From the CEO
Welcome to the Summer 2014 edition of Water Matters, 2014 is shaping up to be a landmark year in the Victorian water industry and VicWater will be a significant contributor on a range of fronts.
At the start of the year the Minister for Water announced the government’s Fairer Water Bills initiative, this is an opportunity for the water sector to further improve performance and to engage with the Government on those factors that will enable these efficiencies to be delivered.
In parallel with this is the review of the Water Act and considering the future state of economic regulation. VicWater has been very active in each of these processes and will continue to support our members and engage positively to assist the government achieve its objectives.
Fittingly the theme for the VicWater Finance Conference is “Leading Change” and the Annual Conference is “Enabling Transformation“. The timing for the Annual Conference in September is ideal for the water industry to consider the opportunity for further transformation. There are significant drivers on the water industry from an economic, technological, social, climate and political perspective. The last transformation of the water industry has delivered significant benefits to customers, and with customers interest in mind, can continue to improve and provide world leading products and services to them.
VicWater has also been active in raising the water corporation concerns with Government offering suggestions on possible solutions. Water corporations support the FSL and are happy to pay their fair contribution to it, however land classification of some water assets and property valuations that did not reflect the capital improved value meant the net impact on the water corporations was in excess of $15m pa.
We are pleased with the hearing we have received from Government and are optimistic that the proposed changes will result in a much fairer treatment of water corporations and ultimately customers who would pay this cost.
The Water Law Review project has just completed the public consultation phase on the exposure draft, thank you to all of the water corporation representatives who participated in the VicWater reference group, which was ably chaired by Mr John Wilkinson.
VicWater was involved in facilitating industry responses to a number of consultations and policy releases in the lead up to Christmas, thank you to the VicWater and water corporation staff who worked on these submissions.
Lastly VicWater has a number of people to thank and wish well for the future.
Firstly Ms Shauna McDonald is leaving us to take up an opportunity to study Japanese language in Japan. Shauna has made a significant contribution to VicWater’ssuccess over the last two years and we wish her every success for the future.
There has been a significant change at Managing Director (MD) level over the last two years and this has continued in 2014 with Mr Ron Leamon (MD Lower Murray Water and who was also a former Director of VicWater), Mr Tony Kelly (MD Yarra Valley Water and former Chair of Water Aid) and Mr Shaun Cox (MD Melbourne Water and former Chair WSAA) all deciding to take up new opportunities.
All three MD’s have made a significant contribution to the Victorian Water industry beyond their specific roles as MD’s. I personally would like to thank them for their contribution and support and the team at VicWater wishes them well for the future.< PreviousNext >
Lucia Cade - New VicWater Director
I am the Chair of Western Water; Director, Strategy, Water & Infrastructure Services at AECOM; and a Director of the Australian Water Association.
I live in Port Melbourne and spend as much of my time on the beach at Aireys Inlet as I can.
Married to David and have three children, Ben 16, Joseph 14 and Zoe 10. We also have a cavoodle child called Freddy and seven goldfish whose names only Zoe can remember.
Water industry experience – how long you have worked in the industry and any previous experience in the industry?
I started my water life in the early 1990’s in research at Monash University, working in the hydraulics laboratory designing and pilot modelling new culverts for VicRoads. I then moved onto computer based modelling at Melbourne Water, creating the original hydraulic model of the sewerage network. Because of studying an MBA, I had the opportunity to work on some great business wide projects including the corporate strategy, service level agreements with the retailers and outsourcing our hydrographics services.
My next water industry role after a short break was at City West Water as the Manager of Network Strategy and 5 months as the Acting General Manager Engineering. Since then, my work has been largely in all types of horizontal infrastructure – and encompassed management consulting, construction and engineering consulting. I joined AECOM in February 2012 and am involved in water and other infrastructure projects across Australia, New Zealand and Asia.
I joined the board of Western Water in 2005 for 5 years, became a Director of the Australian Water Association in 2007 and its President in 2011. I rejoined the board of Western Water as Chair in October 2012. Last year I was appointed to the board of VicWater.
What VicWater group(s) do you participate in?
- Chairs forum
What value does your involvement in the VicWater group(s) bring to you personally; and your employer?
My involvement in VicWater is personally valuable for the insight it gives me to how issues that affect the Victorian Water industry are being managed across the state. It is a great honour to be on the Board of VicWater and contribute to how the organisation can make a successful and positive impact on the sector.
For Western Water, our involvement in VicWater provides multiple benefits. It provides an effective means of collectively contributing to policy and advocacy that is more powerful than acting alone. It also provides our directors and officers with access to excellent information, training and opportunity to network and share experiences.
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?
The top issue for Western Water and for me as Chair of Western Water is leading the organisation through strategically reviewing our business from top to bottom with a focus on delivering the new government policies of Melbourne’s Water Future and the Fairer Water Bills initiatives and focusing on delivering value to the communities and customers in Western Water’s region.
From the way we have dealt with recent incidents related to bushfires and burst mains, I have a well-placed confidence the team at Western Water is able to meet pretty much any challenge.
Anything else you want to add?
Through my work as Director of Strategy at AECOM and my involvement as a Director of the Australian Water Association for the past 7 years, I have involvement in the water industry across Australia New Zealand and globally. I have to say that the structure of the Victorian water industry and the performance of utility organisation in terms of quality of service is truly excellent. VicWater contributes enormously to this outcome through the opportunity it provides for the industry to combine forces to investigate and assess issues, the training and learning opportunities it provides.< PreviousNext >
Sarah Lamshed - Staff Member
I am the Program Manager – Intelligent Water Networks at VicWater.
