Teacher background information
What is wastewater?
Wastewater is the flow of used water from a community. It comprises 99.97% water by mass and the remaining 0.03% is organic and inorganic matter either dissolved or suspended in the water.
Wastewater treatment: in the beginning
Wastewater treatment in WA was primitive until the early 20th century. In 1896 the colonial government commissioned investigations into the need for sewerage systems for Perth and Fremantle. In 1910 a septic tank facility was constructed near Robbs Jetty to serve Fremantle, with treated wastewater discharged into the ocean.
In 1912 a similar facility was installed at Claisebrook, along with reticulation (piped) sewers to drain sewage from Perth and East Perth into the Claisebrook plant. Treated wastewater from Claisebrook was pumped across the Swan River to biological filters on Burswood Island, with the filtrate discharged into the river.
The Claisebrook plant was abandoned in 1936, following pollution of the Swan River estuary by wastewater from the plant. Sewage was diverted to the gravity collection system and treatment plant at Subiaco (completed in 1927). A similar plant was subsequently built in Swanbourne to service residential areas in its vicinity.
By the Second World War Perth was 73% sewered, but during the 1940s and 1950s funding for sewerage was almost totally curtailed. As a result, newly established suburbs had to rely on individual septic tanks. Today these suburbs are the target of the Infill Sewerage Program to provide sewer access to all properties.
Perth’s wastewater treatment plants
There are four major wastewater treatment plants servicing Perth and its surrounds:
- Subiaco (1927) and Woodman Point (1966) serve the south and south-west of Perth.
- Beenyup (1969), which serves the urban and light industrial development of the northern and some of the eastern suburbs.
- Alkimos (2010) services the far northern suburbs.
- An additional facility, the East Rockingham plant is scheduled to open in 2016.
What is an Inspector of Nuisances?
An Inspector of Nuisance is, or was, the title of an office in several English-speaking jurisdictions. In many jurisdictions this term is now archaic, the position and/or term having been replaced by others. This office was generally associated with public health and sanitation. The nearest modern equivalent of this position is an Environmental Health Officer.