From the CEO
Welcome to the Winter 2014 edition of Water Matters. Reflecting on the 2013-14 year it is clear that there has been a significant workload for the industry and VicWater has welcomed the opportunity to work with its members and stakeholders to achieve improved industry performance whilst reducing costs for customers. We are pleased that Fairer Water Bills has included a focus on risk analysis to provide confidence that the short term efficiency objective should not jeopardise the long term sustainability of services to customers.
Stage two of Fairer Water Bills will provide significant opportunities for the industry to work together to identify future efficiencies within the water sector. Amongst other priorities, VicWater is a strong supporter of the collaboration and strategic procurement initiatives. In a recent example of how VicWater can leverage positive results on a ‘whole of industry’ basis, VicWater produced a position paper regarding the unintended outcomes of the introduction of the Fire Services Levy, with strong engagement from a broad range of its members. This submission was instrumental in achieving a reduction in net costs of $15 million per annum for the industry.
We have also noted a number of significant changes within the OLV over recent weeks. On behalf of the wider industry I would like to wish Mike Waller and Simon Want all the best for their future endeavours. VicWater and our members will continue to work closely with DEPI and the OLV on a range of policy and reform initiatives.
I would also like to congratulate Pat McCafferty who was recently appointed as Managing Director of Yarra Valley Water. Pat has been with Yarra Valley Water since 2001 and in that time has contributed significantly to both the business and the industry as a whole – a very strong appointment and a much deserved individual.
Similarly VicWater congratulates Mr Phil Endley who was recently appointed as Managing Director of Lower Murray Water. Phil has previously worked for Thames Water in the United Kingdom, United Utilities Australia and Osmoflo Pty.
One of our regular calendar events was held in this quarter; the Finance Conference. Attendance and feedback for this event was very strong with several delegates commenting “excellent speakers – quality and topics were excellent”. My personal stand-out being Vinh Giang, a magician and the 2013 South Australian Entrepreneur of the year, Vinh wove profound messages into what was part magic act and part a challenging presentation on the power that an open mind can bring to business.
Another of our regular calendar events is nearing, the VicWater Annual Conference which will be held on 11 & 12 September at The Langham in Melbourne. We are pleased to announce that the Minister for Water, the Honourable Peter Walsh has again kindly agreed to join us for the main Conference dinner.
There are not many places left at the Annual Conference or the main dinner and it has sold out the last three years so if you would like to attend please contact Fiona on (03) 9639 8868 as soon as possible.
Lastly, VicWater has been busy making a number of submissions on behalf of the industry over the last quarter, namely the Safe Drinking Water Regulations, Economic Regulation – response to the Independent Reviewers Draft Advice, State Planning Policy Framework, Code of Practice for Timber Harvesting, Gas Market Taskforce and AgVet Chemicals Legislation. We encourage you to familiarise yourself with them – click here to view. If you have any questions or comments we will be pleased to discuss them with you.
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Yarra Valley Water Announces Appointment of New Managing Director
The Board of Yarra Valley Water announced the appointment of Mr. Patrick (“Pat”) McCafferty as the new Managing Director of Yarra Valley Water with effect from 1st July, 2014.
Pat McCafferty is presently the General Manager, Strategy and Communications at Yarra Valley Water and has over 30 years’ water industry experience. Pat has had significant operational responsibilities as well as critical strategic accountabilities in senior roles spanning business strategy, regulation, marketing, customer service, finance and information technology.
“This appointment was made after a rigorous national and international executive search over the last six months. Pat McCafferty was the unanimous choice of the Board to become the next Managing Director at Yarra Valley Water, following his excellent service as a General Manager over the last decade,” Chairman Peter Wilson said. “The Board, and indeed the whole organisation, offer their sincerest congratulations to Pat and we look forward to working with him in addressing the challenges and opportunities facing the company and the water sector in Victoria over the next several years.”
Pat will succeed Tony Kelly in the role, following Tony’s advice to the Board in November last year that he wished to retire after eleven years as the Yarra Valley Water’s Managing Director.
Peter Wilson stated that “The Board would also like to place on record our sincerest thanks to Tony Kelly for his exemplary service as Yarra Valley Water’s Managing Director, in particular his focus on productivity, innovation, and the significant development of the organisation’s culture during his decade in the top job. We all wish Tony and his family the very best in the years to come.”< PreviousNext >
New Lower Murray Water Managing Director Announced
Lower Murray Water Chair John Tesoriero recently announced the appointment of the organisation’s new Managing Director, Mr Phil Endley.
“After reviewing 80 applications and then undertaking a rigorous assessment and interview process we believe we have employed the right person for the job.” Said Mr Tesoriero
“Mr Endley has extensive experience with water and engineering organisations in Australia and overseas and he has previously worked for Thames Water in the United Kingdom and also for United Utilities Australia and Osmoflo Pty Ltd in Australia. Most recently he was the Director of Katalyst21 a specialised water utility consultant.”
