Water is essential for paper making. Untreated raw water is used in a number of areas including the transport of fibres through a paper machine, and as a process coolant.
Each day the Maryvale Mill draws an average of 64 ML of raw water from a regional reservoir managed by Gippsland Water in the Latrobe Valley; no water is drawn from Melbourne's water supply. Significantly however, Maryvale Mill's water usage per tonne of paper produced has reduced by 66% in the last 20 years and an efficient production process means that the raw water is re-used five times on average. two-thirds of it is treated and returned to the local river for environmental flow and downstream users, and eventually the ocean. The Mill has a comprehensive discharge monitoring program in place to ensure that effluent does not negatively affect receiving waters, and only untreated raw water is drawn from the reservoir.
The Maryvale Mill site contains a large wetlands area. This area, which was drained for agricultural service in the early 1900's, was restored by the Mill 20 years ago. This wetland is now a major local bird sanctuary, and is used as a stopover by some migrating species. In February 2010, local environment group the Latrobe Valley Field Naturalists visited the area, spotting 57 species of water birds, including the elusive Australian Spotted Crake. They will continue to contuct site surveys every two years on an ongoing basis.
GIPPSLAND WATER REDUCTION INITIATIVE
In mid-2005 it was announced that a new wastewater treatment facility, the ‘Gippsland Water Factory' (GWF) would be built in the Latrobe Valley to service industrial and domestic customers in the central Gippsland region. The primary goals of the Water Factory scheme were two fold:
- To improve the quality of effluent prior to it being discharged to ocean outfalls; and
- Provide high quality recycled water to key industrial users in the region.
Construction of the Water Factory commenced in January 2007, and it began treating domestic wastewater in late-November 2009. It is anticipated that the GWF will provide the Maryvale Mill with the opportunity to source recycled water to supplement (and thereby reduce) its existing raw water usage, which is currently sourced from a regional reservoir.
We estimate that when available, recycled water from the Gippsland Water Factory will account for approximately 15% (8-10 ML) of the Maryvale Mill’s total projected daily water use. We are also exploring ways to further increase our intake of recycled water in the future.