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Vacuums solve Busselton problem

A multi-million dollar sewerage program being undertaken in a joint venture between the Water Corporation of WA and consulting engineers Gutteridge Haskins & Davey Pty Ltd (GHD) has turned to vacuum systems to reduce costs and overcome civil engineering problems.

Projects completed include the Busselton scheme, which is now operational, and the Port Hedland vacuum sewerage system which has just been commissioned.

According to GHD wastewater systems manager Tony Norrish, vacuum sewerage is cheaper than conventional methods and may be preferable to gravity sewerage where there is a high ground water table, where land is particularly flat or where rock conditions make gravity sewers very expensive.

This last was the case in Port Hedland.

Mr Norrish said comprehensive design and operational standards had been developed, including recommendations on the operating parameters to achieve a responsible balance between capital costs and ongoing reliability.

“GHD has engineered more than 200 sewerage systems throughout Australia in a variety of locations, from mining communities to resorts and cities,” he said.

“Many have required making a choice between vacuum and conventional systems.”

Services range from scheme planning, design criteria and detailed design and specification, to operating cost evaluation, financial comparisons with alternative systems and project management.

Mr Norrish said the vacuum system could be more expensive to operate due to the continuous use of pumps running ‘all the time’ to move waste.

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