State of Environment

Indicator 50 - Volume of wastewater discharged from Australian Antarctic Stations

Index: Description | Data | Custodian evaluation | Related resources | Parameters


Indicator Definition
This is an estimate of the volume of effluent discharged from the waste
treatment plants (WTP) at each of the three continental stations.
Measurements are continuous and are reported monthly, in the station plumbers'
reports to the Building Services Supervisor in Kingston.

Responsible organisation

organisation logo

Australian Antarctic Division


No custodians.

Theme area

Human Settlements

Indicator type


Criteria the indicator satisfies

The following 13 out of 15 criteria

1. Serve as a robust indicator of environmental change
2. Reflect a fundamental or highly-valued aspect of the environment or an important environmental issue
3. Be either national in scope or applicable to regional environmental issues of national significance
4. Provide an early warning of potential problems
5. Be capable of being monitored to provide statistically verifiable and reproducible data that shows trends over time and, preferably, apply to a broad range of environmental regions
6. Be scientifically credible
7. Be easy to understand
8. Be monitored with relative ease
9. Be cost-effective
10. Have relevance to policy and management needs
11. Contribute to monitoring of progress towards implementing commitments in nationally important environmental policies
13. Contribute to the fulfillment of reporting obligations under international agreements
14. Where possible and appropriate, use existing commercial and managerial indicators

For details of indicators, see the State of Environment Bibliography entries 16336 and 16337

Date input

Monthly measurements

Monitoring location

Geographic coverage

Rationale For Indicator Selection
This indicator gives an estimate of the volume of wastewater discharged into
the ocean as a result of human occupation, and hence of the potential to
contaminate the ocean. The potential impact on the environment is proportional
to the volume discharged. Estimates of microbial levels and organic matter
content of the effluent give more specific details.

Discharges from the waste treatment plants at the stations comprise virtually
all wastewater discharge into the ocean from the stations. Water flowing into
the sea along natural flow lines may contain some contaminants, for example as
a result of fuel spills. However, these are usually minimal, and any major
incidents will be accounted for in other reports. Reporting figures monthly
allow comparison of summer and winter usage, and therefore any effects of
typically high summer and low winter populations.

Effluent volumes are also an indicator of the volume of water harvested, as
there is a predictable relationship between water harvested and that
released. This information can be used (together with potable water volumes)
as a measure of the effectiveness of any station water conservation measures.
Water usage has implications for fuel usage, as fuel is used to melt water for
domestic use and to operate the WTPs.

Design and Strategy For Indicator Monitoring Program
Spatial scale: Australian Antarctic continental stations and Macquarie Island

Frequency: Monthly reports

Measurement technique: The rate of discharge of effluent is estimated from
measurements of flow rates through the effluent pump. Measurements, in
litres, are continuous, and recorded whenever the pump is working.

A flow meter has been installed at Casey and monitors the volume, in litres,
of effluent as it flows out the pipe.

Research Issues
The following would increase knowledge of the impacts of wastewater discharge:

Equipment which could monitor effluent release directly, rather than
estimating values from the flow rate in pumps would give more accurate

Chemical analysis of effluent eg for phosphate. This would indicate the
extent of enrichment as a result of wastewater discharge, and would allow
feedback to management on issues such as, the types of washing detergent
supplied at stations.

An analysis of the properties and proportion of various effluent water types
would provide useful feedback to station management on wastewater plant
efficiency and assist in determining outfall effects.


Temporal range of the available data, as described by the metadata record, is from 01-Sep-011 to 01-Oct-022.

September-2001 to November-2005
Number of data points

To view or download any of the data, you must be logged in

Data quality, interpretation and analysis of indicator data

Data usage constraints

' This data set conforms to the PICCCBY Attribution License ( Please follow instructions listed in the citation reference provided at when using these data. '

Data access constraints

' These data are publicly available for download from the provided URL. '

Custodian evaluation

22 May 2002

Treated effluent discharged into the ocean is currently only measured at Casey Station.

The measuring system encountered some technical problems between October 2001 and February 2002, therefore no meaningful evaluation can be made at this early stage.

14 Nov 2002

Pressure scale - 4 - moderate external pressure on the environment, degradation documented
1 - undetectable external pressure on the environment
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
7 - extreme external pressure on the environment, degradation accelerating
State of Knowledge scale - 4 - Fair
1 - Poor
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
7 - Excellent

For definitions of the Scale categories, consult the Explanation of the Status Categories

Related resources

Project 2202 - Modelling of wastewater discharge systems in the Antarctic
SOE Indicator 48 - Station and ship person days
SOE Indicator 51 - Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) of wastewater discharged from Australian Antarctic Stations
SOE Indicator 52 - Suspended solids (SS) content of wastewater discharged from Australian Antarctic Stations
SOE Indicator 61 - Total potable water consumption at Australian Antarctic Stations


The properties link can be used to view details of the parameters measured for this indicator.

Parameter Name Unit of measure Properties
Volume of discharge litres Properties

The following parameters and/or sensor notes are from the metadata record.



Related URLs
Citation reference for this metadata record and dataset
Download page for Australian Antarctic Data Centre