From the CEO
As the days lengthen and the weather begins to warm I sit down to ponder on the quarter that was and the quarter ahead. My contribution to Water Matters provides me with a terrific opportunity to reflect on just how much VicWater, with its small team of hard working staff, accomplishes for the Victorian water sector. VicWater have recently facilitated 18 working groups and steering committees that are very active and productive in delivering significant and tangible work on behalf of the industry. These groups have over 240 staff representatives from within Victorian water corporations. Without this level of support from our members it would be impossible for VicWater to deliver the suite of programs and services that we do each year.
I am pleased to announce that VicWater has a new Chair; Peter Vogel, Chair of GWMWater who has been appointed to the role of VicWater Chair for the remainder of the 2015/2016 financial year. I would like to congratulate and thank Peter for his willingness to serve in this important role. I also acknowledge and thank Doug Shirrefs, outgoing VicWater Chair for his strong leadership throughout his two years as Chair.
The industry procurement project being progressed through VicWater is moving forward strongly. I am excited to report that the joint procurement of water and waste water treatment chemicals has broadened and now includes 22 organisations and 70 different chemicals that are currently delivered to more than 200 sites. We are expecting to go to market in December 2015.
The nominations for the VicWater Emerging Leader Award closed recently and I am very impressed with the quality of nominations. Our winner will be provided with an opportunity to develop his or her leadership skills as part of a three month international work experience placement. The winner will be formally announced at the AWA Victorian Water Awards Luncheon on Thursday 3 December. It is a privilege to see the quality of the next generation of emerging leaders in the water industry and this gives me great confidence in our ability to continue to excel in the future.
A critical piece of work that the government are working on at the moment is the development of a Water Plan for the state. VicWater are coordinating a working group of industry and government representatives that are actively contributing to the shape of this Plan, discussing topics such as; drought and climate change, the water grid and management of extreme events. The Water Plan provides a unique opportunity to rethink the way in which water and wastewater services are managed in Victoria. We are expecting that the government will release a draft plan early in 2016 for further consultation.
Equally important is the review of the State Environmental Protection Policy (Waters of Victoria), otherwise known as SEPP WoV. The industry, through a VicWater working group, have submitted input into this review – click here to view.
In parallel with the above work, VicWater have been active in the independent review being conducted on the future state of EPA Victoria and the ESCs review of economic regulation.
November and early December is very active with a number of industry forums the VicWater coordinate scheduled. In the case of the Victorian water corporations Chairs, their first forum took place in November. This was the first chance for this group to meet, which is made up of more than 50% new Chairs, to meet since their appointment. This forum provides the Chairs with a regular way of exploring issues specifically related to them. VicWater is working with DELWP to coordinate and deliver a suite of 2 day director training programs in 2016.
I would like to welcome a new VicWater staff member; Lauren Vines, who joins our ranks as our Event Coordinator. Lauren will be assisting with the coordination and delivery of a number of VicWater events and will also be assisting IWA with their three Conferences and SIG days.
As you can see it has been and continues to be a very busy and productive time for both VicWater and the Victorian water industry. On behalf of the VicWater team I would like to close by saying that we look forward to continuing to work with the Victorian water corporations to ensure Victorians continue to enjoy world class water and wastewater services.
Best wishes from the Board and Staff of VicWater for a safe and merry Christmas.< PreviousNext >
VicWater Annual Conference
Never before has celebration been so much the emphasis for a VicWater Conference. With the Association’s 20th anniversary occurring in 2015 we felt it was a timely opportunity to provide individuals working in the sector with a chance to reflect, future gaze and share experiences with colleagues past and present. The Conference was themed; “20/20 Vision; Lessons from the past, ideas for the future”.
Aside from the strong two day program of presenters, VicWater included new aspects into the Conference format this year. These changes were very well received by our delegates and are likely to have created a new benchmark for what our Conference delegates can expect in the future. The changes to the Conference format included:
- A professional emcee at the main Conference dinner, Arron Wood. Arron runs the Kids Teaching Kids program and is a City of Melbourne Councillor. At the dinner we also included an insightful speaker by the name of Vinh Giang. Vinh uses magic as a metaphor to highlight then explain a number of business and behavioural concepts.
- A full day tour put together by South East Water. Attendees were taken to a number of sites relating to South East Water’s Peninsula ECO (Early Connection Option) project. This project is rolling out one of the largest pressure sewer constructions in Australian history. The tour also included a visit to the Mt Martha Treatment Plant where attendees viewed a number of innovative upgrades to the plant, including solar dryers and high temperature Anaerobic digesters. The day finished with a tour of the State Control Centre, where information was provided on how Emergency Management Victoria respond to emergency situations across the state.
At the main Conference dinner we were pleased to have The Hon Lisa Neville, Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water. Minister Neville provided delegates with information on the government’s priorities and objectives for the future. In addition Llew Vale, one of the longest serving directors within the Victorian water industry provided insights on his 25 years’ service to the sector. He spoke about his biggest achievements and how he has seen the sector and VicWater grow in that time. Llew Vale was then director on the Melbourne Water Board, previous Chair of Goulburn Murray Water and previously Chair of South Gippsland Water and VicWater.