“We are very happy to have someone with over 25 years of work experience in the water industry. This experience in both the private and public sphere will be suited to a Corporation like LMW.”
“We know that our customers are looking for a leader who will be able to ensure that LMW is being run to the best of its ability in delivering quality water services to the region.” Said Mr Tesoriero
Mr Endley commented, “I am looking forward to taking up this role and building on the success of Lower Murray Water, and to becoming part of a vibrant regional community.”
Mr Endley has a Bachelor of Science and also a Masters of Business Administration and is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
He will commence the role of MD in early September.< PreviousNext >
Making a splash – for 20 years!
Southern Rural Water is celebrating after Strategy and Human Resources Analyst, Val Purcell, clocked up 20 years with the corporation.
Val is SRW’s longest serving female employee, starting out as Customer Liaison Officer in July 1994, when SRW was known as the Rural Water Corporation.
Since then, she has moved into several different roles, including Water Services Support, Groundwater Licensing, Group Support Officer and finally into the Human Resources department.
“When I became Personnel Administration Officer it sparked my interest in Human Resources,” says Val.
She completed the Diploma in Frontline Management in Action Program in conjunction with Gippsland Water in June 2002 and the Diploma of Business (Human Resources) in December 2006.
“I progressed to Senior Human Resources Officer East, doing things such as recruitment, payroll, workers compensation, occupational health & safety and vehicle fleet management.
“In December 2011 my role was redesigned to become what it is now – Strategy and Human Resources Analyst, with my time split between strategy development and Human Resources.”
Val says her favourite things about working at SRW are the people, the variety of work and working in an industry that makes a difference.
“I am not the only one who has been here a long time and there are definitely some faces around that have been here longer than me. I really think Southern Rural Water is a great place to work and that is why I am still here.
“I’m not one to kick back and relax, but I’m very happy in the role I have now. It has lots of challenges to keep me interested. One of my projects now is to help improve some of the Employee Services processes and I also want to make sure I maintain a work life balance.”
While not at work, Val enjoys training her dogs, cycling and kayaking. She recently took part in the 90km Ride for the Animals as part of a fundraising team and is currently training for next year’s Sale to the Sea kayaking challenge.
Her advice for young women aspiring to work in the water industry?
“If you want to have a go at something, say so, or have a go at it. Even if you don’t succeed the first time, you will at the very least, be letting your employer know that you want something more and are keen for a challenge. There is a wealth of opportunity in the water industry and you should take the chance to go for it. I have always thought that, you spend 8 hours a day at work, so you owe it to yourself to do something that gives you a sense of achievement.”< PreviousNext >
Pat McCafferty - New Yarra Valley Water Managing Director
I’m Melbourne born and bred, and have lived most of my life in the Eastern Suburbs – I’m married with two sons aged 21 and 18. I’m quite involved in the community, particularly through local sports clubs over many years as a player and football coach. I’m also on the Council of the YMCA’s Bridge Project, which runs programs for young men that have entered the juvenile justice system, to provide pathways (especially work experience) that give them a chance of a better future.
My interests include fitness, travel and history, and our family loves spending time at our caravan on the Murray River (can’t get away from water), where we regularly catch up with friends and enjoy water skiing.
Water industry experience – how long you have worked in the industry and any previous experience in the industry?
I’ve been in the water industry for over 30 years, having worked across a range of functions at senior level, including strategy, regulation and planning, marketing, communications, operations, customer service, finance and information technology. Prior to my current role, I held General Manager positions in Customer Operations, and Strategy & Communications at Yarra Valley Water.
I also had the chance to work in California on secondment in 2002, helping a water utility (East Bay Municipal Utility District) develop strategies relating to customer service, organisational culture and water efficiency. In 2007 I chaired an Expert Group advising the Federal Government as part of the National Water Initiative, and I’m currently Chair of the Water Services Association of Australia’s Customer and Community Network. I was President of the Institute of Water Administration in 2013.
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?
Well, the word Productivity is on everyone’s lips – and that’s not surprising given the broad national context and the role water and sanitation plays in our standards of living. Frankly, its always been part of our job. So the key challenge (and opportunity) for all of us is achieving sustainable breakthroughs in our productivity, while ensuring we continue to deliver high levels of service for both current and future generations.< PreviousNext >
VicWater Finance Conference 2014
This year’s event featured new release information, high-profile speakers, innovation and networking for more than 110 delegates across the industry.
