Currently wastewater treatment lagoons, are widely used for rural, regional, and low-density urban communities, however they have several shortcomings, including; odour impacts, limited treatment effectiveness, high greenhouse gas emissions and evaporative losses, and propensity to cause Cyanobacterial blooms.  

This project investigates the integration of high rate anaerobic treatment with a high rate alage production system as a novel, low-cost retrofitting strategy for regional wastewater treatment ponds. 

The project will demonstrate a technological solution for upgrading existing wastewater treatment lagoons through simple, low-cost retrofitting, and will:  

  • Provide a reliable water supply for beneficial reuse for irrigation driving further economic development in rural communities, whilst improving water security; 
  • Substantially reduced odour and greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Reduce operator intervention;  
  • Enhance process management outcomes and improve water quality;
  • Implement machine learning and AI technologies; 
  • Integrated process model for a high rate anaerobic and high rate algae pond treatment systems;
  • Decrease treatment times;
  • Increase existing asset treatment capacity;
  • Eliminate the accumulation of sludge; and   
  • Enable the recovery of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous embedded in algae biomass. 

This project demonstrates the integrated anaerobic and high rate alage technology, including a remote monitoring and control system, at both pilot (Luggage Point RRC, QLD) and demonstration scale (Leanyer Sanderson STP, NT and Helidon RRC, QLD) to validate the technology at a larger scale. 


  • Urban Utilities (QLD)
  • The University of Western Australia (WA)
  • Aquatec Maxcon (QLD)
  • Lockyer Valley Regional Council (QLD)
  • Power and Water Corporation (NT)
  • Department of Environment and Science (QLD)


  • Federal Government Cooperative Research Centre 
  • Urban Utilities 
  • Northern Territory Power and Water 
  • Aquatec Maxcon 
  • Department of Environment and Science (QLD) 
  • Lockyer Valley Regional Council (QLD) 

Project Outcomes

  • Winner: 2022 QLD AWA R&D Excellence Award  



  • Development of an integrated process model for an anaerobic digester (AD) – high-rate algae pond (HRAP) wastewater treatment system – In preparation 
  • Cost effective soft sensing for wastewater treatment facilities IEEE Access – Under review

Conference Proceedings:

  • AWA Q-Water 2021 - Transformation of regional lagoon-based treatment
  • AWA Future Water 2020 - Transforming wastewater treatment in regional Australia with robust technology for multiple benefits
  • AWA Northern Territory Water in the Bush 2021 – Leanyer Sanderson treatment pilot system
  • AWA (North QLD) 2020 –Integrated high-rate anaerobic and high-rate alage treatment in regional Australia 
  • AWA (North QLD) 2020 - Use of ponds for sewage treatment in QLD 
  • AWA Q-water 2021- Transformation of regional lagoon-based treatment
  • AWA Ozwater – 2022 Conference Presentation – Regional sewage treatment transformation: delivering robust green technology


  • IWA Leading edge technology (USA) 2022 Completing the circular wastewater economy through water energy and nutrient recovery.
  • AWA (North QLD) 2020 - Plant wide modelling of a novel two-stage anaerobic -algae wastewater treatment system
  • IWA - Copenhagen World Water Congress Transforming wastewater treatment in regional Australia.


  • PhD – D. Somasundaram – Process modelling and control of cost-effective wastewater treatment processes – in progress
  • PhD – M. Alvi – Machine learning for prognostics of wastewater treatment plants – in progress 
  • Honours – A. Wylie – Comparison of machine learning models for soft-sensing in wastewater treatment plants
  • Honours – L. Cunningham – Intelligent algorithms for soft sensing in sensor network deployments – In progress