Although strong feedback was received for all presenters, as is always the case, there must be a “most highly rated” presenter and this year there were two;
- Our 2015 VicWater Leadership Development Award winner, Nathan Epp who worked with Scottish Water Horizons and visited Abu Dhabi from May to September this year; and
- Graham Hawke from the Bureau of Meteorology who spoke about Victoria’s changing climate and rainfall conditions, providing insights and questions into how these changing conditions might influence governance decisions for the sector.
The remainder of the program was strongly represented with water sector presentations, presentations from the government and a number of other stakeholder and consultant presentations:
- Mark Tracey from Treasury Corporation Victoria provided an economic update. Including information relevant to local markets as well as broader information likely to impact on the Australian economy, such as international activities and government priorities and initiatives.
- Linda McGregor, the owner of a consultancy dedicated to understanding women’s purchasing decisions, All About Eve shared insights on gender equality. Linda spoke about unconscious gender biases that exist in us and in the broader community that impact the workplace.
- Piers Clark, Chairman of Isle Utilities provided an entertaining presentation that focussed on our power to personally bring about change in our personal lives, our professional lives and in the community we are part of. Highlighting that this power is lost if we don’t take the time to question what we are doing and why we are doing it along the way.
- John Thwaites spoke about his experience as Victoria’s Water Minister during the millennium drought. He outlined lessons learned from that experience that might assist in influencing decisions in the future to meet water challenges and explore water opportunities.
- Andrew Marty from SACS provided an enlightening session around psychometrics, a field of study that seeks to better match a candidate to a role through testing or measuring individual mental capabilities and behaviour styles. Before the event delegates were invited to complete a questionnaire, with the answers being used to generate a personal values profile which was shared with the individuals. During the session delegates were asked to discuss and plot the importance of various values for two different roles, resulting in interesting discussion among the delegates.
- Stuart Squires from Yarra Valley Water presented on an innovative new web based platform that has been introduced under the banner of their easyACCESS service. Customers can apply online for a number of different YVW services. Stuart’s presentation focussed on the strength of the underpinning business rules engine in the success of the easyACCESS service. The platform has resulted in faster application response times and reduced the need for staff to follow up with customers.
- Andrew Jeffers from Wannon Water and Suzy Goldsmith from Marchment Hill presented information on a benchmarking project undertaken to assess the best option for the management of Wannon Water’s maintenance activities. The results of the assessment strongly indicated that the most efficient and effective approach was to keep maintenance activities in-house and adopt a number of improvements that became apparent through the benchmarking process. These results were somewhat surprising given the increasing popularity for out-sourcing corporate functions.
- Vivien Twyford and Wendy Boyce, independent consultants who worked on a water quality project in New Zealand’s Waikato River region. This presentation outlined the collaborative and consultative approach that was pursued which has delivered a successful outcome for the many and varied key stakeholders and their many and varied needs.
- Sue O’Connor, an accomplished artist and then director on Goulburn Valley Water’s board presented on an innovative community engagement project undertaken with East Gippsland Water. The project; #SoNotCrap used art to promote conversations about wastewater and the environment. Seeking to improve the appreciation and understanding of the value that wastewater treatment can bring to the local community, not only in delivering an alternative water source but in delivering improved environmental outcomes.
- Adam Fennessy, Secretary at DELWP opened the Conference and provided delegates with information on the government’s priorities and objectives for the future. He also spoke about the Male Champions of Change program. Adam is one of 19 appointees that have pledged to work towards greater gender equality within their organisations, workplaces and communities.
- Tim Ryan from Oakley Greenwood presented a number of lessons and points for the Victorian water sector’s consideration from the recent implementation of a light-handed regulatory framework into south east Queensland’s water industry.
- Jane Brockington, Deputy Chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee conducting the Independent Inquiry into the EPA provided delegates with the scope and major timelines for the inquiry. Also outlining the engagement process and feedback points that are being sought from the sector.
Aside from the new thinking provided at the Conference, the other enormous benefit of this annual event is as always, the networking. Bringing together individuals from the top levels of all Victorian water corporations, key stakeholders, government departments and water industry supporters. This is often the one event on the calendar that allows for this level of networking.
Finally we would like to thank the generous support of our sponsors and all those from the industry who provided their support by attending. Without the ongoing support from our sponsors it would not be possible to deliver this event at the level that we do each year and without the continued support from the industry in attending, of course there would be no event!
|Dinner & Technology Sponsor||Lunch Sponsor|
The 2nd Annual VicWater Dams Seminar was held at the Metropole Hotel in Fitzroy on 23 and 24 September 2015. The event was sponsored by DELWP and organised by VicWater and the VicWater Dams Steering Group chaired by Mark Arnold of Melbourne Water.
There were over 50 attendees on both days with a very full program which included a Keynote Address by Michael Illot of Allens Lawyers whom is a defence lawyer for the Dams Engineers who operated Wivenhoe Dam during the flood event in Brisbane in 2011. Sessions were included on Instrumentation/Innovation, Decommissioning of Dams, Operations/Maintenance/OH&S and Emergency Management.