Conference delegates received information released on the morning of the conference, regarding Professor Graeme Samuel’s AC (Independent Reviewer, Fairer Water Bills) preliminary report ‘Economic regulation, governance and efficiency in the Victorian water sector’. Delegates were provided with overview and insight into the release by both VicWater (CEO, Tony Wright) and the Office of Living Victoria.
The latest economic update was provided to delegates by Treasury Corporation of Victoria, DEPI outlined their ‘Food to Asia Action Plan for Victoria’ and the Victorian Auditor-General and Sector Director provided personal insight into the auditing process.
From within the water industry, delegates were provided with key highlights and innovation from Melbourne Water’s Financial Risk Management Program and Central Highlands Water’s Business Efficiency Initiatives Program.
Perspectives from outside the industry included credit profiles from National Australia Bank, strategy execution from PricewaterhouseCoopers, collaborative intelligence from Kieran Flanagan (Key Note) and alternate perspectives from Vinh Giang, 2013 South Australian Entrepreneur of the Year.
This year’s dinner and entertainment was held at the Rendezvous Grand Hotel, Melbourne and included a multimedia trivia night, an energy fuelled mock auction and an iPad competition for all conference delegates.
Please note, some presentations are available on the conference app .
We look forward to seeing you at next year’s VicWater Finance Conference.< PreviousNext >
2014 Rural Water Awards
The 2014 Rural Water Awards are now open. These awards seek to recognise and reward rural water customers that have developed or adapted clever farming ideas that have led to better water use outcomes on their property. Ideas that have delivered or have the potential to deliver water savings or greater productivity for their business.
Regional and State level cash prizes are available in four categories; irrigation, groundwater, surface water and community/education groups but you must hurry as nominations close Sunday 31 August 2014.
Don’t miss out on this terrific opportunity to be recognised for your great innovative work.
Click here to access further information; including Awards flyer, nomination form and full terms and conditions. You can also contact the Project Coordinator, April Jenkins via phone (03) 9639 8868 or email.
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Head office refurbishment announced
Barwon Water’s Ryrie Street headquarters will undergo a $25 million refurbishment to help drive further efficiencies and the continued delivery of high quality services to customers.
Premier Denis Napthine visited Geelong on August 14, to announce the upgrade, which will allow Barwon Water to consolidate its Geelong workforce in the one location.
Employees are currently split between two outdated offices at Ryrie Street and South Geelong.
Consolidating the organisation’s corporate activities in a multi-functional building will result in efficiencies and increased productivity. Reductions of up to 45 per cent on maintenance, operational and energy costs and reduced travel time between offices are expected
The Ryrie Street building, which was constructed in 1977, will be gutted and updated to meet modern standards.
Importantly, the project will be price neutral, with operational savings and consolidation of buildings to fund the work.
Up to 100 jobs are expected to be created during construction, which is due to begin in 2015.< PreviousNext >
Interactive map gives customers live information of works and bursts
South East Water has launched a first for the Victorian water industry with South East Water LIVE, an interactive map for customers with information on emergency works, planned improvements and scheduled services.
The water retailer wanted to offer a valuable service that would give customers on-the-spot access to accurate, immediate information from any mobile device or computer.
“We wanted to offer our customers a live feed of information so they have everything at their fingertips,” said General Manager Customer and Business Futures Dr Hamish Reid.
“South East Water LIVE provides an interactive map for anyone to view current emergency works, planned improvements and scheduled services that are happening live across our service region. And it provides estimated resolution times for works, so customers can know how long it might impact them.”
The retailer, who provides water, sewerage and recycled water services to more than 1.6 million people, is one of the first with a map-based, mobile friendly, online solution for customers. The site allows users to search by suburb, street and if on a mobile device, pin point a location relative to the nearest emergency works or network improvement.
“There is an increasing expectation that retailers and utilities provide timely information for their customers in an accessible way. I’m pleased to say that we have delivered on this with the launch of this innovative, convenient and interactive tool,” said Dr Reid.< PreviousNext >
Aboriginal history commemorated at Wannon Water’s Konongwootong Reservoir
Wannon Water’s Konongwootong Reservoir was the site of a unique ceremony in July to acknowledge indigenous cultural values and respectfully recognise a massacre that occurred in 1840 at the site now occupied by the reservoir.
Konongwootong Reservoir provides water to rural customers and acts as a back-up supply to the Tullich groundwater system.
The ceremony involved the opening of a new commemorative “Quiet Place”, which Wannon Water established in consultation with the Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Corporation to encourage informed visitor contemplation.
The ceremony was attended by Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Tim Bull and poignantly coincided with National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week. The event attracted about 100 local community members, shire councillors, Gunditj Elders and their families, and included a traditional smoking ceremony and commemorative tree planting.
Mr Bull congratulated Wannon Water and Elders from the Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Corporation for working together to design a place “of contemplation and learning”.
“The Konongwootong Quiet Place is where people can come together to acknowledge our history,” he said.
