Nature-based water treatment – New Zealand’s cleaner future starts here

Aqua Curo welcomed representatives from the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Western Bay District Council and Tapuika Iwi Authority to its pilot plant trial on Monday 15th November 2021.  This bioremediation pilot plant uses macroalgae to remove nitrogen and phosphorus from treated wastewater to improve water quality prior to being released back into our waterways.

Invited guests visited Aqua Curo’s bioremediation research plant, based in Te Puke, which is in the midst of a 12 month trial, with the focus on collecting critical data to help protect New Zealand waterways through the use of live algae.

While using macroalgae like a natural sponge to consume pollutants is not a world-first, it is New Zealand’s first scientific trial of its kind and uses unique engineering solutions, with eyes on the commercialisation of the science post-trial.

Quayside Holdings is the 100% owner of Aqua Curo, proudly supporting this new method to clean our waterways in partnership with the University of Waikato’s world-leading bioremediation scientists in the Environmental Research Institute.  Lead scientist Dr Marie Magnusson says the UoW team are all very excited about the pilot trial. “There is nothing like seeing your research taken to the next scale by industry, where there is a real opportunity for impact.”

This initiative is also strongly supported by Western Bay of Plenty District Council through use of Council land adjacent to the Te Puke waste water treatment plant site for the trial plant.

Quayside’s CEO, Scott Hamilton, said this collaborative project has been a five-year journey to date.  “The harvested macroalgae consumes the nitrogen and phosphorus that still remains present in treated wastewater, in an eco-friendly and more economical way.  It truly is nature at its best”.

Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Garry Webber says given the spotlight on water quality in New Zealand’s rivers, lakes, wetlands and harbours at this point in time, Quayside are to be congratulated for bringing this cutting edge technology to New Zealand.

“We are privileged to have our Te Puke wastewater plant chosen as the New Zealand trial site for the technology.”

Using a controlled environment to introduce live algae to produce cleaner water also provides opportunity for an enriched biomass product at the end of the process – a product that has potential for other uses such as fertilizer, animal feed or other plant-based products.

Cleaner water is not only a community-benefit, but there’s potential for a whole new industry to leverage off better sustainable practices.

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