50 Years in business

50 Years - 50 Stories: The Golden Circle UASB

Geoff Parker manhole Golden Circle

The Golden Circle UASB (Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket) Project was hugely significant for Aquatec Maxcon way back in the 1980’s, being the first large Paques UASB plant ever built in Australia. The job proved to be quite a challenge for a number of reasons, one of them being the plant had to be designed and built within a very narrow window of 40 weeks with hefty penalties for lateness – conditions that were unheard of back then! The Aquatec Maxcon team was clearly not daunted by this prospect as the project was completed 17 days ahead of schedule. The benefits for Golden Circle following the new installations were immediate. The waste charges for the plant were slashed to 10%, paying for itself after three years of operation. 

Since the UASB was installed, Aquatec Maxcon have returned to the Golden Circle cannery several times to perform further work, proof that Australia’s first UASB installation was a resounding and enduring success, all thanks to the efforts of the remarkable Aquatec Maxcon team led by Project Manager, Geoff  Parker. Geoff retired in 2015 after 32 years with Aquatec Maxcon and still occasionally assists us when we need his expertise… He is currently assisting one of our Project Engineers (Nina Li) in our St Marys office. Maxcon Industries were responsible for the pipes and mechanics which were handled by their very best apprentice - a strapping young boilermaker named Evan Bentley. Evan began as an apprentice and is still with us 35 years later, now working as a Site Installation Manager.

This was the beginning of our partnership with Paques BV for the use of UASB treatment equipment, a process that is particularly effective on high-strength industrial waste. Aquatec Maxcon and Paques have enjoyed a long and productive relationship ever since, working closely together to deliver a range of innovative industrial treatment plants at XXXX, Smiths Crisp, Cadbury, CUB, and Visy. Paques BV are world leaders in granular technologies such as Anammox® technology, IC Reactors, UASB and Thiopaq, Phospax.

Golden Circle inspecting Civils WWTP

Above: Civil works inspection at Golden Circle circa 1989. Steve Christensen (Golden Circle), Ken Hartley (wearing coat) and Hulls' site foreman inspect the works. Photo from Geoff Parker's private collection.

Geoff Parker Golden Circle WWTP Sunday Afternoon

Above: Geoff Parker "manning the manhole" at Golden Circle cannery, circa 1989. Workplace Health & Safety rules and Personal Protection Equipment requirements have clearly come a very long way since this picture was taken. (During the 1980's, the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission was still in its infancy.) Photo from Geoff Parker's private collection.

50 Years - 50 Stories: John Blake

We began as Maxwell Contracting, a fabrication workshop started by Peter and John Maxwell at Tiger Street in West Ipswich in 1970. After the floods in 1973/4, we moved to our current location – where we have remained for the past 40+ years. A few years later, a Sydney-based company, Aquatec Engineering, the brainchild of Tom Lawson, merged with us to form Aquatec Maxcon. Decades later, MPA Engineering joined the fun and became part of the Aquatec Maxcon Group.

Coincidentally, this week we celebrated the 50th work anniversary of John Blake. "Blakey" began as a strapping young site tradesman and is still with us today as an Estimator and resident problem solver due to his wealth of knowledge gained from working for all the Councils, Water Authorities, Industrial Clients and Power Stations over the years. His stories range from using pay phones and reverse charge calls as a primary means of professional communication to newfangled fax-machines and brick mobile phones, a far cry from smart phones and virtual offices of today. A lot has changed in 50 years, and Blakey has seen us go from humble beginnings all the way through to the Company we are today.

Not many individuals work for the same Company for half a century! Congratulations to John for his loyalty and stamina!

Below: John Blake as a strapping young tradie on site (left) and as he appears around the office today (right) as our highly esteemed Estimator and General Problem Solver

Blakey - 50 years and 50 stories Aquatec Maxcon Group

Celebrating 50 Years with 50 Stories!

We have just celebrated our 50th Anniversary in business! The 22nd of June was the official anniversary of the big day, and we couldn't be more proud of this remarkable achievement. 

In order to commemorate the occasion, we will be launching a celebratory campaign called "50 Years - 50 Stories".

We will be sharing 50 stories from our staff (both past and present) about projects that we feel are interesting and have made us into the Company that we are today.

