Twenty years ago, long before sustainability was popular, our vision was to
find a way to harvest Queensland’s abundant rainfalls and uncouple our business
from Brisbane’s water supply.
tanks on site
On the 20th anniversary of water recycling at Nursery Traders we achieved the
goal of saving 500 million litres of potable water by World Water Day 2012.
Today on a site that would otherwise use approximately 68,000,000 litres of
potable water annually, our total water savings reached 66,240,000 litres in
2010 and 65,650,000 litres in 2011. That’s the equivalent of more than 1200
individuals’ annual water consumption—taking water savings to an unprecedented
98% and 97% respectively.
Moreover, this achievement represented a 62% drop in
potable water use compared to the previous two years. All told we have decreased
potable water use from 54 megalitres in 2000 to 2.3 megalitres in 2011—a 97%
saving achieved while increasing our irrigated area by 31%.
Reaching 98% potable water savings, there are many months where we use no
potable water to irrigate our entire 12,000 square metre nursery.
Achieving this goal wasn’t easy. It is a direct result of persistence,
innovation, determination and a process of continuous improvement all supported
by daily monitoring, extensive on-going analysis, measurement and review.
We have delivered the lion’s share of these pioneering sustainability
projects with no government or industry funding—committing an unprecedented 30%
of all capital expenditure over the past decade to sustainability projects.
Here’s how we did it.
1 delivered our purpose-built facility 3500m2—incorporating
water recycling infrastructure into the design
1 - Water recycling infrastructure
2 expanding water recycling, water capture and filtration
infrastructure—including sand filtration and four 35,000 litre storage
tanks, reaching total capacity 142,000 litres
2 - Four storage tanks
|2002 Stage 3 enhanced
rain collection methods with underground catchment tanks, a chamber to
divert storm-water from car parks and buildings, filtration, tank control
infrastructure, silt bins and grass swales taking our collection capacity
to 227,000 litres. This also included an EPA demonstration project to
showcase to industry the potential of recycled water use
the underground water tank
the underground water tannk
plumbing and piping for the new tank
finished product - tank is underground
As part of this stage we also:
- grouped plants by similar water use
- installed and operated sprinklers to increase water droplet size at
optimal water pressure
- installed drip irrigation and capillary matting
- monitored water use daily
- constructed new areas with underground drainage for collection and re-use
- developed/cultivated a workplace culture focused on minimising water
use and maximising water recycling.
2008 Stage 4 advanced our water recycling
storm-water harvesting methods and infrastructure—making use of every
capture surface including 3200 m2 of roof area, 4200 m2 of concrete
pathways, and 3500 m2 of roadways and parking. Four additional
above-ground tanks and pumping, piping and switching equipment were
commissioned, designed to maximise stormwater harvesting together with
optimising gravity to minimise power use. On completion, total on-site
storage was 698,000 litres and we had achieved a decrease in potable water
use of 93% per hectare
8, 9 and 10 under constructionTanks
8, 9 and 10 completed192,000
litre tank, completed and ready to collect storm
2010 Stage 5. Involved installing an on-site
weather station to monitor rainfall, humidity, solar radiation,
evapotranspiration and wind speed each hour automatically adjust the
irrigation cycle. In addition a new chlorine storage and injection system
improved filter efficiency and—along with new sand filters and other
measures—tripled our rate of water treatment while reducing energy
consumption by around 80%. We achieved total water self-sufficiency by
using no potable water in irrigating our entire nursery of more than
12,000 m2 in March, May, August, September, October and December of
storage and injection system
Our target now is to be a zero footprint business by end of 2015—zero
water, zero power and zero waste.