It is estimated 41 Konongwootong Gunditji people were killed in April 1840 by white settlers seeking retribution for the theft of a flock of sheep.
Wannon Water Chairman John Vogels said the Quiet Place was an important step towards bringing Wannon Water’s long-term vision for the reservoir to fruition.
“In developing the Konongwootong Reservoir Master Plan, Wannon Water determined that it was important to acknowledge the site’s cultural heritage values and to recognise the injustice of the events of 1840.”
In establishing the Quiet Place Wannon Water undertook landscaping works, installed interpretive signage, walking paths and three stone benches and improved the road access to make the site safer for visitors.
The reservoir also has a reputation as a prime recreational fishing location and received a further boost in August when Wannon Water was allocated $255,000 from the Victorian Government’s 2014/15 Recreational Fishing Grants Program over three years.
The funding will be used to improve access points and parking and to install trails, seating, fishing platforms and signage. These upgrades were earmarked under the Master Plan and complement an upgrade of the dam wall upgrade completed in 2013.< PreviousNext >
Finding Better Ways – a joint initiative
How do you find better ways of working together? The answer might lie in developing a partnership, otherwise known as a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
In fact East Gippsland, South Gippsland, Westernport & Gippsland Water have all joined forces to do just that.
In the process they will deliver efficiencies for the common benefit of their customers.
The partnership is, in fact, called ‘Finding Better Ways’, and includes the development of a strategic alliance team made up of senior representatives from each business.
The team is charged with fostering a collaborative approach to identifying, researching and implementing productivity initiatives across the regions water corporations.
Through the Finding Better Ways initiative, the four water corporations will aim to share ideas and concepts in order to make each of their businesses more efficient.
The intention is to facilitate;
- the sharing of expertise
- adoption of joint system options where mutually beneficial
- innovation and capability-building
- mutual collaboration and areas of cooperation in the provision of services
Within the four-way arrangement, a number of working groups have been established to find potential ways to cooperate in; Procurement, IT/Corporate Business Systems, Fleet Management, Sampling/Testing, and Training.
Other areas of joint interest will be pursued.
Examples of projects under development include; OH&S training and compliance, core operations’ training, water quality analysis, account printing services, stores and inventory, fleet management and IT system replacements.
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David Sheehan presents at World Health Organisation meetings in Kyrgyzstan
Coliban Water General Manager Water Quality Performance & Regulation David Sheehan attended two World Health Organisation (WHO) meetings in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, in June to present on the water safety planning approach to managing risk.
The two meetings, a water safety plans workshop and a meeting of WHO’s Small Community Water Supply Management Network, were held back to back.
They were organised by the WHO’s European Centre for Environment and Health (ECEH) for delegates from the 12 Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA) countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan) and Mongolia.
Mr Sheehan’s presentations at the Building Capacities for the Development of Water Safety Plans meeting were Identifying Hazards, Hazardous Events, Risks and Existing Control Measures and The Auditing of Water Safety Plans.
“The objective of the meeting was to increase knowledge and awareness of the water safety plan approach to stakeholders from the health, environment and water sectors. Water safety plans are the WHO’s equivalent of our risk management plans, required in Victoria under The Safe Drinking Water Act 2003.” said Mr Sheehan.
“About 40 per cent of European countries have some experience with water safety plans at present, ranging from pilot projects to regulations or national strategies. EECCA countries have laws and regulations for drinking water quality but there isn’t a strong level of enforcement.
“The focus is still on end-point testing rather than identifying risks and making checks during the treatment processes. The approach we have in Victoria is still close to the benchmark for drinking water quality management anywhere in the world.”
Prior to joining Coliban Water, Mr Sheehan was a member of the WHO’s International Network of Drinking-Water Regulators (RegNet) and had presented at an International Water Association/WHO workshop on the auditing of water safety plans in Manila in the Philippines in 2013.
As well as making two presentations, Mr Sheehan also chaired a session on Sanitary inspections of small supplies at the Small Community Water Supply Management Network meeting.
Small water-supply systems serve about 195 million people in the WHO European Region, 30 million of whom take water from supplies that are not regulated. The 60 participants at the meeting discussed good practices to regulate and manage these systems to protect public health.
The meeting identified water safety plan champions from the Network who can support initiatives in the EECCA region.
“The meetings in Bishkek were a great opportunity to share knowledge and discuss strategies,” said Mr Sheehan. “We were able to raise awareness of the importance of water safety plans to the 12 EECCA countries and Mongolia. It was an honour to be asked to present and Bishkek is a fascinating place to visit.”
Mr Sheehan made a 37,000 kilometre round trip to attend the meetings in Bishkek. Kyrgyzstan is similar in size and population to Victoria, with around 900,000 people living in Bishkek.
