Friday morning, we left downtown Melbourne and headed to the Western Melbourne wastewater treatment plant for a tour. This treatment plant is 11,000 hectares and provides water the entire city of Melbourne with clean water. The plant was built in 1875 and has been in operation ever since. We began by learning that the plant cleans the water following a natural process, without the addition of chemicals, and that it uses gravity to move water through the system, not electricity. The tour began by looking at the raw sewage river which was composed of 99% water and 1% solids. The Melbourne wastewater treatment plant uses the lagoon style to clean the water. As the water flows across the length of the lagoons, biosolids settle to the bottom and can be easily removed. Methanogens in the lagoon break down the biosolids producing methane which can be converted to electricity. Long shallow basins allow the sun to shine on the surface of the water removing the pathogens. Once the biosolids are separated from the clean water, they can be used as road fillers and fertilizers. At the end of the tour we were able to see the wetlands at the treatment plant. These wetlands are home to many birds including those from Siberia and Tasmania.
Today the second stop we went to was the mount rothwell biodiversity center. This was very eye opening because it exposed us to all of the native species of Australia. After getting a presentation on all of the different species of wildlife this helped us gain new insights on the wildlife Australia has to offer. We learned that there’s only about 100 wallabies left in Australia and realized the great importance to help preserve their habitats in order to keep this species alive. This can also relate to species back in the United States that we want to preserve as well as the environment around them. We also saw dingos, and multiple species of native birds to Australia that helped us realize the many species Australia is home to with its diverse habitat. After what we learned there we had a new appreciation of the wildlife and hope to make an impact on preserving their environment for the rest of the time we are in the country and when we come back to the United States.