2019 Roads Congress Profile – technical tours

Image shows a tour group walking on a boardwalk at Laratinga Wetlands in 2014.

Delegates joining our Road and Transport Congress technical tours on 18 November will visit South Australia’s largest Council wastewater treatment plant and recycled water scheme, which is operated by congress hosts, Mt Barker District Council.

One technical tour will visit the council’s treatment plant, while the second will see how council staff are managing major development sites and other challenges in one of the state’s fastest growing areas.

The district lies about half an hour from Adelaide, and has a rapidly growing Urban Area of about 1,300 hectares.

“The growth area has 15 major developers active and over 100 live stages from assessment through to construction and maintenance,” Acting General Manager of Planning and Development, Marc Voortman, told ALGA News.

“The rezoning of this land occurred in 2010 by the Minister and did not include an infrastructure plan.

“Since that time Council has actively planned for this growth and has used innovative mechanisms, such as separate rates under the Local Government Act, to fund and secure future funds for much of the required infrastructure.”

Despite these challenges, the Council and developers have achieved success, such as through their award-winning water sensitive urban design, affordable housing to growth management and developer partnership, Mr Voortman added.

There are many large, majestic gum trees throughout the growth area, along with significant stands of native vegetation, and Council has worked hard to ensure the trees were embraced, not removed.

Council planners, arborists and engineers worked with developers to devise techniques and construction methodologies for “tree sensitive roadways” where a road must pass a tree root plate or tree protection zone.

Phil Burton, Council’s General Manager Infrastructure, said the wastewater tour was much more than a treatment facility.

“It incorporates an award-winning wetland that polished the treated water and creates an amazing recreational and environmental asset that is much loved by locals and sought after by visitors,” he said.

“The rapidly growing population of Mount Barker and surrounds is creating an enormous demand for this service, which is now clearly the state’s second largest wastewater system

“We’ll explain plans for the future and how we intend to expand our services whilst protecting and enhancing our environment through sensitive disposal of water and creating opportunities for agri-business through distribution of recycled water to other parts of our district.”

The plant treats 3,200 kilo litres of effluent each day. Population growth in the region means that the plant is forecast to treat 5,400 kilo litres a day by 2020, the Council said.

Guests will visit the Laratinga Wetlands, which received an environment award from the United Nations Association of Australia, for its role in filtering treated effluent before it is reused by local irrigators and on sporting fields.

The wetlands, built in 1999 to polish water before it reaches Mt Barker Creek, is home to more than 150 bird species.

Read our other 2019 Roads Congress profiles:

Infrastructure and local roads funding (18 October)

Drones (11 October)

Recycled road surfaces, crumbed rubber, and the circular economy (27 September)

Image: Laratinga Wetlands tour in 2014. Friends of Aldinga Scrub/Flickr.