The event concluded with a visit to the State Emergency Centre.
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The VicWater OH&S Steering Group, chaired by Judd Boeker of East Gippsland Water, hosted a one day Seminar on 13 October. The event was sponsored by Gallagher Bassett who provided venue and catering. There was a good attendance of about 20 participants.
The focus of the Seminar was safety around works near gas infrastructure and included presentations from WorkSafe and the APA Group which is a natural gas infrastructure operator.
Case Studies were also presented by City West Water and South East Water which gave examples of incidents involving gas infrastructure.
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Learning and Development Network Seminar
The newly-formed Learning and Development Network had its inaugural Seminar on 28 and 29 October 2015 at the Metropole Hotel in Fitzroy. The event was funded by the Victorian Department of Education as part of its interim funding arrangement for Victorian Industry Training Advisory Bodies.
The Network is convened by Robyn Clarke of Central Highlands Water and Robyn performed the role of MC for the event which was attended by most VicWater member organisations.
The Seminar was formally opened by Jeff Rigby, who wears a number of high profile hats within the water industry. Jeff provided the opening and welcome address to the Network as Chair VicWater Training Advisory Committee and member of the national Water industry Advisory Committee (WIAC).
Jeff shared his passion and insights of training and the water industry both from a national perspective and state perspective. Jeff spoke about the reality of our sector and the sector’s challenges re our skills shortage / talent acquisition and retention in engineering, project management, procurement, construction and front-line skill sets.
Jeff’s opening address was then followed by sharing and profiling of great work across the network in world café style. Christina Bassani, Convenor of the IWA HR SIG facilitated this session in which Network members acknowledged the great work and shared their learnings with each other and as a network identified several areas of brilliance.
The network workshopped and agreed to three projects to be undertaken over the period to end of 2015/2016. These Projects are:
- Leadership and Management Capability and Development
- Strengthening Collaboration across the Network
- Strategic Procurement of Safety Training
National Water Week - 18 to 24 October 2015
As part of this year’s National Water Week celebrations, fifteen of the nineteen Victorian water corporations have again run the Victorian primary school poster competition, receiving an impressive number of poster submissions from kids across the state. The remaining water corporations ran other, or in some cases, many other activities and events throughout the week and in the lead up to National Water Week.
The Victorian primary school poster competition, along with the other activities run by water corporations throughout National Water Week allow Education Officers to engage with their local communities, opening two-way conversations, providing information on services offered or even broader water concepts such as the Water Cycle. This type of engagement is just one of the many forms of engagement water corporations use to stay connected to their customers and their local communities. The poster competition offers children the opportunity to explore the concept of what water means to them and their local community and to communicate their thoughts in a creative way.
The poster competition offers both regional and state prizes in four categories; Prep, Grade 1 & 2, Grade 3 & 4 and Grade 5 & 6. The competition is an excellent way for water educators to see what messages are getting across to the young people in Victoria.
Water businesses promote and coordinate the competition to schools within their area, judge regional winners, organise prizes and presentations, often with local media exposure. Judging is then done on the regional winners with a first and second place recipient being awarded a state level prize pack.
The state first place recipients received prize packs to the value of $575 and the second place recipients received prize packs to the value of $315. These prize packs included a charming customised jigsaw puzzle created from their poster image. These puzzles were provided by Jigsaw Puzzles Australia, a small family run business in Victoria that sponsored the competition this year.
The continued success of the poster competition in many ways is attributed to the efforts of the dedicated Education Officers within the Victorian water businesses. The education of Victorian students on water related issues continues to have an important place in providing long term behavioural and attitudinal changes within the community.
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I am the Managing Director of Westernport Water (WPW).
I am now in my 3rd month at WPW, and am really enjoying the job, organisation, sector and community. I consider myself a dual resident of San Remo and Yinnar (Google it!), where most of my family resides.
I travel overseas every day for work and marvel at the view across Westernport Bay and Bass Straight, it is different, and stunning – every time. I have noticed as the weather gets warmer how many family and friends want to come visit San Remo, which is a stunning part of Australia.
I have a number off non-work interests that have focussed on community based sporting and recreation pursuits, but as the youngest of 6 kids, the sporting talent pool was pretty depleted when it got to me, so my contribution has been mainly off field.
I am a Collingwood supporter, which has assisting developing a high level of resilience, persistence and hope…. for next year.
I have over 25 years’ experience in public & private sector management and leadership across the social services, health and utility sectors. My professional career followed a start in life as an electrician with the SECV, a pretty solid grounding in life and work.
Water industry experience – how long you have worked in the industry and any previous experience in the industry?
Around 9 years ago I worked at Gippsland Water in the corporate area, moving to local government and now back into water following 2 years as CEO of Gippsland Medicare Local.
From your perspective what is the top issue affecting you in your current role; and/or your business; and/or the water industry at the moment?
I’m really looking to further build on the impressive leadership and culture program that has been undertaken at Westernport Water so far, we need to be the employer of choice in Bass Coast, and will be.
