James Dalton has worked at Orange Waste Water Treatment Plant as a plant operator since 2001. He previously worked at the Water Filtration Plant. This plant runs 24 hours a day and James is one of eight staff, comprising five operators, an environmental scientist, a liquid trade waste officer and a supervisor.
"I think the community has got no idea about what we do here. They say, 'How can you work out there?' I can’t smell anything – it's quite fine to me. All our work clothes get washed and dried here and we shower here after work - we’re not back in the Dark Ages."
Our main objective here is to get rid of all the 'nasties' in the water. The EPA [Environment Protection Authority] has put a lot more conditions in our licence – stricter controls on what we let out of our plant, phosphorus and nitrogen levels in particular. As operators we're pretty vigilant and aware of how important our role is in the environment.
This plant is one of the best in NSW. It's a multi-million dollar plant and it incorporates a lot of different processes. It runs 24 hours a day. It's all automated. Everything is run by telemetry.
The main challenge here is the running of the plant because it's quite large and involves many treatment stages. They are quite complex in controlling and balancing all the different processes and treatments to meet the requirements.
The final effluent gets pumped out to Cadia gold mine to use in their processes. Cadia takes the lot. That's the largest re-use system in Australia. It used to go into Blackman's Swamp Creek and that's why we had to reduce levels of phosphorus, nitrogen and ammonia.
I think the community has got no idea about what we do here. They say, 'How can you work out there?' I can't smell anything – it's quite fine to me. All our work clothes get washed and dried here and we shower here after work. We're not back in the Dark Ages.