Further information on the meetings can be found on the WHO website< PreviousNext >
Goulburn River survey nets encouraging results
A recent fish survey of the Goulburn River between Yea and Mangalore by scientists from the Arthur Rylah Institute on behalf of the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (CMA) has confirmed the presence of threatened Macquarie perch.
Goulburn Broken CMA River Health Officer Sue Kosch said confirmation that Macquarie perch were in the Goulburn River was great news for everyone involved in projects to boost the species’ population.
“Two Macquarie perch were caught and one more observed,” Ms Kosch said. “These individuals were collected about 2.5 kilometers downstream from the King Parrot Creek junction. “
Macquarie fingerlings have been released into the Goulburn River by Fisheries Victoria during stocking events over the past two years in an effort to restore viable populations back into major streams.
One Macquarie perch collected during the survey was an adult (330mm long) and was not a stocked fish from recent years, while the other individual was a juvenile (120mm long) and could have been from the 2013 stocking event.
Landowners along the river, as well as other tributaries, have been working with agencies to protect and improve habitat for the fish.
“The results of this survey are great news and confirms sightings we’d had from local anglers about the presence of Maccas in the Goulburn,” Ms Kosch said.
Forty six sites were sampled between the Yea River junction and Mangalore using boat electrofishing techniques.
A total of 3,067 fish, comprising of eight native and seven introduced fish species, were captured or observed during the survey. Native species captured included Murray cod, golden perch, river blackfish, two-spined blackfish, mountain galaxias, flat-headed gudgeon and Australian smelt. Freshwater crayfish were also recorded.
The average length of Murray cod collected was 520mm (range 67-930mm), while the average length of golden perch was 398mm (range 250-590mm).
There appeared to be an increase in the number of large-bodied native fish including Murray cod and golden perch with distance downstream (ie more fish towards Seymour). The survey also noted a healthy population of platypus.
Ms Kosch said 57 fish including 38 Murray cod, 18 golden perch and one Macquarie perch were externally tagged with a unique T-Bar tag during the surveys.
“These tags are located near the dorsal fin,” Ms Kosch said. “If anyone comes across one of these tags, there is a phone number on the tag and it would be greatly appreciated if people reported they had caught – and released – any of these fish.”
The Mid-Goulburn River Project is funded by the Victorian Government’s Securing Priority Waterways – On Ground Works Program.
For more information about the project, phone Sue Kosch on 5736 0100 or visit www.gbcma.vic.gov.au
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A greener west for better in health in Melbourne
Greening the West, an initiative that aims to improve the health and liveability of residents in Melbourne’s western suburbs through increased urban greening, continues to gather pace.
The vision of the Greening the West initiative is to enable sustainable, liveable, healthy communities through urban greening and its Steering Committee has developed a regional strategic plan to help them do just that. The initiative is being delivered as a partnership between City West Water, nine local councils, three water businesses and eight government agencies and representatives from across the community.
Following the launch of the initiative’s Strategic Plan in November last year, the program has already rolled out a number of pilot projects across the western metropolitan region. The plan has been recognised by a number of key policy documents including Plan Melbourne, Melbourne’s Water Future and the Victorian State of the Environment Report. It outlines key goals to maximise urban greening with targets including providing all residents with nearby access to quality open space and doubling tree canopy cover in the western suburbs by 2050.
The Victorian Department of Health has been pivotal to the development of Greening the West. The Department recognises the provision of quality green space that fosters passive and active recreation as a critical strategy to tackle growing lifestyle related health conditions, including obesity and diabetes, which are of major concern within Melbourne’s west.
“Creating more open spaces and planting trees across the west will deliver great benefits to the people living throughout the western suburbs,” said Vince Haining, CEO, Maribyrnong City Council. “We’re proud to be taking part in the Greening the West strategy.”
Pilot projects been supported by the Greening the West initiative include an eco-masterplan for Footscray Primary School, as well as tree planting at 23 sites across the western metropolitan area, including golf courses, schools, university campuses, an abattoir and Werribee Zoo.
A project working group also has its sights on an iconic project for the west – the greening of Geelong Road to emulate the many tree-lined boulevards, such as Royal Parade in Parkville. The benefits of this project are more than aesthetic, with Geelong Road transecting suburbs such as Brooklyn, where air quality has been typically poor and vegetation can help minimise the impact of dust and other airborne pollutants.
City West Water’s role in Greening the West is to facilitate and enable projects to move from concept to reality, working closely with project partners. From here, the initiative will continue to engage communities of the western suburbs to explore opportunities to increase urban greening in the western metropolitan area. A new website greeningthewest.org.au will be launched in the coming months to begin this important conversation. For more information contact email@example.com.< PreviousNext >
Greasy Partnership Benefits Community
Yarra Valley Water and Maroondah City Council have joined forces to benefit the community and prevent environmental spills into the local environment.