I am a keen gardener with a very productive vegetable garden in Brunswick, Melbourne. I prefer to grow produce over decorative flowers. I’m also a passionate greenie and strive to live a low-impact lifestyle, plus offset my emissions by purchasing trees that are planted each year to absorb my carbon emissions.
I am also a regular cyclist who commutes to work in all types of weather and have a passion for fixing things – microwaves, sash windows, locks, ovens and skylights are a few things that come to mind!!!
Water industry experience – how long you have worked in the industry and any previous experience in the industry?
I started working in the water industry in 2001 as a Water Licensing Officer for the Barossa Valley. I then moved to Melbourne and worked for seven years at Melbourne Water in the areas of Environmental Flows and Stormwater.
Since leaving Melbourne Water in 2010 I’ve experienced a varied, but interesting few years – designing and launching the My Smart Garden Climate Adaptation Program for Hobsons Bay and Moonee Valley Councils; helping to plan a subdivision and redevelopment of my mum’s home in Adelaide; rewriting the Water Allocation Plan for the River Murray Prescribed Watercourse in South Australia and I’m now based at VicWater helping to manage the Intelligent Water Networks Program.
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?
In my current role, the most pressing issue is regarding ongoing industry support for the Intelligent Water Networks Program (IWN). I’d like more people in water corporations to appreciate that the IWN Program is a ‘live’ program and can be moulded / guided to suit the changing needs of the industry.
In the water industry at the moment I see one of the biggest issues is the growing pressure to do more with less. One of the risks of applying this pressure too severely is that it may compromise the quality of our services. I see this as an intolerable long-term risk for an industry who provides essential services and is relied upon by society to provide high quality drinking water, sewerage services and environmental outcomes.
Anything else you want to add?
My professional experience also extends to designing and implementing behaviour change programs; being skilled in the areas of community engagement and building relationships with people from a variety of backgrounds; and writing and reviewing policy. I’ve really enjoyed the varied roles I’ve undertaken over the last 13 years and look forward to the challenges and interesting tasks that I’ll no doubt undertake in the future.
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Shaun Cox left Melbourne Water on Thursday 20 February.
Mr Cox said that he had enjoyed the achievements and relished the challenges of his three years at Melbourne Water.
“This is a great organisation that does a terrific job for Melbourne and, while sad to leave, I look forward to the next chapter in my career,” Mr Cox said.
Melbourne Water Chairman Paul Clark thanked Mr Cox for the great contribution he has made to the organisation and to the Melbourne Water industry.
“We will miss Shaun’s experience and expertise greatly,” Mr Clark said.
“Shaun has helped steer the organisation from an era of investment in large-scale infrastructure to a greater focus on our customers. Shaun’s legacy will be seen in the coming years as Melbourne Water rolls out programs and initiatives efficiently to ensure customers are at the heart of everything we do.”
An announcement regarding Mr Cox’s successor will be made soon.< PreviousNext >
PLENTY OF WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE
A reflection on 26 years in the Water Industry by Ron Leamon, Retiring Managing Director of Lower Murray Water
A little over 26 years ago I was neither married nor working in the water industry. Both of these circumstances changed in close succession in the late 1980’s and, by moving into retirement, at least one will change again shortly.
My career in the water sector will soon come to a halt when a replacement is found and a short handover occurs. This could be in late April / early May.
My first contact with the water industry occurred when I was working in the municipal sector in the country hamlet of Daylesford. At that time Daylesford had not rediscovered itself and the winters were long and foggy. On occasions the fog would lift and you could see the rain.
In 1986 after 10 years in the municipal sector I had had enough of local politics. Daylesford had its own Water Board at the time and I thought that it might be a good idea to move to the water sector – no politics involved there !
After one or two job applications I lobbed a job with the newly formed (at that time) Sunraysia Water Board. CEO Ron Dudley recruited me as a construction engineer. The job interview consisted of a drive around the Mildura district and a counter lunch at the Merbein pub. Ron asked me if I wanted a beer with lunch. History shows I made the right career choice of a lemon squash – as it turns out Ron was a non-drinker.
And so it began – the Minister just after I started was Minister Walsh (the Hon Ronald ‘Bunna’) and as I leave it is once again Minister Walsh (the Hon Peter). Some of the names around at the time included Warren Wealands, Reg Bugeja and even a young Campbell Fitzpatrick. There were already several luminaries within the businesses including those just recently exiting the industry including John Wilkinson and Laurie Gleeson. A youngish Mick Bourke was the accountant at the First Mildura Irrigation Trust (no doubt a wonderful breeding ground for a fine career).
Dr John Patterson had given the industry a much needed haircut and it was all a brave new world with user pays and so on. This was the period of revolution in the 1980’s. Then came the period of evolution generated by the mergers in the mid 1990’s and a period of devolution with the introduction of the Essential Services Commission in the mid 2000’s. One wonders what the current period in the 2010’s will be called when we look back at it.
For me personally I felt a little like a passenger in all this, somewhat of a Forrest Gump. I was just in the right/wrong place at the right/wrong time.
I essentially inherited Ron Dudley’s job of chief engineer in 1995, then Brian Grogan’s job of CEO in 1999. I then inherited the roles, responsibilities, assets and liabilities of Sunraysia Rural Water Authority in 2004 and then those of the First Mildura Irrigation Trust in 2008.
There have been so many fine and wonderful people that one meets along the way. They are far too numerous to mention as are the many fine stories and anecdotes. The strength of the industry is its collegiate nature and both the IWA and more recently VicWater have done a sterling job in consolidating and building this collegiate approach and network capability.
The industry will always be in good hands based on these platforms. I wish you all well in the pursuit of our waters’ future.
