One of the Sunshine Coast’s first water treatment plants is still going strong, after producing more than 365 billion litres of water for the community over the past five decades.

The Image Flat Water Treatment Plant, located in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, recently celebrated a golden milestone: 50 years of operation.

The plant, which was officially opened in 1968, formed part of Maroochy Shire’s first reticulated town water scheme – until then individual householders were responsible for their own water supply through rainwater tanks.

Image Flat is the main treatment facility in the Maroochy River area. It draws water from Poona Dam, Wappa Dam or the South Maroochy River which is supplemented by water from Cooloolabin Dam,

Treated water from the Image Flat Water Treatment Plant supplies numerous suburbs, including Nambour, Yandina, Eumundi and coastal urban developments north of the Maroochy River.

After 50 years of operation, the plant has produced more than 365 billion of litres of water – and is still going strong. To acknowledge the role Image Flat has played in servicing the region – and to celebrate those who have worked at the plant – a small ceremony was recently held by Seqwater at the facility.

Retired Image Flat Plant Operator Martin Schultz, 91, with current Seqwater plant operators (l-r) Amy Norman, Evelyn Andrinopoulos and Casey Donnellan.

Among those to attend the event was 91-year-old Martin Schultz, who was the first Water Treatment Plant Operator to work at the Image Flat – a position he held for more than 20 years.

Before he took on the role as plant operator, Mr Schultz said he had worked as a construction labourer and was involved in building the Image Flat facility.

“Being back inside the plant again brings back a lot of memories – it sure doesn’t feel like 50 years since it was opened,” Mr Schultz said.

“There’s been a lot of technological advancement in water treatment since I worked here which was interesting to see.

“Machines and software systems have replaced a lot of the tasks that would previously have needed to be done by hand.”

Also in attendance was Nambour grandmother Muriel Harrison-Peters, whose late husband Jack Harrison worked as the first Water Officer for Maroochy Shire Council from 1957 to 1984.

Ms Harrison-Peters, 88, said she was among those in attendance when the Image Flat Water Treatment Plant was officially opened in 1968 by then Maroochy Shire Council Chairman David Low.

“I remember we all went on a tour of the plant when it was opened with council members and engineers, including Jack Mulholland who was crucial to the installation of numerous Sunshine Coast dams,” Mrs Harrison-Peters said.

“With his job, my husband would have to travel to different pump stations a few times a day to control the water supply to different tanks.

“Jack also became an unofficial park-keeper at Wappa Dam, and spent much of his spare time keeping the area clean, establishing gardens and picnic areas for people to enjoy.”

In 1984, after Mr Harrison’s retirement, Maroochy Shire councillors decided to name Wappa Dam Park as the Jack Harrison Park in recognition of the contribution made by him towards the development of the council’s water supply and maintenance.

Seqwater Acting Chief Executive Officer, Dan Spiller, said anniversaries were opportunities to look back and take stock of the past as well as plan for the future.

“It can be easy to take a safe, secure water supply for granted – but water is essential for all aspects of life, and we’re very proud of the role we play in a healthy and prosperous South East Queensland,” Mr Spiller said.

“The history of South East Queensland’s water supply is a fascinating and often dramatic story as engineers and planners work to adapt to a rapidly growing population in an ever-changing climate.

“These challenges continue as Seqwater plans for a sustainable water future that meets the needs of all South East Queenslanders.”