According to Pat McCafferty, Managing Director Yarra Valley Water, greasy waste generated by food handling businesses can cause sewage spills due to blockages if not effectively managed.
“We are working together with Maroondah City Council to educate and assist food businesses to manage their greasy waste. Not managing waste in the right way can impact public health and the environment, not to mention our customers businesses and their livelihoods. If a spill occurs the smell and mess in the shop and surrounding environment can result in huge clean-up costs and loss of business,” said Mr McCafferty.
“During their food safety inspections Maroondah Environmental Health Officers check that food businesses have a Grease Trap and a maintenance certificate for it. If there is no Grease Trap or evidence of maintenance, Yarra Valley Water will be notified so we can help the customer better manage their greasy waste,” he said.
“Most food businesses need to have a Trade Waste Agreement and have an annual council health inspection, so it made sense to work with the council.”
Following the successful pilot with Maroondah City Council the program will be rolled out across the Yarra Valley Water area.
“The build-up of fats and oils can cause significant damage to our pipes and infrastructure on the way to our sewage treatment plants. Responsible management of greasy waste will minimise spending on cleaning up unnecessary mess and repairing damage to the sewer system; this will help keep prices down for all our customers,” said Mr McCafferty.
The pilot program has been two years in the making, beginning with a jointly developed survey to find out what the businesses already knew about greasy waste and their responsibilities. The extensive evidence based research was collected by Environmental Health Officers at every food business within the Maroondah area.
“The consultation with local food businesses has helped both Maroondah City Council and Yarra Valley Water to gain a greater insight into their needs, especially where business owners have little knowledge of greasy waste. One of the many benefits of this partnership has been the development of educational materials to help our business owners get a better understanding of how to best manage their greasy waste,” said Mr McCafferty.
Maroondah Mayor, Councillor Les Willmott said it’s great to see Yarra Valley Water and Council work together to develop an innovative program to improve greasy waste management across the City.
“This initiative has created a better linkage between Yarra Valley Water, Council and business owners and as a result will help to avoid costly blockages and future spills that impact the entire community,” said Cr Willmott.
John Lewis of Barclay’s Café Heathmont said, “Having a trade waste agreement and a grease trap protects our business and our local shopping precinct and community. It’s an important responsibility and establishes our relationship with Yarra Valley Water. We don’t want our pipes clogging up and spilling into or around our business. Using the grease trap ensures we dispose of our greasy waste to an appropriate waste facility”.
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The future role of algae in the Water Industry
Algae seen by many in the water industry as a risk to their objectives: clean, safe drinking water production as well as effective wastewater treatment. As more research is undertaken into algae and algae management, benefits to the industry are beginning to be realised. Over the past four months, East Gippsland Water (EGW) undertook investigations into this area under the direction of a biologist undertaking her Master degree from Pau University, France.
Algae can produce various natural pigments and lipids for the food and cosmetics industries. Algae are also emerging as a renewable resource. Of greatest interest to EGW is its ability to strip phosphorus from wastewater as well as a biofuel and biogas for energy generation.
At EGW’s Bairnsdale wastewater treatment plant, waste water is collected from the catchment including the Bairnsdale stock yards. The stock yard waste is nutrient-rich. Prior to discharge to the environment, the treatment lagoon contains remaining nutrient content and the presence of algae organisms. A bench-top experiment was undertaken to determine if improved effluent quality could be achieved.
The experiment was commissioned by using the treatment lagoon water and the cattle saleyard effluent as an extra nutrient feedstock. Two different batches were done: one with only the lagoon water and the second, a mix of cattle saleyard and water lagoon. This experiment was run over 20 days and showed a significant decrease of the phosphate concentration in the same time of an increase of the optical density, presumably due to algae development.
It was also observed that the phosphate is at low concentration at the end of the experiments and the optical density (demonstrating algae density) decrease. This demonstrates that algae will start to die when phosphate is no longer available. It is important to note, that when the algae dies, the phosphate will be re-release thereby making the algae harvesting process important or by adding extra feedstock to keep the algae culture alive. The harvesting of the algae can be used to supplement existing gas generation following the dewatering of the algae.
To confirm this ability of nutrient removing, further experiments will be required to be undertaken several times and in outdoor and indoor conditions.
During the investigations, options were also investigated into harvesting of the algae from a raceway with subsequent dewatering and generate power. These investigations demonstrated that viability was only achieved when very large raceways were employed. Irrespective, EGW is currently refurbishing their old digester as well as purchasing a combined heat and power (CHP) unit and will be looking for future options to utilise algae to reduce phosphorous content in water and utilise the material to generate sustainable power.< PreviousNext >
Environmental offsets study outcomes flow to US
A Western Water-led project to develop an environmental offsets framework for regulatory compliance in waterways could be replicated in the United States.