Ron Leamon< PreviousNext >
Yarra Valley Water Recognised for Innovation
Yarra Valley Water is delighted to have been placed in the 2013 BRW Top 50 Innovative Australian Companies and together with Melbourne Water are the first utilities to be recognised in this listing.
Yarra Valley Water was honoured for its approach to an innovative and sustainable business culture, through a program to unlock employee potential.
Yarra Valley Water Managing Director, Tony Kelly said the organisation was thrilled that its innovative approach had been acknowledged, particularly when competing with internationally renowned organisations.
The BRW listings recognise the work in which the organisation has invested to find new ways of tackling challenges within a changing environment.
Mr Kelly said Yarra Valley Water relies on continual innovation to deliver quality services at the lowest possible cost, making a creative, high-performing workforce essential.
“Yarra Valley Water provides water and sewerage services to around 1.7 million residents in Melbourne’s northern and eastern suburbs, thereby servicing a significant section of Melbourne,” said Mr Kelly.
“We know that the services we provide must keep evolving to keep up with Melbourne’s growth and changing community expectations; our customers rely on us to deliver quality services at the lowest possible cost, making an innovative, high-performing workforce essential,”
“We innovate to improve service delivery by adding value to the customer experience, and our culture provides the platform for further progress on innovation in the future,” he said.
Mr Kelly said Yarra Valley Water innovations are embedded across the business. A small snapshot of these includes:
Choose tap – promoting the health, environmental and hip pocket benefits of choosing tap water, the program includes partnerships with many organisations and grass roots sporting clubs such as YMCA, Diabetes Australia, Dental Association and Kidney Health Australia. A Choose tap coalition is fast forming, with several Victorian water utilities joining and making a stand for tap water.
Waste to Energy project an Australian water utility first which will see a facility purpose-built to combine organic waste destined for landfill with sewage to create a renewable energy source.
Ice Pigging – embracing a new technology that uses crushed ice to clean water mains.
Australia Posts Digital Mail Box – First utility to implement this new service which enables customers to receive, pay and store their bills electronically.
Award winning Hardship program – ensuring access to water and sanitation services is not compromised by a customer’s capacity to pay for those services.< PreviousNext >
Unfortunately we must say sayonara and yoi go ryoko o (have a nice trip) to Shauna McDonald.
One of Shauna’s interests is learning Japanese and she has decided to move to Japan to study Japanese for 6 months.
We wish Shauna the very best for this amazing trip and hope to see her back in the water industry at some point in the future.
Thanks for your passion, hard work and insights – they will be missed both in the office and by your industry colleagues.< PreviousNext >
Victorian Water Educator’s Forum
The 2014 Victorian Water Educator’s Forum was held at the Lakeview Resort in Bendigo on 30 and 31 January 2014. The program for this event was put together with thanks to the Victorian Water Educators Task Group and representatives from Coliban Water, Goulburn Valley Water, Barwon Water and GWMWater.
The event was strongly attended, with 30 water industry educators attending, making it one of the best attended Educators events ever run. The delegates enjoyed the format, the content and the quality of the material presented as well as the opportunities that the Forum offered in sharing creative education ideas for early childhood, primary school and community groups.
Some highlights of the two days were:
- Kate Miles, Director of Be Social Media – a company that concentrates on building the selling potential for small business and tourism operators through the right use of social media and digital marketing. Kate offered up a fast-paced, information-rich presentation with snippets that were relevant to every level of experience within the room. Everybody spoke of getting more than a handful of “take-aways” from Kate’s presentation which is probably why it was the most highly rated presentation of the Forum.
- A number of Educators from the Victorian water authorities presented the activities that they are using to support their education roles, some of these included:
- Diane Doyle, the Education Officer from North East Water presented a hands-on Water Cycle game being used with great success.
- Kristy Elrington, the Education Officer from Goulburn Valley Water presented an activity that they are using to educate pre-school and early childhood groups on water treatment. It was noted by many as effective way to convey an advanced concept such as water treatment to such a young age group.
- Neville Pearce, the Chief Operations Officer from Coliban Water presented on the 2011 floods that impacted significantly on their area and their customers. Neville painted a vivid picture of the efforts that Coliban Water and their staff put in place to ensure that water and wastewater services were restored to their community as quickly as possible. Also outlining the systems used to communicate with their customers throughout the event to ensure public health was protected. Many delegates have not had to deal with such widespread flooding and found the information confronting but extremely valuable.
- Andrew Hinchliffe from AMH Consulting provided the educators with an update of the School Water Efficiency Program (SWEP). This program is working to get 500 Victorian schools to install data loggers which can be used to educate their students around a number of water concepts. The data loggers can and are also being used to identify, in some cases, significant leaks in systems, which once fixed are resulting in long term cost savings for the schools.
The Forum also included a terrific excursion to the Bendigo Botanic Gardens where the delegates walked around and enjoyed the existing gardens and were also shown the exciting plans for the Gardens in the coming years. The weather was extremely hot over the two-days so unfortunately an additional tour of the No.7 reservoir and historical water treatment plant had to be cancelled.
VicWater would like to thank Coliban Water for hosting the 2014 Victorian Water Educators Forum and for sharing the existing and often long term collaborative programs that have been developed to support the local area. The delegates left after the two days with a fresh outlook to take back to their water corporations. Some comments from the delegates included “the Forum reinvigorates and re-inspires”, “very valuable for ‘borrowing’ great ideas” and “everybody is so willing to share”.< PreviousNext >
VicWater OH&S Seminar
The VicWater Occupational Health and Safety Network came together for a two day Seminar in Bendigo in November 2013. The event was organised by the VicWater OH&S Steering Group which is chaired by Simon Fleming of Wannon Water. Presentations were delivered by network members from across the Victorian water industry on such topics as Asbestos Pipe Removal, Emergency Preparedness at Water Treatment Plants, Learnings from the Melbourne Water Incident and Safety in Design.
