Dual benefits drive wetland project

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Aquaculture students from Challenger TAFE's WA Maritime Training Centre - Fremantle recently helped to complete a nutrient stripping wetland in Gingin that promises to achieve environmental benefits and improved training outcomes.

Boosted by a $45,159 Federal Government Community Water Grant, the wetland will extract nutrients such as phosphorous, and allow groundwater, agricultural run-off and water from aquaculture production to be recycled and reused.

The final stage of the wetland project, the planting of native River Club Rushes to remove the nutrients, was recently conducted by the College’s Fremantle-based aquaculture students.

College Director, Kingsley Waterhouse, said the joint project in collaboration with Gingin Freshwater Lobsters delivered a host of benefits.

“The wetland has improved our ability to educate and train students in sustainable aquaculture practices, and is yet another example of how we work productively with industry to achieve this,” he said.

“We are particularly excited about the ability to positively impact on water resource sustainability and provide other environmental benefits.

“We anticipate water savings of up to 60 million litres per year as a result of this project, and we also expect to control Bulrushes, an invasive weed harmful to wetlands.”

Sediment ponds filter solids from pre-treated fish pond water, which then enters the constructed wetland for nutrient removal via the native plants provided by the College’s WA Horticulture & Environmental Science Skills Centre.

This process is expected to create a ‘seed bank’ of native wetland flora suitable for use in future aquaculture wetland developments and retail sale through retail garden centres.

Aquaculture lecturer, Peter Pendoley, said that apart from a valuable training project for students, the wetland was a vital means of enhancing aquaculture production.

“It is estimated that aquaculture yields 1kg of protein from 500 litres of water, whereas the same yield from chicken farming requires around 4000 litres of water,” he said.

"So, aquaculture is already a very efficient use of water for food production, and this wetland provides even more water efficiency while delivering improved environmental and educational outcomes.”

Ward Curry, of Gingin Freshwater Lobsters said the wetland developed from a “win-win” partnership with the College.

“We receive expert aquaculture support from Challenger TAFE in exchange for providing access to our facilities for training students,” he said.

“This project will produce big-time gains by addressing environmental concerns over excess nutrients and allowing us to re-use treated water in aquaculture and irrigation.

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