Academics and students from the US and Melbourne converged on Jacksons Creek, north-west of Melbourne, last month to observe the Water Quality Offsets Framework study in action.
The project aims to understand the full cost of meeting environmental standards set by the EPA Victoria, and explore alternative options where it can be proven they will result in equal or improved environmental outcomes.
“The study will identify the main stressors to Jacksons Creek, and the impact of recycled water releases,” Western Water’s Managing Director, Neil Brennan, says.
“Offset measures to reduce the primary stressors to the creek will be identified and assessed to measure their cost-effectiveness and community value,” he says.
“This will allow us to compare those measures to treatment plant upgrades or recycled water scheme extensions.”
The University of Melbourne’s Centre for Aquatic Pollution and Management (CAPIM) is working on an aquatic ecosystem assessment as part of the study.
“Scientists from multiple disciplines are applying new technologies to assess the health of the creek,” CAPIM’s Chief Executive Officer, Associate Professor Vincent Pettigrove, says.
“By identifying priority pollution issues in the catchment, we are able to assist management agencies to develop effective and efficient environmental outcomes.”
Academics at the University of California Irvine’s Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE) will also be involved in the ecosystem assessment.
“This is an innovative project with international interest,” PIRE’s Principal Investigator, Professor Stanley Grant, says. “We are interested in how it works and applying the same approach to water quality programs in the US.”
The $430,000 study is funded by the State Government’s Smart Water Fund, the University of Melbourne’s Carlton Connect Fund and Western Water, with support from Wannon Water, Coliban Water, Central Highlands Water and Gippsland Water.
It is being carried out in consultation with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), Department of Environment and Primary Industry (DEPI), Melbourne Water and the wider Victorian water industry.
The American scientists are visiting Australia as part of a $4.9 million project to foster US/Australian collaborative research on water supply and water quality, funded by the US National Science Foundation.< PreviousNext >
End of an Era for 1920’S Water Main
Yarra Valley Water were recently runners up at the CCF Earth Awards 2014 for a project replacing a significant piece of ageing water main crossing the Alamein railway line east of Melbourne. A condition assessment revealed the 2200 metre water main pipe, originally constructed in 1929 with riveted wrought iron plates, was in poor condition. The usually 6mm thick pipe was only 2.6mm thick in parts meaning parts of the pipe needed immediate replacement. Approximately 25m of deteriorating pipe was replaced with concrete lined mild steel pipe (MSCL).
Project Manager, Evelyn Yung said that if pipe failure had occurred, approximately 30,000 customers, including local businesses would experience water interruptions and the railway line would have potentially been flooded.
“The pipe needed to be replaced before peak demand during the summer, but it was important to avoid disruption to customer supply if possible. To do this the pipeline was isolated by inserting a new valve which allowed the diversion of water supply during construction” Ms Yung said.
The site presented a number of challenges as it was tightly bounded by high voltage power cables, a row of old cypress trees, a busy road bridge, steep embankment, bike track, a popular local café and an Op Shop. The local community were regularly kept informed about the project and its progress.
“As the pipe crosses a major rail line it was crucial to work with Metro Trains and negotiate a 50 hour window for the train shut down. If the work not been completed on time it would have caused major commuter disruption on the following Monday. This narrow window created additional risks and pressure due to the tight time frames and unpredictable Melbourne weather conditions. Critical works were also postponed due to the AFL Grand Final weekend, reducing the buffer period for the project” said Ms Yung.
“To carry out the work safely two Franner Cranes were used on the side of the road bridge and under the high voltage cables for lifting to eliminate the risks of intruding into the power line no-go zone and damaging the cypress trees. A scaffold-supported platform was also used instead of a boom lift under the pipe to support the structure. This provided unrestricted access for the site crew and various trades to carry out their works concurrently but safely and efficiently.
The work was part of an ongoing commitment to improve water infrastructure in our service area. We know that to keep providing a good service to customers we need to regularly maintain and upgrade infrastructure such as the pipes and pumps delivering that service. By installing a new modern pipe once the old one had reached the end of its operational life we are investing in the future of a reliable water supply for the area” said Ms Yung.
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New interactive 3D house shows customers virtual water use and savings
For the first time, South East Water customers can custom-build an online, 3D, interactive house and garden featuring all of their water appliances to calculate water use and identify savings.
Geoff’s Water Discovery HQ offers a suite of water-wise hints and money saving tips. With online calculators and information on water appliance costs and savings, users can design a personal water use plan with the click of a button.
“It’s not always easy to see where we use the most water in our homes – this is a novel step towards community awareness and education about wise water use. Customers can identify small changes for big savings,” said South East Water General Manager Customer and Business Futures Dr Hamish Reid.