In addition, WorkSafe Victoria presented on safe removal of trees from waterways. Further Stu Wilder, a Men’s Health Educator and Bowel & Prostate Care Manager at the Western District Health Service, based in Hamilton presented on work he has been developing with Wannon Water over the last 3 years which resulted in their award winning Health & Wellbeing Program.
The Seminar was well-attended with around 30 participants over the 2 days.< PreviousNext >
Western Water Partnerships Help Community in Fire Recovery
Western Water staff who normally deal with water bursts and customer queries have expanded their role in recent weeks to coordinate hay deliveries from leased farmland at our recycled water plants and assisting customers who have lost their homes during the recent fires in the Macedon Ranges area.
Western Water Managing Director Neil Brennan said Western Water staff have closely worked in partnership with customers as well as key local stakeholders during the bushfires which had also helped to further strengthen existing ties. Western Water staff had been working closely with organisations ranging from Macedon Ranges Shire Council, the Victorian Farmers Federation and local Fire Recovery Centres to support customers and the local community, Mr Brennan said.
“We’ve provided fodder for local farm animals – grown using recycled water on farm land leased by Western Water, worked side-by-side with colleagues from Macedon Ranges Shire Council in the recovery centre to support customers left homeless or facing hardship due to the fires; and narrowly escaped fire at our pump station located on Riddell Road near Sunbury,” Mr Brennan said.
Western Water announced last week customers affected by the fire would be eligible for a one-off additional water usage allowance. This means customers who used large volumes of water to defend their properties could be eligible for a part waiver on their bill.
“Western Water has been praised by local CFA staff, customers and the community for its hard work during the past few weeks,” he said. “It is times like this that the local knowledge and support by water business staff really comes into its own,’ Mr Brennan said.< PreviousNext >
Students Study up on Irrigation Water
While most primary school students learn about saving water in the home, more than 300 recently had a chance to learn about how farmers do it on a much larger scale.
Southern Rural Water hosted students from the Werribee and Maffra districts to tour its irrigation districts as part of its annual water education program.
Students had a chance to see how the irrigation district works by visiting local water storages and the channel system
They then visited the people that use the irrigation system – local farmers.
“It was interesting to find out how much work it takes to run a farm,” said one student. “I enjoyed the farm visit a lot because I hadn’t been on a farm that grows crops before.”
Southern Rural Water Communications Officer Julie Logan said the program has received some outstanding feedback.
“We think it’s really important that local school children understand why our storages and the channels are there, and how important they are to the local farms and community.
“The Macalister Irrigation District in Gippsland contributes around $500 million to the region’s economy, and the smaller Werribee District, which grows a large percentage of Victoria’s lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower, adds $120 million.
“The irrigation districts are absolutely critical to local economies, yet many residents don’t even realise what happens there.
“We also took the chance to emphasise to students how dangerous it is to swim in our channels, and that it’s a much better option to swim in designated safe swimming areas at major reservoirs or swimming pools instead.”
Feedback from teachers
Some of the feedback Southern Rural Water received from teachers included:
“This was a fantastic excursion. It was thoughtfully constructed and totally engaging for our Y5 students. I am still amazed that such a well-constructed and action-packed excursion was at no cost to us at all!”
“It was a great opportunity for our children to see the productiveness of the local area and the water infrastructure upon which it depends.”
“Honestly, I don’t remember people being so full of excitement after an excursion in quite a long time.”< PreviousNext >
Collaborative Integrated Water Management Study for Black Forest Road Catchment
A joint analysis of the Black Forest Road catchment in the City of Wyndham by City West Water and Melbourne Water will identify the optimal Integrated Water Cycle Management Strategy for the catchment.
A stakeholders’ workshop identified a number of alternative integrated water management (IWM) servicing options. The range of options included:
- local and regional stormwater harvesting opportunities
- storage of water in tanks, wetlands, water bodies and underground aquifers
- distribution using local and regional infrastructure, including blending of stormwater with Class A recycled water.
A rapid assessment framework was developed in consultation with the project working group, which provided a basis for shortlisting of the identified IWM options. The assessment criteria reflected the stakeholders’ IWM values and objectives. This framework was used to assess all the identified options and shortlist the three best for more detailed analysis. The concept design and cost benefit analysis were prepared for the shortlisted options, including sensitivity tests to identify the preferred servicing strategy.
A final draft report has been submitted for the project and a workshop has been arranged in early March to present the results of the study to the stakeholders and initiate discussions around an implementation plan.
This project presents an example of a collaborative IWM study for a growth area catchment where coordination among the water authorities and other stakeholders delivered better outcomes in a constrained catchment. The methodology developed through this study is expected to be adopted by many similar IWM investigations in the future.
Stakeholders in the project include Wyndham City Council; Office of Living Victoria; Metropolitan Planning Authority; and developers engaged in the study through a series of workshops and working group meetings.< PreviousNext >
IWCM Plan Help’s Colac 2050 vision
The city of Colac in south-west Victoria has a population of approximately 12,000 and is a key service centre for the dairy industry. The city has a strong connection to water through Lake Colac, urban waterways, extensive areas of green open space and wide tree-lined streets, many with traditional grassed swale stormwater drains.
