Bird in Hand Wastewater Treatment Plant


The new treatment plant is located in Woodside in the Adelaide Hills, and treats wastewater from several catchments including Lobethal, Woodside, Charleston and Inverbrackie. It replaces an existing plant built in 1965 which consisted of a series of 10 treatment lagoons. The discharge from the original plant to Dawesley Creek was foul smelling and often green in colour due to algae, causing ongoing concerns for the local Adelaide Hills community. 

Consultation and collaboration

SA Water consulted extensively with the local community who set the environmental objectives for the new plant.

SA Water chose an Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) model for project delivery, with the contract being awarded to the GOLD Alliance, consisting of Guidera O’Connor and Leed Engineering and Construction.

A highly collaborative approach was followed, not only during the ECI phase, but also during the Design and Construct phase of the project, with SA Water and GOLD working as ’one team’. This resulted in SA Water’s needs being more effectively met without legacy issues or rework being required.

SA Water’s close involvement throughout the project allowed for effective integration of the project outcomes and processes back into SA Water’s business. This has led to better definition and clarity of SA Water systems and processes that will be of benefit to future projects.


  • The plant was designed, constructed and successfully commissioned within two years, achieving operating targets three weeks after commissioning.
  • The project team was able to deliver on time and on budget, while also providing significant added value through a number of innovative improvements to the original scope.
  • The plant features a heat exchanger to dissipate surplus heat in the anaerobic sludge digester rather than a flare stack. This unique approach means that there are no naked flames, a major cause of community concern in the Adelaide Hills.
  • Rather than using an essential services board as specified, all critical equipment is powered by the backup supply with a load shedding/selection arrangement. This innovative approach allows for far greater flexibility and control.
  • Bird in Hand is the first SA Water regional WWTP to:
    • achieve 1 log removal virus (LRV) credit for activated sludge process and 1 LRV for UV disinfection
    • use 10 micron disc filtration and be approved by PIRSA as disc filtration being equivalent to 25 days of lagoon detention
    • utilise a gravity drainage deck thickener rather than the more conventional dissolved air flotation thickener (DAFT)
    • have a mesophilic (heated) anaerobic digester.
  • The plant achieves 100% biosolid reuse via composting.


The completed Bird in Hand wastewater treatment plant is highly energy efficient, allows for 100% reuse of biosolids and has been greeted with great enthusiasm by the local community.

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