Like many open area leisure facilities built before the current decade, Curlewis Golf Club relied on potable water to meet the majority of its extensive irrigation needs. In addition, harvested stormwater was occasionally used to supplement potable supplies when it was available.
This water strategy served the Club reasonably well until the peak drought years of 2006 and 2007. During this period a critical shortage of water for irrigation had an immediate impact on the condition of the golf course and was the direct cause of declining membership levels. Unchecked this trend had the potential to eventually close the business.
The resolution to this uncertain future was found in the installation of a Sewer Mining and Recycled Water Treatment Plant. The plant combines a Membrane Bio-Reactor (MBR) and Chlorination process that produces up to 250 kilolitres per day of recycled water from municipal sewage. This recycled water is suitable for medium exposure risk end uses (Class B) and now constitutes the majority of water used for irrigation at Curlewis Golf Club. During periods of peak demand, captured stormwater is used to supplement the recycled water supply. Additionally the plant is equipped with the capacity to control nitrogen levels in the recycled water so that it can be used as controlled source of fertilizer matched to the specific needs of irrigated turf.
Curlewis Golf Club has secured a long term, sustainable and cost effective source of irrigation water and regained a viable basis of business. The project delivered in three key areas:
- Demonstrated that sewer mining can be a cost effective source of irrigation water for a large area community asset.
- Development costs for establishing a leading sewer mining project with full regulatory compliance and water authority consultation are now invested and available as benefits for following projects.
Advance industry knowledge
- Provide a project template for end users, water authorities and regulators.
- Barwon Water has used the Curlewis project to develop sewer mining policies and agreements which are now available to similar projects and water authorities around Victoria.
- The project has high visibility in the golfing community inspiring a number of golf courses to closely monitor Curlewis’ performance with a view to implementing similar solutions.
- First in use in Victoria of Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) technology to produce recycled water from sewer mining. Similar projects, such as the MCG recycle plant, are now following Curlewis’s lead.
- Victorian first in mining sewerage from a rising main. Waste activated sludge, a by-product of biological treatment, is returned to the rising main immediately downstream of the extraction point.
- The membrane bioreactor enables nitrogen levels to be varied independent of recycled water production. This allows control of the quantity of nitrogen applied to the course to closely match the requirements of the turf with the ultimate goal of eliminating the use of artificial fertilisers at Curlewis altogether and sourcing all nitrogen from recycled water.