The community has aspirations for a healthier, greener, ‘botanic’ city and Colac Otway Shire is hoping to shortly commence a Colac 2050 project as the blueprint to transition toward a more liveable, sustainable and productive Colac. An innovative project funded through the Living Victoria Fund has put whole-of-water cycle management opportunities front and centre in this transition.
The Colac IWCM Plan is a collaboration between Colac Otway Shire, Barwon Water, Southern Rural Water and the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, supported by the Office of Living Victoria. Working through a defined ‘flow-path’, the partners analysed the role the urban water cycle played in contributing to the community’s aspirations for liveability, sustainability and productivity.
The process identified three inspirational water-cycle related opportunities that could help transform the Colac into a truly botanic city:
- increasing the amenity of Colac by applying water sensitive urban design and green space in key locations within the city including central streets and waterways
- improving the value of waterways by activating these corridors and encouraging the use of these spaces for active and passive recreation
- allowing for sustainable growth within the city while reducing flood encumbered land and setting the scene for an integrated waterway approach to development.
The project team engaged consultants Spiire to investigate and develop the ideas into high quality concept maps and graphics. Project Manager Tony Overman from Barwon Water said the visual outputs had helped people understand how the urban water cycle could help enhance liveability.
“A picture tells a thousand words and it really is the ideal medium for engaging people on a subject as complex as whole of water cycle management. Everyone is able to look at the concepts and bring their own perspective, which helps to stimulate interest and ideas about how solutions can be practically achieved,” Tony said.
The process has already led to several innovative ideas regarding urban pathways, stormwater reuse and water sensitive urban design. The Council will consider the plan as part of its Colac 2050 project.
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Pathogen Risk in a Degraded Drinking Water Catchment
Assessment of source water pathogen contamination is the first step to quantitative microbial risk assessment of drinking water. It is well known that outbreaks of disease from drinking water have occurred as a result of extreme events, such as heavy rainfall, which lead to high loads of pathogens washed into the source water. North East Water (NEW), an urban water supplier located in North East Victoria, conducted a project to determine the level of microbial risk in the King River catchment. This catchment supplies three of NEW’s water treatment plants (WTP) at Whitfield, Oxley and Moyhu. Sources of pathogen presence in the King River catchment include animal faeces deposited on land by grazing animals (cattle and sheep), discharges from septic tank systems and defecation by indigenous fauna. Agricultural practices are most likely the highest contributing factor to the high level of contamination in this catchment. Due to the nature of this catchment, extensive clearing for cropping and established farming practices in this valley, fencing of the catchment is not a feasible option. Therefore the effectiveness of the water treatment process is relied upon for pathogen removal.
To gain a better understanding of the quality of the source waters for the Whitfield, Moyhu and Oxley WTPs NEW conducted a catchment assessment. Sampling was conducted at the source water sites directly from the river at Whitfield, Moyhu and Oxley in September 2013 immediately after 45 mm of rain following a prolonged dry period (Figure 1). The monitoring program included the selected pathogens Cryptosporidium, Giardia, Campylobacter, Enterovirus, Norovirus, faecal indicators (E. coli, and, total coliforms) as well as physico-chemical characteristics of the source water (turbidity, conductivity, temperature, and pH). River height data was also monitored at the time of sampling to determine the stage of the river’s hydrograph.
Cryptosporidium and Giardia are parasitic disease causing organisms, found commonly in the environment. Faeces from warm-blooded animals can contaminate drinking water if large amounts are washed suddenly into the water supply after heavy rainfall events. Rain events not only affect water quality as a result of runoff and stormwater discharges but also because of the increased flows in the river. This may result in faster transport of pathogens from the contamination source to the WTP’s raw water offtake sites.
Results indicated that the King River is highly contaminated with Cryptosporidium, Giardia and very high concentrations of E. coli were recorded exceeding 60,000 CFU/100mL (Figure 2). Interestingly viruses were not detected in any sample analysed from this catchment. Faecal indicators E. coli and Coliforms were analysed on samples taken at different stages of the hydrograph. These results indicated a dramatic rise in E. coli and coliforms in parallel with heightened turbidity. From the results it was evident that as turbidity and river flow decreased so did these indicator organisms, and subsequently the quality of the river improved. The graph below indicates the peak and fall in pathogen contamination and turbidity during the sampled rain event (Figure 2). The analyses results of the treated sample indicated that the Oxley direct filtration WTP effectively removed the microbial pathogens analysed, with none detected in treated drinking water.
Results from this project have been used to risk assess the performance of NEW’s WTPs. A multiple barrier approach is recommended for the treatment of protozoan cysts. In water treatment systems, the strong cell wall of the protozoan cysts protects the organisms from disinfection chemical doses which would normally be effective for most bacteria and viruses. Giardia cysts can be inactivated by adequate chlorine doses and contact times. Cryptosporidium oocysts however are almost completely resistant to chlorine based disinfectants. From investigations based on tests for infectivity, it is evident that UV light affectively inactivates these oocysts.
The role of filtration is to remove suspended materials from chemically dosed water to a degree that will optimise the subsequent disinfection step and to act as a barrier to many biological hazards in particular the chlorine resistant protozoans. To put the capability of the filtration process into perspective, you must consider that a typical bacterium is the size of about 1 micron, Giardia cysts are 6 to 14 micron and Cryptosporidium oocysts are smaller at 4 to 6 micron which is several thousand times smaller than the average filter sand particle. Therefore without an effective coagulation, flocculation and clarification process, filtration is significantly limited in its ability to remove pathogens and hence cannot be relied upon solely for pathogen removal.
Event-based data from this project is important information to determine appropriate treatment barriers and processes at WTPs that draw from similar degraded catchments. The results highlight the need for optimised treatment processes at WTPs and an effective multi-barrier approach to control pathogen risk, especially when catchment control is limited.
