THE $23-million expansion and upgrade of Awaba Waste Management Facility is in full swing.
It will include the creation of two new landfill cells which will add 10 years of storage to the tip.
But gone are the days of local councils simply digging more and bigger holes to deal with a city’s rubbish.
Today, unprecedented levels of engineering and science are applied to finding sustainable and environmentally sound solutions to a city’s waste challenges.
This new approach was evident when the Lakes Mail toured the tip this week.
Council, in July, awarded Daracon a $16.5 million construction contract for the expansion of the tip.
The expansion also includes a new Community Recycling Centre, weighbridge, waste transfer station, wheel wash and administration building.
Remondis, meanwhile, is constructing its $6.3 million facility for processing food and garden waste at the tip, under a contract with the council.
That’s where the contents of the city’s new weekly green-bin collections will be processed from July 30.
That will be a game changer for the city.
Lake Macqaurie City Council’s city strategy director Tony Farrell said new technologies would enable the expansion to reduce the environmental impacts of landfilling.
“The expansion of the landfill is just one way that council is managing the city’s waste,” Mr Farrell said.
“We’ve taken a 360-degree approach which, alongside the expansion of the Awaba Waste Management Facility, includes ongoing diversion of recyclables and garden waste from landfill; development of a new processing facility for food and garden waste at Awaba; and an ongoing education program encouraging our residents to avoid, reduce, reuse and recycle.”
Remondis staff are expected to begin work at the company’s new facility at Awaba on December 22.
The Remondis facility will process garden waste only, until food scraps are added to the green-bin mix from July 30, next year.
A key feature of the tip’s expansion is construction of a pipeline between the facility and Hunter Water Corporation's waste water pump station, at Rathmines.
The tip will use that pipeline for leachate disposal.
Leachate is the nitrogen-rich liquid that percolates through landfill cells.
Mr Farrell said leachate was controlled by the combination of lining the base of the landfill cells, and a gravity-fed storage pond at the low point of the facility.
“There is actually seven layers of lining in the cells,” Mr Farrell said.
It was a complex mix which included geo-textile fabrics and impervious clays, he said.
Currently, the leachate collected in the storage pond at Awaba is pumped back to the top of the site.
Once the pipeline is constructed to Hunter Water’s waste water station, that leachate will be treated then piped off site for disposal.
“In future, we’ll have two leachate ponds at the bottom of the site,” Mr Farrell said.
“The second pond will provide us with many days of storage if, for some reason, we can’t dispose of it through the sewer. It’s a contingency.”
The works at Awaba are integral to the city’s transition to Phase 2 of the council’s three-bin service strategy.
That will involve the fortnightly collection of red garbage bins and, on alternate weeks, yellow recycling bins, and the weekly collection of green bins which will include food scraps.
While the jury might still be out on whether the fortnightly collection of red bins will suit all residents, there is no doubt that visiting the Awaba tip will be a more user-friendly experience.
“It will be a much better experience for our customers,” Mr Farrell said.
In the meantime, however, Mr Farrell said there would be some short-term pain for those visiting the tip.
“There is a lot of activity at the site, so there will be some disruption,” he said.
“And the other issue is that the excavation of the second pond might lead to some odour issues, but that will be managed as best we can, and covered as soon as possible.”
There is capacity for nine landfill cells at Awaba, which would meet the city’s needs for another 30 years.
Wheely good idea
ONE of the interesting additions to the revamped Awaba Waste Management Facility will be a wheel wash.
It’s a bay to be used primarily by the city’s fleet of garbage trucks on exiting the tip.
The vehicles will pass through the bay where the wheels and under-carriage will be sprayed with water, to remove the mud and other residue that might otherwise be transported by the trucks back onto local roads.
Project engineer Ross Lorenz described the design as something “like an upside down car wash”.
Lake Macquarie City Council’s city strategy director Tony Farrell said the wheel wash would serve an important function.
Mud on the roads could cause a driving hazard, while the moisture in the mud contributed to the creation of pot-holes, he said. Mud on roads also often ends up in local waterways.