Aquatec Maxcon 50 Years in Business 50 Stories

Here's a sneak preview of some of the projects we are expecting to share include stories from the following plants / projects:

  • Cradle Mountain Membrane BioReactor Plant - Aquatec Maxcon provided the process design and all the mechanical works for a complete MBR Treatment Plant located in Cradle Mountain, Tasmania. The Cradle Mountain area is of great ecological significance as it is a Word Heritage Area and nitrogen and phosphate levels in the effluent had to be kept to an absolute minimum. 

  • Maroochy Digesters - Aquatec Maxcon was engaged to perform the upgrade to the sludge digester and sludge handling systems including the CO2 Stripper and Lime Conditioning System before dewatering using a centrifuge and solar dryer.  The modelling and replacement of most of the major components was completed with minimum downtime and zero injuries, a wonderful achievement!

  • CUB Samoa Wastewater Treatment Plant - Aquatec Maxcon designed, constructed and successfully commissioned a primary and secondary wastewater treatment plant for the local brewery owned by CUB and Coca Cola. The project was noteworthy because the plant was constructed in Samoa and the effluent was required to be high quality and suitable for discharge into the ocean. Much of the equipment was prefabricated in Australia and assembled locally in Samoa (under the supervision of Aquatec Maxcon) in order to ensure ease of transportation. The project was innovative as the high pH wastewater needed to be countered and made suitable for biological treatment. The plant won the Coca Cola "Best Environmental Achievement Pacific" Award, and has continued to be robust and exceed effluent quality by a significant margin.

  • Tooheys Wastewater Treatment Plant - Everyone loves beer! In August 2012, Aquatec Maxcon was awarded the contract to design and construct a 2ML per day wastewater treatment plant situated at the Tooheys Brewery in Lidcombe, New South Wales. The project was innovative in that it allowed Tooheys to treat brewery waste on site in order to meet Sydney Water trade waste standards, thus significantly reducing costs for our client.

  • XXXX Brewery, Wastewater Facility and Water Re-Use Facility - More beer stories! Aquatec Maxcon was awarded the contract to design and construct all of the process, mechanical and electrical elements of a 2.2 ML per day wastewater treatment facility and water re-use for the XXXX brewery located at Milton, Brisbane. The issues facing the construction of the plant included the fact that the project required an extremely short delivery time while being a complex design and construct located in a small, busy area with challenging site access. The result was a facility that boasted a dramatically reduced footprint at, at the time, was the most water efficient brewery in the world (requiring only 1.8L of water per litre of production!)

  • Smith's Wastewater Treatment Plant - From beer to chips... The Smith's Food Group contracted Aquated Maxcon to design and construct a 1.3ML per day wastewater reuse plant at their production site at Tingalpa, QLD.

  • Marian Water Treatment Plant - In February 2020, Marian WTP's water was voted the second best tasting water in the world! The townships of Marian and Mirani were supplied with drinking water sourced from groundwater bores. Mackay Regional Council conducted an investigation into the future water supply requirement for these towns which showed the existing combined groundwater allocation for these bores would not be able to meet the future demand projections and the quality of the aquifer was declining. An alternate drinking water supply from the Pioneer River at Marian Weir was investigated and the construction of a new WTP at Marian was deemed necessary in order to supply both towns.

  • Golden Circle Cannery UASB WWP, Northgate - The Golden Circle UASB (Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket) Project (completed in 1989) was hugely significant for Aquatec Maxcon as it was the first large Paques UASB plant built in Australia. Despite the pressures and threats of lateness penalties, the project was completed 17 days ahead of schedule, with immediate benefits for Golden Circle. Waste charges for the plant were slashed to 10% - the UASB paid for itself after only three years of operation!

  • Mt Cotton Inlet Works Upgrade - In December 2014 Aquatec Maxcon submitted a tender to Redland City Council for the design, fabrication and installation of a new inlet works for the Mt Cotton WWTP. Though the offer included the full scope of the inlet works, it also included two products that, at the time, did not exist beyond rough hand-sketched concept drawings. These products, now called the Aqua-Band Screen and Aqua-Max washpress, were offered alongside alternative well known proprietary bandscreen and washpress...


...And much more!

Expect some changes to the website as we add stories over the course of the next 6 months.

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