The obvious issues and challenges:
- A new Water Plan for Victoria – what does that mean for our customers and community.
- Preparing for the next Pricing Submission.
- The increasing cost and burden of regulation, I am surprised to see the growth and complexity of regulation after 9 years out of the sector.
People who work in the water sector are just so passionate about what they do, and take the responsibility delivering essential services seamlessly to the community very seriously – its great to be back!
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Lauren Vines - New VicWater Employee
I have been employed as the Event Coordinator at VicWater.
I live in the bayside suburbs of Melbourne with my husband and one year old daughter. We have just sold our house in Mordialloc and are looking to buy in the same area. In my spare time I enjoy cooking, walking, playing the piano and catching up with friends and family.
Water industry experience – how long you have worked in the industry and any previous experience in the industry?
New to the water industry! My background is in events. I previously worked at NGV, (National Gallery Victoria) running a variety of events from conferences & cocktail parties to dinners and weddings. Prior to NGV, I worked at VACC, (Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce) and looked after their calendar of events.
Whilst I’ve only just started with VicWater in November 2015, I have really enjoyed meeting the team and I very much look forward to working within the water industry and running the VicWater and IWA Conferences going forward.
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Reflection on 20 Years of VicWater by Gordon McKern
Gordon McKern OAM was VicWater’s inaugural Chair and served from December 1995 until March 1997. Gordon is a successful businessman and has had a broad reaching and community-focussed career in and outside the water industry. In 2009 he was honoured with an Order of Australia award for his service to regional Victoria through a range of water industry, education and cultural organisations. He was the Chairman of Coliban Water for an impressive 14 years and continues to give service to his community through his role as Chairman of the Bendigo Art Gallery.
Gordon McKern’s reflection of how VicWater came to be.
“During the early days of the Kennett State Government, a decision was made to consolidate the water and sewer Authorities across the State, by forming larger, regional organisations. Although I had no background in the industry, I was asked to be the inaugural Chairman on the newly formed Coliban Region Water Authority, as a result of which I took office on 1st January 1994. Coliban Water was an amalgamation of more than 50 smaller Authorities and Water Boards, covering a region from Woodend to the Murray River, and from Heathcote to the Avoca River.
This pattern was repeated around the State , resulting in the formation of an initial 18 non-metropolitan urban water authorities.
It wasn`t very long before the Chairs and CEO`s started meeting, at first informally, to discuss matters of common interest. The Victorian Water Industry Association was formed in late 1995, with a membership of 25 water authorities and retail businesses across the State, and I was honoured to be elected as its first Chairman. Our initial charter was to create an organization which could genuinely claim to be a peak body worthy of representing the entire Victorian water industry.
It is worth noting that the Association – VWIA – received strong support from the Victorian Government, in particular from the then Minister for Water, the Hon Geoff Coleman. Whilst continuing to negotiate with each separate Authority for their own particular challenges, Geoff made it clear that there were significant advantages by being able to meet with the Executive of VWIA to implement the Government`s reform programmes.
Nobody can deny that the changes that were introduced by the Kennett Government in those years, which were driven by the individual Authorities and the VWIA, have resulted in significant improvements to the living standards of most citizens of the State, in particular those living in smaller cities and towns. The ability to access funds for projects, and to engage the services of skilled operators, was something that the former smaller organizations simply could not do.
It is pleasing that the Victorian Water Industry Association has not only reached its first 20 year anniversary, it has gone from strength to strength, and is an integral and vital factor in the quality of water supply and sewerage services that we all enjoy today.”
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Victorian Water Industry Bands Together for Savings
Greater collaboration across the Victorian Water Industry has led to broader insurance cover and substantial savings for 19 Victorian water organisations.
The joint insurance procurement initiative has saved the industry an estimated $6.9 million in insurance costs, while improving the quality of policy coverage.
Led by a Steering Committee made up of Risk Managers across the water corporations, including Yarra Valley Water, Melbourne Water, South East Water, Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water, Western Water and East Gippsland Water, the initiative is an example of how working together can equate to substantial savings across the total industry.
The three year agreement with Insurance Broker Jardine Lloyd Thompson Pty Ltd (JLT) was secured through a conceptual tender process, requiring the 19 water organisations to develop a comprehensive underwriting submission for a selected group of Insurance Broking firms.
The group developed best practice policy wordings, attended presentations and liaised with industry experts on the most effective strategies for marketing as a group the 19 individual insurance programs as a combined premium pool.
Yarra Valley Water’s Safety & Risk Manager and Steering Committee Chairman, Frank Portelli, believes this industry collaboration was a first for the water sector and meant the savings achieved would ultimately help benefit customers.
“We’ve seen water organisations work together in the past on joint procurement projects, however this is the first time the whole Industry has come together to really benefit,” Mr Portelli said.
“The saving far exceeded our initial expectations and is a great example of not only industry collaboration but also leveraging off market conditions.”
“This approach made us really look for innovative ideas and in this case we were able to secure the best outcome for both business efficiency and cost,” he added.
