Construction for bioreactor trials underway

17 July 2018

Queensland Government: Earthworks have begun on a cane farm near Giru where a bioreactor are being constructed as part of a trial to help improve water quality in the Great Barrier Reef.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said the trial would test if bioreactors in a tropical environment could stop excess nitrates in water leaving farms and flowing into the Great Barrier Reef.

“Denitrification bioreactors are a low cost, practical solution to water quality problems,” the Minister said.

“Similar bioreactors operating on horticulture farms in south-east Queensland have been able to significantly reduce nitrate levels in shallow groundwater.

“The site chosen for this first bioreactor is a cane farm adjoining the Haughton River near Giru.

“Excavation is underway at this first trial site, with a further two bioreactors to be trialled at other sites likely to be in the Haughton River and Brandon areas.

“It will take a couple of days to excavate the trench, fill it with woodchips and install the covering to secure the bioreactor.

“It will then start operating after the first irrigation or rainfall event. We’ll monitor the water quality entering and leaving the bioreactors over the next couple of years to determine how just much nitrate they are removing from the water.

“By tackling these challenges today we can ensure they don’t become an even larger problem for future generations to deal with.

“The government can’t solve these problems acting alone. That’s why we work in partnership with the community, business and industry. In this case we have partnered with the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).”

Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch said improving water quality would provide great benefits to the Great Barrier Reef.

“The Great Barrier Reef is Queensland’s greatest natural asset and it is vital we support innovative new ways to protect this natural wonder,” Ms Enoch said.

“The Palaszczuk Government has committed $261 million over five years for the Queensland Reef Water Quality Program, which invests in on-ground water quality improvement projects.

“A strong focus of this program is innovation and working with landholders to reduce pollutant run off into local waterways.

“It is great to see technology, such as these bioreactors, being used as practical solutions to help improve water quality for our valuable Reef.”

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries project leader Carla Wegscheidl said bioreactors were trenches filled with either softwood or hardwood chips, which intercept ground or surface water.

“They enhance the natural denitrification process by converting nitrate into inert nitrogen gas, which is lost to the atmosphere, and stop nitrates entering the Great Barrier Reef,” she said.

“The bioreactor trials are a collaboration between the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

“QUT is leading the design and monitoring components of the project.”

The project is funded by the Queensland Government’s Great Barrier Reef Innovation Fund under the Queensland Reef Water Quality Program.




Source:   Queensland Government -

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