Worm turns for waste

February 06, 2018

Worms at work... Booth Transport project manager Brendan Edwards holds some of the worms that will be used to purify water.

It's a deal... Sustainable Melbourne Fund chief executive Scott Bocskay, Moira Shire Mayor Libro Mustica and Booth Transport director Brian Booth agree on a deal about the worm farm at the Strathmerton business.

Bed rest... Worms in the "maternity bed". The wood chips as well as the beds will be transported to the treatment plant once construction is complete.

Worming up... Booth Transport project manager Brendan Edwards stands in one of the beds where the worms will be located.

Worms are turning waste into water at a Strathmerton treatment plant in what will be an Australian first.

‘‘We are using worms as the engine of our waste and water treatment plant,’’ Booth Transport project manager Brendan Edwards said.

Common in Chile, the technology allows the business to clean 125million litres of wastewater a year, which comes from cleaning up to 50 tankers per day as well as silos.

‘‘The water treatment facility we have will be known as a worm farm ... Traditional methods are very costly, so using a worm farm is a cost-effective method by filtering for a start and then it will be sprayed onto the worms where the worms will be eating the food, so the fats and proteins, and then that will reduce the biological oxygen of that wastewater,’’ Strathmerton plant manager Michael Banfield said.

‘‘It will then go through a desalination process which remove the salts from that water.

‘‘That water can then be put back into the irrigation channel where the water can be reused for irrigation.’’

Mr Banfield said it was obvious from the start of the project that wastewater was going to be a problem.

‘‘As the plant was being built, wastewater was going to be a hassle.

‘‘Bringing milk in is fine but with all the cleaning and rinsing of the line it becomes a waste stream. This waste stream we are now able to clean up and be able to reuse any as clean water.’’

Mr Banfield said using the town’s existing water plant was not an option.

‘‘It doesn’t go out this far and it’s not very cost-effective,’’ he said.

Moira Shire Mayor Libro Mustica said the project would allow the shire to attract more businesses to the region on top of the 77 jobs that the project would deliver.

‘‘It will attract other businesses to the town,’’ Cr Mustica said.

‘‘We have the raw material within the Moira shire to attract other companies and we want these companies to expand and grow.’’

The company was able to fund the project with help from the Sustainable Melbourne Fund.

‘‘A project like this reduces operating costs associated with business so those reduced operating expenses enable the loan to be repaid,’’ SMF chief executive Scott Bocskay said.

‘‘By saving water they’re actually paying the loan. Also, this a three-way agreement between ourselves as a lender, also the local council and Booths, so it’s a loan repaid through council rates,’’ he said.

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