Damian Schinck, Managing Director, JLT Corporate Specialty, said: “Offering an Industry wide approach created the unique opportunity to design an insurance program through analysis of the risk profiles and existing coverages of each individual corporation.”
“The end result was a uniform ‘industry best practice’ program, created in a highly cost effective and administratively efficient manner,” Mr Schinck said.
“The role of the Steering Committee was extremely important in the success of the delivery of the program. The Committee greatly assisted in analysing issues and options then facilitating speedy decision making by all 19 corporations at critical times during complex and time constrained phases of the process,” he added.
Industry expert firm Inscon Pty Ltd was also engaged to assist in the administration of the tender, to bring industry insights and market knowledge to the table.< PreviousNext >
New Anglesea Outfall
Barwon Water successfully replaced its recycled water outfall pipeline at Anglesea on Sunday, 8 November, in a major land and ocean operation spanning 16 hours.
The existing outfall – a 30-metre deep drop structure to transfer Class B recycled water from the plant to the base of the cliffs and a 185-metre outfall pipe to discharge flows out to the ocean – was constructed in 1995.
Since then, cliff erosion has exposed the section of the outfall that runs through the base of the cliff leaving it susceptible to damage.
In July this year, a section of cliff collapsed, cracking the pipe and resulting in Class B recycled water spilling onto the beach.
The instability of the cliff and risk of further collapse meant it was too dangerous to carry out repairs.
Barwon Water had been monitoring the pipeline and plans for its replacement had been approved by the Board. Preliminary work was underway when the collapse occurred. The project was then fast-tracked to ensure the critical infrastructure was completed before the busy summer period.
A dedicated project team comprising Barwon Water engineering, construction, safety, quality and environment and communications and stakeholder engagement staff was established and Dunstans Construction Group engaged.
After months of planning, a drill rig was set up in early October to bore the new outfall.
While the drill bored from the water reclamation plant, under the base of the cliff and ocean floor to emerge 500 metres off the coast, a separate operation was underway in Melba Parade, Anglesea.
Twelve-metre lengths of 350-millimetre diameter polyethylene pipe were laid out and welded together to form the new 700-metre outfall pipeline.
On Sunday, 8 November, the pipeline was moved on rollers along Melba Parade and across the beach at Point Roadknight where it was attached to a boat and towed across the ocean.
Once at the outfall end point, the pipe was connected to the drill head and lowered 10 metres below the surface before being pulled back through the bore to the water reclamation plant.
Barwon Water General Manager Infrastructure Services Paul Northey said the challenging project had gone smoothly.
“The project required a significant amount of onshore and offshore work as well as monitoring of tides, ocean conditions and a partial beach closure to allow the pipe to be safely moved onto the water,” Mr Northey said.
“As far as projects go, it was not your run-of-the-mill pipeline job. It was the first time in Barwon Water’s history that an outfall had to be replaced and was quite spectacular to see,” he said.
He said the new pipeline alignment would eliminate the problem of erosion exposing the outfall in future.
Connections to existing infrastructure at the water reclamation plant and underwater work on the outfall diffuser will be completed prior to Christmas.< PreviousNext >
Two Exciting Projects Launched
The following comments were provided by Mr Pat McCafferty, Managing Director, Yarra Valley Water
The Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water Lisa Neville recently joined Labor Member for Thomastown, Bronwyn Halfpenny to announce the start of construction of two landmark projects in Melbourne’s northern suburbs – the Amaroo Main Sewer and our Waste to Energy facility project, which will be built at the Aurora Sewage Treatment Plant site. Both of the projects will support the growing communities in Melbourne’s north” said Mr McCafferty.
“The Amaroo Main Sewer is a vital investment that will provide the backbone to the sewerage system in the northern growth corridor.
While the purpose built Waste to Energy facility will provide an environmentally sustainable solution for commercial organic wastes, generating enough renewable energy to run the existing sewage and recycled water treatment plants next door, as well as other YVW facilities.
“This ambitious project to construct a Waste to Energy facility honours our commitment to working in harmony with the environment. Similar facilities have been successfully implemented in Europe and the USA, but extensive research was needed to determine whether it would work in the Australian market.
“The entire Australian water sector will be watching with a keen interest in what’s happening in Victoria, with a view to replicating what we are doing, so it is very much a project of national significance, and one more step towards a more sustainable, environmentally savvy, Australian water industry” Mr McCafferty added.
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Sewer Rat Improving Efficiency at Western Water
A rat in the sewer wouldn’t normally be considered a good thing, but the latest technology being adopted by Western Water is a different story.
The SL-RAT is a portable assessment tool for quickly detecting blockages in gravity sewers. It can inspect up to 3,000m of pipe per day, and provide a blockage assessment on site in as little as three minutes.
“The SL-RAT (short for sewer line rapid assessment tool) works by transmitting acoustic waves down the sewer main – it’s a bit like someone yelling down the pipe,” Western Water’s General Manager, Customer and Community Relations, Graham Holt, says.
A receiver picks up the acoustics using a microphone and a signal processor assesses the results to determine whether the line is clear or needs cleaning.
