Harnessing the sun’s power is delivering both environmental benefits and significant cost savings for Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC) at the Wetalla Water Reclamation Facility.

TRC Water and Waste Committee chair Cr Nancy Sommerfield said Council recently completed the replacement of fibre glass roof sheeting material for the solar hall structure that was commissioned in 2006. “The solar hall is one of a handful of similar facilities in operation across Australia. Council’s wastewater operations staff identified that the ageing solar hall roof sheeting panels were not drying out the biosolids as efficiently as they could,” Cr Sommerfield said. “Typically, the solar hall processes around 41-46% of the treated wet biosolids at the Wetalla Water Reclamation Facility. This dry treatment process aerates and condenses the biosolids, making it easier and cheaper to transport than wet biosolids. This process reduces Council’s biosolids transport costs by up to 30 per cent per year.”

TRC Water and Waste portfolio leader Cr Bill Cahill said from an operational aspect, Council was able to manage the Wetalla facility more efficiently. “Council has improved the efficiency of the solar hall over the original installation,” Cr Cahill said. “Research into the technology revealed that the original sheeting material was an optimal product, but a new profile and sheet colour would maximise the light transmission through the panel. The panels increase the heat gain in the solar hall at ground level and improve the efficiency of the dry treatment process. The contractors started work at Wetalla on July 1 this year. They removed the old roof and installed the new panels in stages. The facility measures 120 metres by 40 metres.”

The Wetalla Waste Water Reclamation Facility receives more than 20 megalitres of sewage per day and uses biological processes, such as natural microbes, to breakdown human waste and food scraps to turn human waste into soil conditioner.

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