Fresh, running water is a precious commodity. It requires a great deal of energy to generate it for our Antarctic and sub-Antarctic stations.
Each station gets fresh water by different means.
Casey and Mawson pump water from a melt lake behind the station and store it in a heated tank house.
Davis draws water from a local tarn which is processed by a Reverse Osmosis System. This system produces about 70,000 L every 24 hours. The average station demand is around 10,000 L to 14,000 L a day. We store 1.4 million litres for use over winter.
Macquarie Island draws water from a dam located on the plateau. The dam is about 3 km from the station and is 200 m above sea level. The water is pumped into two holding tanks.
We use water saving appliances, but each person on station is also asked to use as little water as possible.
Electricity and heating
The stations have similar electrical systems to those we have in Australia. Electrical power is generated by diesel powered alternators housed in dedicated powerhouses. Each station has two power generation facilities: the main power house (MPH) and an emergency power house (EPH).
The ambient temperature inside the buildings is around 18 °C with a relative humidity of 32%.
The buildings are thermally efficient and are designed to get the most out of the fuel used. Heat from the engines is transferred to the site services heating hot water system and used to heat the station buildings. This is called co-generation.
Australian stations have a high level of sewage treatment. All stations use a minimum macerating sewer pump system.
Casey and Mawson stations currently have secondary treatment sewage system. This treats human waste and waste water using a rotating biological contactor. However, the treatment efficiency decreases as the station populations increase over summer.
Davis station has a secondary waste treatment plant. This plant consists of a membrane biological reactor (MBR) plant which, in addition to processing station waste water, is designed to be capable of taking all kitchen solid waste, eliminating the need to use incineration on station. This plant minimises the release of micro-organisms into the marine environment by returning sewage sludge to Australia. Casey station has a similar plant due to be brought online in winter 2021.
If you are out in the field, you are required to bring back all solid human waste. This is burnt in a high temperature incinerator, known as “Warren”.