“A trial we conducted on a 4,000m length of sewer main showed only 800m of the main required cleaning, allowing us to defer cleaning of the remaining 3,200m,” Mr Holt says.
Western Water will now incorporate this technology into business as usual, using the SL-RAT to assess sewer mains prior to planned maintenance programs being rolled out.
“This technology will make our routine maintenance of sewer mains much more efficient, as we can limit the work to sewers we know need cleaning,” Mr Holt says.
Western Water estimates the technology will save up to $50,000 a year.
Anyone who would like to find out more about the project can contact Western Water’s Manager, Field Services and Operations, Dean Barnett on 9218 5497.< PreviousNext >
Biosolids Repairing Saline Soils
Domestic sewage brings together the farming industry, RMIT University and the water industry to find an innovative way to put Phillip Island’s waste to good use.
Westernport Water’s partnership with Bimbadeen Farm, Transpacific Industries and RMIT is to determine how effectively biosolids can repair salt affected soils.
The organic matter from sewage treatment process, commonly known as biosolids, has properties beneficial to agriculture and horticulture. For farmers biosolids is a very attractive organic alternative to expensive fertilisers.
As part of this partnership, Peter Matthews, an RMIT Honours student is investigating the effect of biosolids on salt affected land on Phillip Island. Associate Professor Barry Meehan of RMIT said: “Peter’s study will assess pasture growth, productivity, plant species and soil condition. The research and academic rigour is very important and has broader implications for soil remediation across Victoria and Australian coastal regions.”
This ongoing research and assessment partnership with RMIT is providing greater understanding of the potential for biosolids to remediate saline soils while supporting carbon farming.
RMIT honours student Peter Matthews said “It’s a very exciting project to be a part of! Using a local waste product to solve a local problem makes perfect sense.”
Westernport Water’s Managing Director, Peter Quigley said “a change in community attitudes has opened the door to exploring new ways to efficiently and effectively use waste products. Traditionally the nutrient rich biosolids are stockpiled and destined for landfill; however, nowadays people have a greater understanding and acceptance of biosolids, which has led to a wider range of uses for this resource.”
Well-known Phillip Island Farmer, Bob Davie, began trialling biosolids on an unstocked portion of Bimbadeen farm in 2013 in an attempt to rejuvenate salt affected paddocks and increase productivity. Bob is very pleased with the initial trials, experiencing better crop yields, improvements in soil quality and unprecedented growth rates. “We’re now able to grow crops on previously saline soils,” said Mr Davie.
“It’s hard to believe biosolids haven’t been trialled for reversing saline impact on soil in Gippsland before. With the amount of nutrients it contains, it’s such a valuable resource. The good thing about the Phillip Island biosolids is that it doesn’t contain significant heavy metals because there’s not much industry here,” said Mr Davie.
Westernport Water is delighted to find a solution to the challenge of disposing of biosolids that also benefits local farmers. “Instead of thinking about it as waste requiring disposal, we’re now looking at it as a resource that can add value to our farming community and at the same time help us reduce our impact on the environment,” said Peter Quigley.
The current trials are being managed through a Regional Environment Improvement Plan, approved by the Environmental Protection Authority in accordance with strict guidelines, to ensure the biosolids don’t adversely impact the local environment. Findings will be made available on completion of the study later in 2016.
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Biosolids Management Cost Plug and Play Toolkit
What is the rational for developing this toolkit?
Biosolids production is unavoidable unfortunately. Australia produces approximately 300,000 dry tonnes of biosolids annually – Victoria alone produces around 93,000 dry tonnes annually (AWA Position Paper, July 2012). Costs associated with biosolids management can be separated into two main categories – (i) treatment costs (to produce biosolids), and (ii) beneficial use costs (to use biosolids). Treatment costs can be further broken down broadly into (i) dewatering, (ii) stabilisation, and (iii) storage costs. The most common end use of biosolids in Australia is application to agricultural land, followed by landscaping and soil amendment after biosolids are composted. Costs associated with beneficial use in agriculture can be broken down into (i) transport, (ii) spreading and incorporation, (iii) storage, and (iv) sampling and monitoring.
Recently, Darvodelsky (2012) reported (see tables below) the treatment and beneficial use costs of Australian biosolids based on an industry survey conducted in 2010.
Based on this data, Darvodelsky (2012) noted that the average cost of treatment and beneficial use in Australia is around $700 and $300 per tonne of dry biosolids, respectively. The actual costs of biosolids management across water businesses, however, will depend on the type of sewage treatment process and the type of the end use. Tracking biosolids management costs helps to identify areas of improving efficiencies and maximum cost savings. Presently there is no tool available to undertake full cost analysis of managing biosolids across water businesses in Victoria.
Who developed the toolkit?
The Biosolids Steering Committee (BSC) under the auspices of Vic Water undertook a project to develop a tool to determine the full costs of biosolids management programs. Aravind Surapaneni from South East Water led this project with expert guidance from Jason McGregor (Central Highlands Water) and Doug Gardner (recently retired from Wannon Water). Two RMIT students developed the toolkit – Anne Truong (Environmental Engineering practical placement student) initially and then followed by and Michael Uhlhorn (Chemical Engineering summer vacation student). Michael did the hard yard.
