World-first wastewater technology to clean Great Barrier Reef


In a world-first, RegenAqua’s breakthrough technology uses macroalgae to remove harmful nutrients from wastewater before it enters waterways and pollutes the Great Barrier Reef. The launch of RegenAqua’s technology comes after its successful project at Burdekin Shire Council’s Ayr-Brandon wastewater treatment facility.

Scientifically developed over ten years at James Cook University, RegenAqua’s technology uses native Australian seaweed and macroalgae combined with sunlight to naturally remove contaminants such as phosphorus and nitrogen from municipal wastewater treatment plants, aquaculture farming, abattoirs and agriculture, improving water quality.

Australian of The Year and climate change scientist Professor Tim Flannery says, “RegenAqua is a game-changer for the health of the Great Barrier Reef, with incredible potential for removing harmful nutrients from our aquatic environment, and significantly improving coastal and reef ecosystems Australia-wide.”

Flannery adds, “It’s an absolute no-brainer sustainable solution that’s going to change the landscape of industries – for the better. The announcement of this project moving forward confirms the industry’s confidence in RegenAqua’s technology, and I am excited to witness the results.”

Burdekin Shire Council Mayor Lyn McLaughlin says, “Council, together with James Cook University and Pacific Bio (RegenAqua), has invested significantly in the macroalgal bioremediation urban waste project, which will revolutionise the treatment of wastewater for all smaller coastal Councils.”

Pacific Bio CEO Sam Bastounas says, “This ground-breaking technology is a low cost, zero-carbon circular economy solution that firstly captures harmful nutrients from wastewater, and secondly, harvests and repurposes the algae into high crop yielding bio-stimulants for farmers, via a product called PlantJuice.

Bastounas adds, “Assessments of competing traditional wastewater treatment processes have shown RegenAqua to cost one quarter of the capital and one fifth of the operating expenses.”

Since the inception of the Burdekin Shire Council’s project in March 2021, the facility has exceeded all expectations, delivering positive results with nutrient pollutant reductions to below global best practice of 5mg/L Nitrogen and 1mg/L Phosphorus.


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