques anaerobic pilot plant. Upon the completion of successful pilot testing, Cadbury management sought pricing and performance guarantees for a full scale plant. The programme timing from initial primary treatment discussions and design, to commissioning of the secondary treatment UASB occurred over several years.

Being an anaerobic plant with associated generation of methane, AM had installed a gas flare, which was used by Keith Wells to demonstrate to management that when the flare was quite active it essentially represented increased production costs due to wasted milk/sugars/cocoa; i.e. lost profit. The result was that waste streams were more closely monitored and treatment plant inflow was reduced. Cadbury, later, designed and installed a hot water system which utilised the methane as a gas fuel, to further reduce costs.

The UASB process plant readily met all requirements for Cadbury needs; with Aquatec Maxcon soon after becoming the successful tenderer for the supply of the smaller UASB plant for Mars Confectionary at Ballarat.

Story submitted by Geoff Parker, Project Manager

50 Years - 50 Stories: Nereda® at Kingaroy WWTP - An award-winning first for Australia

50 Years - 50 Stories - Kingaroy WWTP Nereda Technology Aquatec Maxcon Australia

In 2014, South Burnett Regional Council engaged Aquatec Maxcon Pty Ltd to design & construct the upgrade of the Kingaroy Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP). The award-winning Kingaroy plant was the first to use Nereda wastewater treatment technology aerobic biomass technology in Australia and also the first municipal aerobic granular sludge system in the world to achieve TN3.

Project managed by our resident Nereda® expert, Monita Naicker, with support from Nereda® Product Manager, Rosalie Rosink, the Kingaroy plant was our first partnership with Nereda wastewater treatment technology, (Royal HaskoningDHV) technology and has proven to be a resounding success.

The effluent discharged from the reactor provides the local Kingaroy community with water via recycled water reclamation. The process has also significantly improved the quality of effluent released from the plant with positive results for the local environment.

Due to the success of Kingaroy, Nereda® technology has been chosen for further projects in Quakers Hill and Longford, with promising results thus far.

Further proof of our success at Kingaroy - Aquatec Maxcon Pty Ltd won the “Infrastructure Project Innovation Award” at the Australian Water Association’s Annual Awards Ceremony held in Queensland during September of 2017.

Stamp of Approval: The project was so successful it made it onto a stamp in the Netherlands!

Kingaroy Stamps Netherlands

50 Years - 50 Stories: Picnic Bay Membrane Bioreactor STP - A first for Picnic Bay (and Australia!)

50 Years - 50 Stories - Picnic Bay MBR STP Magnetic Island AQM

Greg M Johnston (in Ipswich, Queensland) on phone to Geoff Parker (in Sydney, New South Wales) sometime in the year 2001:

Greg M Johnston – “g’day Parker, Greg here”

Geoff Parker – “g’day Greg”

Greg M Johnston – “Parker, we’ve won an MBR contract for Picnic Bay and I want you to manage it”

Geoff Parker – “OK, what’s MBR stand for, and where’s Picnic Bay?”

Greg M Johnston (long pause) – “Parker, best get your *** up here tomorrow...”


Picnic Bay’s Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) was built for Citiwater (a business unit of Townsville City Council) and located on Magnetic Island. Magnetic Island is a 52 km² mountainous island located 8 kilometres offshore from the city of Townsville with a population of approximately 2,100 people. Picnic Bay's MBR was designed late in 2001 and built and commissioned in 2002. Winning the job was significant as it was to be Australia’s first full size tertiary membrane STP. The contract was won by Paul Kwong despite stiff competition from a more favoured opposition company. The MBR process was chosen due to the need to meet the strict environmental discharge requirements set by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Treated effluent was then to be discharged either to the Coral Sea during the annual wet period or diverted to the local golf course in the dry months.

Membranes were of the flat plate type, supplied by Kubota. The primary treatment consisted of a Noggerath multi-purpose screen, followed by a balance tank and secondary aeration – provided by fine bubble submerged Aquablades. The plant design and material selection needed to consider the humid cyclonic climatic conditions, as well as the requirement to minimise underground piping and electrics to counter rodent damage. During the design stage which involved familiarisation with the MBR specifics along with standard mechanicals, aeration, tankage, and plant control design, a young engineer, Peter Ferrando, was seconded to the design team; Peter must have really enjoyed being in charge, because he’s now the Managing Director of the Aquatec Maxcon Group!

Following a relatively straightforward commissioning, the plant readily met all the performance guarantees, however the longer term irony was that the golf course had to ship over nitrogen and phosphorus based fertilisers to spread on the areas sprayed with the treated effluent as the nutrients having been (a bit too successfully?) removed by the MBR process.

As a final testament to the success of the plant, Citiwater won an environmental award in 2003 for the "Magnetic Island Water Recycling" (MIWR) project. Please click here for the full featured article from "Engineers Australia" published in September 2003.

Moving forward - In 2006 (as part of the Water Matters Alliance) -  Aquatec Maxcon carried out installation of the second Kubota MBR train, thus bringing the plant to full capacity. We also carried out a sheet-by-sheet inspection and the cleaning of the existing MBR to evaluate the performance of the Kubota membranes. The plant capacity had not been impacted despite the membranes being more than halfway through their design life. It was a fantastic opportunity to be able to return to the plant and see it outperforming all expectations since it was built almost 20 years ago back in 2002.

Picnic Bay MBR STP 1 Geoff Parker Aquatec Maxcon

Above and below: Picnic Bay's brand new Membrane Bioreactor Sewage Treatment Plant, circa 2002. Photos from Geoff Parker's private collection.

Picnic Bay MBR STP 2 Geoff Parker Aquatec Maxcon

Picnic Bay MBR STP 3 Geoff Parker Aquatec Maxcon

Above: Views from Magnetic Island.. Photo from Geoff Parker's private collection.

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