Systems Optimisation Project Officer
North East Water, Wodonga, Victoria
Capturing the Value in Ballarat’s Stormwater
The Victorian Government is providing $600,000 towards the cost of a $1.2 million pilot project to assess the viability of using storm water to recharge the Cardigan Aquifer for use as drinking water.
The development of the Ballarat West Employment Zone provides a unique opportunity to introduce innovative water management that builds climate change resilience, provides great water security to growing populations, enhances waterway health and creates greener cities.
This “proof of trial” project investigates rooftop rainfall harvesting combined with managed aquifer recharge (MAR) as a water supply and management technology that can deliver a range of benefits to help communities to meet these challenges.
The pilot project will ultimately inform and support the development of a sustainable water supply into the Ballarat West Urban Growth Area and the Ballarat West Employment Zone.
Rooftop rainfall harvesting/managed aquifer recharge schemes in the Ballarat West Employment Zone will deliver benefits far in excess of the provision of an additional water supply. These include; improved waterway health and ecosystem protection, flood alleviation and reduced pollution loads reducing storm water infrastructure costs, reduced land requirements compared to large dam storages, reduced evaporation losses, water quality treatment benefits and transportation and energy savings.
The pilot project is a partnership between Central Highlands Water and City of Ballarat in association with the Office of Living Victoria and Southern Rural Water.
Central Highlands Water has extensive groundwater management experience with this aquifer and City of Ballarat has stormwater management rights over the development site.
Central Highlands Water and the City of Ballarat are both contributing $300,000 to the pilot project.
David O’Brien, Member for Western Victoria welcomed the announcement of the project and congratulated the Office of Living Victoria, Central Highlands Water and the City of Ballarat for working together on this important research project.< PreviousNext >
Look Who’s Talking Now: Innovative Rainwater Tank Systems
It may sound like something out of a science fiction film – innovative artificial intelligence that interprets data and takes action – but, through an industry-led project, Australia has opened the floodgates to intelligent rainwater tank systems.
Talking Tanks monitors water levels in a rainwater tank and automatically releases water at a controlled rate if required. The system pre-empts the release of water from set points that are chosen by the user, according to rain or storm predictions which are received via a communications link to the Bureau of Meteorology.
“The system automatically releases water, creates storage capacity and prevents overflows of stormwater – with unique self-learning these intelligent systems are paving the way forward for efficient management of rainwater tanks,” says Business Development Manager iota, Adrian Blinman.
iota forms the commercial arm of South East Water – one of the leading water retailers in Victoria, Australia – which promotes innovative ideas and proven technologies for use across a range of sectors.
“Stormwater can increase the risk of overflow into urban waterways and in some cases carry litter and pollutants or cause erosion. Customers are able to pre-set the required tank water levels and control this remotely through the use of an internet connection or even a smart phone, taking the guesswork out of rainwater management,” said Mr Blinman.
As varying roof and tank combinations react differently to the volume and intensity of a downpour, the software has been designed to learn and self-correct following each rain event. An advanced algorithm was developed to analyse how successful the capture of rainwater was and adjust accordingly for future events.
“With this intelligent technology on board, users can limit the possibility of stormwater overflows and flooding. If rainfall is expected,
Talking Tanks will anticipate that draining is required to provide new capacity to capture and hold the incoming stormwater,” said Mr Blinman.
Rainwater tanks have become a valuable tool for the catchment and re-use of rain water, but the tanks also aid in the reduction of the impact of stormwater on drainage infrastructure, roads, urban streams and beaches.
“The application of Talking Tanks on a large scale is an effective measure in prolonging the life of existing stormwater infrastructure or minimising the impact of peak flows on natural waterways that form an integral part of a stormwater network.”
Case Study: Dobson’s Creek, Victoria, Australia
Dobson’s Creek runs through the peri-urban community of The Basin, which is located 31 kilometres east of Melbourne at the foot of the Dandenong Ranges in Victoria. The creek has the highest ecological value within the municipality. However, as with most urban waterways, the health of the creek is adversely impacted by stormwater flows that can carry litter and pollutants or cause erosion. South East Water wanted to reduce the volumes and the speed with which stormwater enters Dobson’s Creek to help create a healthier, more natural environment.
Project partners South East Water, Melbourne Water, and Knox City Council aimed to reduce the proportion of surfaces that were directly connected to the creek to improve water quality. A system that could shorten these peak stormwater flows within a city environment without the need for huge retention basins was needed. iota services brought together several systems to attempt to resolve this problem in a cost effective way.
In order to ensure tanks were ready to receive rainwater runoff, they may have had to dump some or all of the water contained within them before the predicted rain event arrived. iota aimed to achieve this by employing existing innovative iota products and software that could monitor local weather data and react by a controlled release of water in the tank before the forecast rain event arrived.
A microprocessor linked to a solenoid valve on the tank’s outlet was used to manage the water held by the tank. These units were controlled by South East Water’s SCADA network to which they were linked via a telemetry unit. In addition, the telemetry would monitor local weather forecasts.
Adding complexity to the task, the residential rainwater tanks had dual and conflicting purposes:
- to leave space within the tank to capture the peak stormwater event
- to retain water in the tank for the resident to use for their own purposes such as irrigation or reuse in the home.
The microprocessor was to only release sufficient water from the tank that would be necessary to capture the forecast rain. A smaller forecast rain event would not necessarily require all the water in the tank to be released. All combinations of roof and tanks react differently to the volume and intensity of a rain event. To account for this variation and to ensure the tank’s dual duties were achieved, the microprocessor’s software algorithm needed to learn and self-correct as it reacted to each rain event. The algorithm detects how successful the capture of rainwater was for each predicted rain event and whether it should change the volume needed in the tank for future similar predicted rain events.