What the toolkit does?
- Provides a flexible template for undertaking biosolids cost analysis
- Allows biosolids process flow steps to be chosen based on specific treatment plants
- Enables to input both direct and indirect costs associated with each process step
- Enables to input various assessment considerations and calculates costs against these considerations based on the total biosolids management cost
- Displays graphs related to biosolids managements costs breakdown
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Vision Super - Super Is For The Long Term
Vision Super focuses on the long-term when it comes to managing members’ super.
Recently share markets locally and overseas have experienced falls (especially the Tuesday 29 September’s fall of almost $60 billion or 4% by value in the Australian Share market). This has been an understandable cause for concern and anxiety for super members.
Vision Super CEO Stephen Rowe is urging calm.
“Significant daily movements on share markets are not uncommon. Daily changes of at least 3% have occurred 15 times since the Global Financial Crisis in 2009.”
“While markets move up and down on a daily basis and volatility in some periods is greater than others, superannuation investment is always about the longer-term.”
Vision Super employs a long-term investment approach, well diversified across a broad range of asset classes and options and doesn’t place all their eggs in the one basket.
In total, Vision Super has 22% of funds invested in local shares, 23% in global shares, 22% in unlisted assets (9% in infrastructure and 7% in unlisted property, 6% in unlisted equities), 5% in absolute return style assets, 13% in Australian and international bonds and the remainder in cash.
Vision Super fund members should be assured that their super savings are invested in well diversified portfolios that are directed at maximising long-term returns.
Historically, other retail and especially SMSF funds hold less diversified investment allocations. In the current circumstances, these allocations may lead to poorer performance over the short, medium and longer term.
A key reason Vision Super can outperform its retail competitors is that it owns and develops essential infrastructure and other unlisted assets, consistent with a diversified, patient and long-term approach to allocating capital.
For those close to retirement or those who have particular concerns, please contact the Vision Super Member Services team who will be very happy to assist on 9911 3222, or 1300 300 820 if you’re calling from a regional area.< PreviousNext >
TechnologyOne Strengthens Enterprise Solution for Water
With the recent acquisitions of Jeff Roorda and Associates (JRA) and Digital Mapping Solutions (DMS), TechnologyOne is continuously deepening and broadening our enterprise solutions for the Victorian water sector.
These new additions deliver specialist expertise and capability in the areas of strategic asset management and enterprise spatial management, respectively.
TechnologyOne Strategic Asset Management provides long-term planning, risk management and performance optimisation solutions to help you optimise your asset investment decisions.
TechnologyOne Spatial enables any geographic information to be easily visualised and analysed, providing spatial context to many areas of your organisation including customer service, physical infrastructure and operational work management.
TechnologyOne has a strategic vision and roadmap for incorporating these new technologies into our powerful, deeply integrated enterprise solution for water authorities, OneWater.
Find out more about these acquisitions on our website:
Contact the TechnologyOne Melbourne office on (03) 9526 4300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss further.< PreviousNext >
TenderLink - Shining a Light on the Procurement Path with Digital Footprints
By Rob Cook, Marketing Manager, TenderLink
I’d hate to count the number of times I’ve heard that procurement staff are the self-appointed bureaucrats of business; policers of policies that do nothing but restrict the efficient flow of goods and services. But in our experience, a clear and fundamental driver for the vast majority of those in the procurement profession is to ensure that, all things considered, money is spent prudently and to best effect. They understand why procurement purchasing guidelines exist: namely, to enable transparency and ensure value for money. While spend threshold levels and related purchase methods vary between organisations, in the end it’s hard to argue with guidelines that aim to keep everything above board, particularly in situations involving the public purse.
Sadly, despite this, it remains far too common an occurrence that these guidelines can be avoided, either inadvertently or otherwise.
In a performance audit released in 2015 by then-Auditor General, Ian McPhee, the related report stated that “proper approval of expenditure is necessary to ensure that the spending of public money is efficient, effective, economical and ethical, and in accordance with government policy”. Although the report focused on limited tendering, many of the findings made it clear that despite the existence of safeguards and regulations, undesirable procurement outcomes are still all-too-common. In particular, the report found that proof of approval being acquired prior to entering into an arrangement with a supplier was only found in 74 per cent of procurements reviewed, while suitable justification for adopting a limited tender was provided in about two-thirds of cases.
Proof and justification – two words that in the procurement game can be ultimately subjective, but needn’t be.
It’s a fact that in the day-to-day rush of a procurement role, there is a lot of potential for error, or in the worst case, avoidance. A potentially winning submission might have been lost in the mail, an important call might not be noted in the log, and useful addenda may not have been mailed to all interested parties.
Those working in the procurement profession are fully aware of just how many process boxes need to be ticked along the way. In a busy role, it’s simply human nature to tick as many of them as quickly as possible; or in limited cases, find ways to avoid them altogether.
