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SCU showcases ecotechnology


11 August 2004
The success of reed beds in treating waste water is just one example of the use of ecotechnology to be highlighted by Southern Cross University (SCU) at the NSW Regional Sustainability Seminar in Lismore on Thursday (August 12).

Dr Leigh Davision, the head of SCU’s Centre for Ecotechnology, will be presenting a workshop on the use of ecotechnologies to treat a range of effluents during the one-day seminar.

Dr Davison said the use of ecotechnology was becoming more common, particularly in regional areas where lower land prices favoured the use of extensive solar powered systems like wetlands and reclaimed water reuse schemes.

“The discipline of ecotechnology only first emerged in the late 1980s. It is aimed at doing jobs that are often done using chemicals and energy intensive approaches,” Dr Davison said.

“A lot of the things we now expend energy on and use chemicals for we can do using natural systems. That is the basis for ecotechnology.”

One of the most successful ecotechnologies developed by SCU has been the reed bed for use in on-site wastewater management systems. Dr Davison said the reed beds (horizontal sub surface flow wetlands) had a number of advantages over mechanical technologies in that they provided a cheap, no-maintenance method of treating domestic and commercial wastewater in areas not connected to the sewerage system.

“The mechanical systems are more expensive and require ongoing maintenance, whereas the reed beds just keep chugging away. They don’t use power, they remove nitrogen and there is very little need for human intervention in their operation.”

Other projects being conducted by SCU’s Centre for Ecotechnology include research into the use of mop crops, such as hemp and bamboo, and harvestable forage crops to reuse the water and nutrients in treated effluents.

He said the ongoing drought and increasing pressure on water storage systems throughout NSW had prompted greater awareness of the need for more sustainable technology.

“The State Government is starting to put new regulations in place in relation to water conservation and energy. Basically they require that new houses have to fulfil certain requirements. The public is aware that this is a big issue

“The exciting thing about ecotechnology is that we are only just starting to scratch the surface of what can be done. This is an area that’s just opening up and there is a long way to go.”

The NSW Regional Sustainability 2004 Seminars have been held for the last three years in a bid to help regional communities achieve sustainable outcomes. They are organised by the Department of Environment and Conservation, Department of Energy, Utilities and Sustainability, the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources and the Department of Primary Industry.

For information about the seminar contact Impact Environmental Conferences on 02 95701577.

Photo caption: Reed beds developed by SCU provide an environmentally friendly alternative to treating waste water.

Media contact: Brigid Veale, SCU Media Liaison, 66593006 or m. 0439 680 748.