South East Water retained control over these multiple tanks and were able to monitor their performance via the SCADA system. The user would also retain control over the water retained in the tank by allowing access to the SCADA webpage for their tank and an iPhone app that allows control over the tank release valve and set-points. Monitoring the multiple tanks via South East Water’s SCADA system indicated that they were operating as intended, releasing water before forecast rain events and retaining the runoff during the storm – effectively reducing the peak flow.< PreviousNext >
Harcourt Rural Modernisation Project
Coliban Water has appointed Redline Mining and Infrastructure Pty Ltd for the construction phase of its $40 million Harcourt Rural Modernisation Project.
The contract for the installation of the rural pipeline is the final one to be awarded and will enable the project to proceed on the ground.
Four contracts have been awarded for the project: the supply of pumps; the supply of large diameter pipes; construction of the system’s balancing tank; and the pipeline and pump station construction.
The delivery of the 19 kilometres of pipes needed to construct the backbone of the pipeline was completed in February, with four trucks per day delivering pipes over three months.
Minister for Water Peter Walsh visited the pipe delivery site in December to mark the start of deliveries, along with Coliban Water Deputy Chairman Russell Walker, Coliban Water Managing Director Jeff Rigby and members of the Harcourt Water Services Committee.
The Harcourt Water Services Committee was established in 2008 and has played a significant role in the project, which will provide a year-round pressurised supply of water to irrigators in the region.
The concrete and earthen channel system has become inefficient after servicing rural customers for more than 100 years.
Around 65 kilometres of open channels will be replaced by the new system, saving an estimated 950 megalitres of water per year.
Mr Rigby said: “The project will provide greater water security, resulting in improved business certainty for local irrigators in the area.
“We have worked with the local community to design a supply system that will meet their needs now and into the future.”
The contract to supply pumps was awarded in two parts to Xylem for the Faraday site and KSB for the Barkers Creek site; the supply of large diameter pipes was awarded to Pentair; and the contract for the construction of the balancing tank was awarded to A1 Quality Concrete Tanks.< PreviousNext >
Irrewarra Farm Care Group ‘Taggle’ Trial
Colac is Barwon Water’s second largest serviced community. On average, the Colac supply district consumes about 3,300 million litres a year of drinking water from the mains supply. About one third of this volume is used by farmers around Colac for stock watering, especially dairy cattle.
This source of high quality water is vital to the viability of these farms, many of which do not have easy access to surface or groundwater.
At the farm level, the combination of pressurised water, small diameter poly-pipe networks and exposure to the elements and stock can contribute to leakage. If undetected, these leaks can lead to significant wastage of drinking water.
Barwon Water ‘Taggle’ trial
In July, 2013, Barwon Water commenced an on-farm leak detection trial with the Irrewarra Farm Care Group. The trial utilises state-of-the-art radio transmitting technology to allow farmers to view their water use online and detect irregularities that may point to leaks. Once detected, the leaks can be quickly repaired.
The trial uses ‘Taggle’, a proprietary technology comprising low cost, low power, transmitting devices that attach to existing water meters. Data is sent digitally via radio technology to high-sensitivity receivers, which have a range of more than 10 kilometres.
Each unit transmits usage data hourly, resulting in a detailed daily record of consumption. The trial involves 25 farmers and 75 transmitters. Most farmers have more than one transmitter because they have more than one water meter. Barwon Water has provided up to two transmitters per property free of charge.
The data is available via the ‘Taggle’ website to each individual farmer and to Barwon Water as the host.
Since the trial started, farmers analysing their Taggle data have detected at least 30 leaks. In all cases, the farmers have repaired the leaks, ranging from very large – up to 60 litres per minute – to very small – 5 litres per hour.
The early results from the trial demonstrate that larger leaks can be detected within hours to a day. Even smaller leaks can be detected within a week. The leaks detected so far accounted for almost 1,500 kilolitres of water, valued at more than $3,300. By detecting and repairing these leaks early, farmers have saved up to $190 a day.< PreviousNext >
Aquaculture Project Enters Exciting New Phase
Wannon Water’s innovative aquaculture project has moved from its extensive research phase and into an operational tool aiding the treatment of sewage in Hamilton.
In January 2014, Wannon Water’s Aquaculture team released 5,000 goldfish into a series of floating cages in the Hamilton Water Reclamation Plant’s sewage treatment lagoons.
The release is understood to be a first for the Australian water industry and is the culmination of a concerted research effort over recent years.
The novel approach has the potential to significantly reduce the operating costs and carbon emissions associated with sewage treatment by reducing the need for costly de-sludging and lowering the amount of energy used.
Wannon Water Managing Director Grant Green said previous research conducted by Wannon Water in partnership with Deakin University has shown that goldfish consume and remove nutrients and sludge from sewage while maintaining the quality of recycled water.
“Wannon Water has monitored more than 20,000 fish in the last few years, fine-tuning the research program to determine the most efficient and cost-effective approach to improving sewage treatment through aquaculture,” Mr Green said.
“The experiments have been highly successful, with the goldfish thriving in our experimental tanks and substantially reducing the amount of sludge accumulated in the sewage treatment process.
“We are confident that the fish released into the sewage treatment lagoons will reduce our reliance on costly mechanical de-sludging, providing a more cost-efficient sewage treatment option for south-west Victoria.”