But every box that requires ticking presents an opportunity for a process error. When reliant on manual procurement methods, there’s no guarantee we’ll find the error before it’s too late, and even if we do, there’s a good chance we’ll never find out who or what caused it. Proof and justification require a certain degree of objectivity and for that to happen, a forensic trail needs to lead back to the source.
Yet a manual procurement process makes pinpointing error difficult. For example, it’s hard to prove someone didn’t record a call in a log, and can we ever be certain that an addenda wasn’t simply lost in the mail?
The problem is that, despite our best efforts and intentions, whenever humans are involved, human error inevitably follows. Human error doesn’t discriminate; eventually, it’s going to rear its head.
Technology is different. It’s objective. It can’t cut corners, nor does it feel the stress of a deadline or the pressure to perform. And it certainly isn’t tempted by financial incentive. In procurement, technology can manage the mundane minutiae, guiding people through the digital equivalents of once-manual processes which are now much harder to circumvent.
During each stage of the procurement process, digital procurement tools leave an audit trail that is easily retrievable and equally impossible to modify. To take one common example, the “late submission” scenario is easily audited given that electronic submissions are confirmed with a time-stamped receipt. Case closed, with no endless discussions and finger pointing. But if you want to accept late submissions, issue a forum notice and reset the close date on your electronic tender box. And this will be recorded too.
Digital procurement solutions protect the procuring party, while also reassuring prospective suppliers that they won’t be left out in the cold while possible backroom deals are negotiated. Digital procurement ensures everything is tracked, noted and stamped. It helps keep procurement honest, and rightly so, because a lot is at stake.
The only way to ensure full transparency is to ensure that the light is shining brightly on every stage of the procurement path, and technology offers the only solution to get visibility over the procurement process, even in its darkest corners.< PreviousNext >
Veolia - The call for efficiency in the water business
Ways and means to deliver
Making sustainable changes that deliver more for less is a challenging task. Substantial, sustainable change primarily focused on improving efficiencies requires a willingness to change the very nature of an organisation: what it does, how it gets done and even who does it. Taking on such changes requires courage, conviction and long-term commitment. It takes learning and exploration, and it involves an element of risk. If change is successfully adapted however, the wins could be huge for the organisation and for its customers who will reap the benefits of receiving an improved and better value for money service.
In the wake of the global financial crisis and the end of the Australian water industry’s investment peak necessitated by the millennium drought, the expectations of customers, regulators and political leaders are increasingly focused on improvements in efficiency. Calls are regularly heard for reductions in water bills and, at the same time, for increased levels of service in terms of enhancing the liveability, sustainability and resilience of our urban centres.
Similar pressures exist around the globe, but depending upon the local circumstances, the response taken can vary substantially. Ultimately, there are two attitudes of response that organisations and institutions can take:
- defence of the status quo and doing enough to satisfy criticism; or
- leadership and commitment to develop new ways to deliver fully on these demands.
Taking the high road is a difficult task, as journeys that require change always are. However, there are three key elements necessary for success:
- Identification and acceptance of the opportunity to do better;
- Leadership and organisational behaviour; and
- Opportunities for cooperation outside the utility.
Want to know more, read the full article on Veolia’s blog page
Rod Naylor, Executive General Manager Growth, Veolia Australia New Zealand, Sydney and Veolia Innovation and Markets Department, Paris
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Skilltech Smartpipe trial delivers practical results
A major issue for water authorities and councils is unaccounted for water. In response to this, Skilltech developed the Skilltech Smartpipe™.
The Skilltech Smartpipe™ works much like a current standpipe but through data logging and Global Positioning System (GPS) locating technology enhances its capabilities. The systems are activated immediately when water is detected passing through the meter. When the data logger detects a signal a GPS location is recorded and transmitted to a convenient customer web portal providing the details of the company, date, time, location and total volume of water per event. A comprehensive range of alarms can be set to alert the utility elements such as high flows, no flow and geofencing have been breached.
Trial objectives and delivery
To assess this new technology, Skilltech carried out a five month trial. The trial looked at the GPS and Global Management System (GMS) technology working in tandem to deliver the correct data back to the customer portal.
For Skilltech, it was important to determine how the Smartpipe™ operates in the field and how it can effectively handle the rigors of daily use by contractors such as water carters.
In June, Skilltech and a major water utility identified a key number of water carters who would be issued with a Skilltech Smartpipe™ to start the field trial.
“Trialling this ground-breaking product in real life situations allows us to gauge critical field success with real-time data delivery,” said UASG CEO Stephen Ellich.
“Seeing how it is being used in the field and how customers have taken to using it has been encouraging.”
Skilltech has confirmed the Smartpipe™ delivers accurate data which has not been previously recorded in such a comprehensive way. This data provides water businesses a precise picture of who is drawing water from their reticulation systems at any point in time.
Over the course of the trial, the Smartpipe™ was well-received and found to be a proven success, with the pipes withstanding the rigors of daily use and the technology used to deliver the project was well utilised.
For Skilltech, this is an innovative achievement that can help companies deliver superior customer service and better commercial results in a more efficient way.< PreviousNext >