Green Resort Credentials in Byron Bay

February 2017

Think Water Northern Rivers was commissioned to develop a world-class, innovative water management program to underpin the resort’s green credentials. Making it a national leader in water conservation with a sewage treatment plant and irrigation system that features Grundfos pumping products, and Netafim filtration and subsurface drip irrigation equipment.

Grundfos Logo
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The Byron at Byron is an award-winning, $45million resort located in Byron Bay and owned by Gerry Harvey. The resort incorporates 92 air-conditioned suites on 45 acres with tennis court, infinity pool, gym, poolside sauna, luxury day spa, and award-winning restaurant and conference facilities.

Byron at Byron resort
The world-class Byron at Byron resort

Project details

The building approval authority, Byron Shire Council, required the resort to have its own sewage treatment plant. However, its owners, Gerry Harvey and Harvey Norman, willingly accepted the challenge and went significantly further by turning its waste product into a vital resource.

The treated wastewater is reused on-site and also supplies the adjoining golf course for irrigation of landscaped areas. Thus the resort has been able to reduce its consumption of town water resources, as well as providing a stable landscaped environment that blends into the surrounding natural coastal wetland, without adversely impacting this ecosystem.

The resort supplements this treated water by capturing and reusing rainwater from the roofs of all the buildings. By storing this rainwater on-site, high volume runoff into the adjoining waterways and wetlands is minimized, and this water is released (via irrigation) back into the environment in a much more gentle and natural manner.

“We wanted to set a standard,” says Ed Haysom, of Haysom Architects Pty Ltd, who designed the resort.

“It is unprecedented in the luxury category of hospitality that an Australian company has researched and developed a project with homogeneous practices at its core. These practices remain a focus for the management of the resort.”

The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa recycles all its sewage through a complex treatment plant and also saves its rainwater. The reclaimed and rainwater collection systems, pumping and dosing station, storage and irrigation systems were designed and installed Think water – Alstonville, Northern NSW.

“It was a challenging project,” says Managing Director of Think Water-Alstonville, Mr Lee Rothwell. “The objective was to integrate and prioritize water resources available to the resort irrigation system, ensuring that rainwater and recycle water were used in preference to the potable town water supply.

“At the same time, we had to comply with Councils consent conditions and all other statutory requirements.  The works were completed in stages spanning a twelve-month period.”

“The resort has made a concerted effort to conserve water.  All on-site wastewater, as well as rainwater, is collected and treated for re-use.”

“The treated wastewater is passed through a nanofiltration system and then pumped into either a 110 kilolitre or a 50 kilolitre storage tank – with both tanks using replicated dosing systems.  The stored water is constantly re-circulated through the Grundfos digital dosing systems that monitor water quality and dose it with chlorine to provide residual disinfection, and acid to maintain the correct ph balance.”

Rainwater is filtered and pumped directly into the storage tanks. Although relatively clean, this water is mixed with the reclaimed supply, and so must also be monitored and maintained via the dosing systems.

Water in the storage tanks is used around the resort for irrigation purposes. Grundfos VSD pump sets provide a high efficiency, low energy cost mechanism for delivering the water to the irrigation system.

Netafim Arkal Spinklin and Media filters remove any impurities from the water likely to affect the performance of the irrigation system components.

Irrigation water is applied to the landscaped areas via a network of subsurface Bioline™ drip tube. This system provides a high degree of uniformity to the water applied, as well as being completely inconspicuous below the soil and vegetation.

Additional reclaimed water storage is provided to ensure that surplus recycled water flows are not wasted. A 600 kilolitre in-ground storage tank (located beneath the resorts tennis court) stores excess processed water from the sewage treatment plant when the resort irrigation system is deactivated for extended periods. This occurs when natural rainfall shuts down the sprinkler system via a rain switch, or through a soil moisture monitoring interface.

Water collected in this wet weather storage is pumped a short distance to the Byron Bay Golf Course. Here it is used to irrigate prominent landscaped areas adjacent to the fairways.  Nothing is wasted through unregulated run-off.

Lee Rothwell says the implementation of this system provides a significant contribution to water conservation and savings for the resort, and wastewater reduction for the Byron community as a whole. The system is reliable and very energy efficient.

The Byron at Byron management is delighted with the system.

“We expected a few teething problems, but they have been very isolated.  Since its commissioning, the system has met our expectations.  Many of our guests comment very favourably about how we re-use water rather than wasting it,” says the General Manager, Mr John Parché

“And in this day and age, when water is an increasingly vital resource, we believe that The Byron at Byron is playing its role in demonstrating that – with a little forethought – even sewage can be treated and re-used in a highly beneficial way.”