Wannon Water has established a dedicated fish hatchery in Warrnambool to produce larvae and fry for delivery to its own juvenile fish production facility in Hamilton, which has been converted from obsolete biosolids drying beds. The fry are then grown to a size suitable to be introduced into the sewage treatment lagoons.
An experienced hatchery manager has recently been appointed to progress the project, bringing a wealth of international experience in commercial fish production, including goldfish.
“Wannon Water will monitor the success of the project at Hamilton to assess the potential of goldfish to aid sewage treatment at other water reclamation plants,” Mr Green said.
Plans are already underway for expanding the program to four other sites across the region.
Further information on the aquaculture project is available at www.wannonwater.com.au or by calling 1300 926 666.< PreviousNext >
Australia's Top Scientists Choose Tap
Leading scientists at the Australian Synchrotron are ditching bottled water to ‘Choose Tap’ after signing up to the Yarra Valley
Water initiative. The Australian Synchrotron, a research facility available to all Australian and international scientists, catalyses outcomes that improve the wellbeing of the nation.
The Synchrotron is one of the most significant pieces of scientific infrastructure in the southern hemisphere. It creates an intense light, a million times brighter than the sun, to allow researchers to ‘see the invisible’: exquisite detail of materials and biological systems not achievable by laboratory techniques. The facility provides unique capability for leading edge industrial and scientific research and development in health, mining and advanced materials, energy and environment.
Professor Andrew Peele, Director of the Australian Synchrotron said that the organisation is proud to be associated with Choose Tap, and encouraged current and future scientists to stay hydrated.
“We have scientists visiting from all across the globe to carry out their research at our facility. Maintaining focus and concentration is critical when carrying out such important work. Staying hydrated ensures that our scientists are at their best and that their concentration levels are at their peak. We understand the importance of a high-quality water supply in cooling our research equipment, allowing it to remain at a constant temperature and provide a stable environment for experiments.
Choose Tap means that the same high-quality resource can be supplied to our people; ensuring they maintain good health in a way that is conscious of our environmental responsibilities and helps fulfil our vital role in training and educating our next generation of scientists” said Professor Peele.
Since opening in 2007 the facility has hosted more than 10,000 researcher visits resulting in discoveries such as: how insulin binds to the body, allowing for more effective and robust development for insulin delivery in the treatment of diabetes; the demonstration for mining and exploration that gum trees can be used to detect the presence of gold deep below the surface; new materials for hydrogen storage; and novel methods of x-ray therapy for the treatment of cancer.
Mr Tony Kelly, Managing Director of Yarra Valley Water said we know that drinking water can help improve your concentration, so it is no surprise that some of our country’s leading scientists Choose Tap.
“Yarra Valley Water is committed to working with the local community and we are extremely pleased to have such a prestigious organisation such as the Australian Synchrotron on board with Choose Tap. The overall aim of the partnership is to encourage the consumption of tap water where ever possible and to help people make an informed choice about what they drink. Choose Tap also showcases the high standard of drinking water available in Melbourne to international visitors, who may not be as fortunate to have access to such good quality tap water in their home countries.
“The facility provides training and opportunities for the future scientists who are potentially making life changing discoveries every day. The aim of the work carried out here is to improve the lives of the people living on our planet in some way, no matter how big or small that discovery may be. By taking responsibility for our actions, even in terms of what we drink and where it comes from, we can all help to improve the world we live in,” said Mr Kelly.< PreviousNext >
Native Plant Seed Orchard Established at Red Cliffs
Lower Murray Water has established a native plant seed orchard on the site of the old Red Cliffs Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). The seed orchard has been planted with native species commonly used in re-vegetation projects in the Mallee. When the plants are mature, the orchard will be able to provide seed for Landcare groups and others to carry out re-vegetation.
The Red Cliffs WWTP was decommissioned in 2010 and wastewater flows from the township of Red Cliffs were diverted to the refurbished Koorlong WWTP. The Koorlong WWTP is an advanced, activated sludge treatment plant which treats wastewater to a standard where it is a valuable resource which is reused for irrigated horticulture.
Lower Murray Water was keen to retain the site of the old Red Cliffs WWTP as a useful community resource and decided that a native plant seed orchard would meet these objectives. Re-vegetation in the Mallee is carried out by either hand planted seedlings or via directly sowing seeds into the ground. Seed for these projects is typically harvested from wild populations of native plants. Although it is carefully managed, seed harvesting can place pressure on wild plant populations, reducing the seed available for natural regeneration. The small numbers of native plant seed orchards in the Mallee are a valuable resource.
The Red Cliffs native plant seed orchard has been planted with a combination of fast growing wattles, small saltbushes and grasses as well as the slower growing, iconic species of semi-arid woodlands: Pine, Buloke, Sugarwood and Hakeas. The plants will be irrigated via a dripper system until they are established. When the seed orchard is mature, community groups such as Landcare will be able to request access to the seed. Lower Murray Water will also use the seed for its own re-vegetation works. The species planted on the site include: Slender Cypress Pine (Callitris gracilis), Buloke (Allocasuarina luehmannii), Sugarwood (Myoporum platycarpum), Moonah (Melaleuca lanceolata), Needlewood (Hakea tephrosperma and H. lanceolata), Wattles (Acacia brachybotrya, A. ligulata, A. rigens, and A. wilhelmiana), Ruby Saltbush (Enchylaena tomentosa), Creeping Saltbush (Rhagodia spinescens), Flax Lilly (Dianella revoluta) and Feather Speargrass (Austrostipa elegantissima).
Those wanting further information about the seed orchard can contact Fiona Murdoch, Environmental Services on 5051 3471 or firstname.lastname@example.org< PreviousNext >