As the final stage of determining the best approach for a WWTP upgrade, a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) can reveal the full cost and ecological foot-print of an option but also can be extremely complex and require significant time and external contractor involvement. For the purposes of the initial Cleaner Wastewater investigation, a simplified methodology was developed, building on the analysis undertaken for the 'Options Matrix' and demonstrating the types of analysis that would be needed for a significant WWTP investment.
The methodology was tested on five short-listed 'trial sites' and summarised in an Investment Strategy to compare key operational, capital and environmental costs over the life of three options for each site. The parameters included within the assessment were selected to inform standard decisions about capacity to reduce harm to the GBR and costs for local communities.
This LCA assessed options against criteria in Technical, Economic, Social and Ecological categories based on the whole life of the asset. This process can shed light on the full cost to councils, community and the environment rather than focusing on only immediate capital costs.
Five Queensland sites were assessed comparing a selected 'trial' option, with the status quo (do nothing option), and a generic ‘high technology’ alternative (5-stage Bardenpho process with membrane bioreactor). These comparisons provide useful case study examples as to how a simplified LCA process can be applied as part of optioneering for WWTP upgrades. The sites assessed were summarised in an Investment Strategy that shows where further funding could provide benefits for the GBR, local communities but also create case studies relevant for other Reef Councils.