In the virtual-world provided, customers can gauge real savings by comparing water appliances with different efficiency ratings. By comparing a top loader washing machine to a front loader, customers could potentially use up to 50 per cent less water.
“It’s very cool – you can put in so much detail to see where every drop of water and every cent is going. The site shows you how much money you could be saving just by making changes to your appliances like changing your toilet to a dual flush or changing your shower head – the savings can be surprising,” said Dr Reid.
For more information on household water appliances with improved water efficiency, ‘Geoff’s smart tips’, rainwater tank systems and rebates visit www.geoffswaterdiscovery.com.au< PreviousNext >
Irrigation system is all about efficiency
Water and labour efficiency are the aims of Fraser Pogue’s entire irrigation system.
It’s why the Ardmona farmer changed from a traditional flood irrigation system to centre pivots and sub-surface drip systems and it’s why he was keen to have his delivery upgraded through Goulburn-Murray Water’s Connections Project.
The Pogue family run 440ha of fully irrigated land at Ardmona, growing corn in the summer and wheat, barley, canola and faba beans in the winter.
Three centre pivots irrigate about 150ha, a further 120ha is sub-surface drip irrigation and the remaining flood irrigated.
“For our farm it’s all about water efficiency and labour efficiency,” Mr Pogue said.
“With these more efficient irrigation methods we can grow more summer crops.
“This summer the pivots and SDI grew approximately 2.4t of corn per ML, whereas the flood was only about 1.6t/ML.
“The labour efficiencies with the new systems mean that we can now pretty much irrigate our entire farm through summer, which would have been almost impossible with our old flood system.”
The Pogue’s upgraded irrigation system was commissioned about 14 months ago.
Two wheels were replaced with two automated meters and 1.5km of spur channel and 800m on on-farm channel were replaced with pipe.
“We’ve seen increased flow rates with one gate going from about 7ML/day to 10ML/day and the other from about 10ML/day to 20ML/day.” he said.
“We’ve also seen labour savings, with the spur channels it was a lot of work managing them, I certainly don’t have to put on my gumboots that often anymore.
“We used to have to put an order in, manually open and close gates and run through about 800m of the neighbour’s property, now it’s all automated we just put in an order and it manages itself.
“It’s certainly made life so much easier.”
Goulburn-Murray Water’s (GMW) Connections Project is connecting landowners to the backbone.
The water corporation is investing more than $2 billion from the State and Federal governments to improve the delivery of water to irrigation businesses across the Goulburn-Murray irrigation district.
GMW managing director Gavin Hanlon said a key benefit to the project was water savings.
“GMW’s Connections Project aims to increase irrigation water use efficiency,” Mr Hanlon said.
“GMW’s water savings are independently audited each year with the results submitted to both the State and Federal Governments via the Department of Environment and Primary Industries.”
GMW currently operates and maintains more than 6300km of channel and about 24,000 outlets and meters.
When the Connections Project is complete in 2018 it expects to operate about 3500km of channels supplying water to about 12,000 irrigation outlets.
For more information go to www.gmwconnectionsproject.com.au< PreviousNext >
Branding biosolids products
Manufacturing biosolids products for particular end-markets and actively educating the public and industry of the potential benefits of biosolids land application is paramount in sustainable management of biosolids.
The Water Environment Federation’s (WEF) elaborate effort in 1990 (Rampton, 2002) to rename sewage sludge as biosolids to win public acceptance for the beneficial use of biosolids, is a good example of re-branding a product category. Leveraging this move, a number of individual products within this category have since been branded and re-launched, mainly in the United States, for example:
- Dillo Dirt (a composted biosolids product) in Austin, Texas
- Milorganite (pure biosolids product) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- Tagro (a composted biosolids product) in Tacoma, Washington
- Loop (pure biosolids product) in King County, Washington
For example, Loop is the brand name for the Class B biosolids (equivalent to T3C2 grade in Victoria) produced at treatment plants operated by the King County Wastewater Treatment Division (KCWTD) servicing the Seattle metropolitan area in US (Mendrey, 2013). To drive awareness of the brand, in distributing Loop, KCWTD has 10 transport trucks with colourful Loop logos, which carry about 31 wet tonnes of Loop to cropping areas and forestland every day. Loop (about 5% of annual production) is also mixed with sawdust from local lumber mills and then composted for over a year to produce compost which has been branded GroCoTM.
Also in the United States, the Morris Forman Water Quality Treatment Centre (MFWQTC) operated by the Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) has been actively marketing biosolids since 2004 (Bates, 2013). MFWQTC utilises anaerobic digestion, Dissolved Air Flotation Thickening, high solids centrifuges and rotary drum drying systems to produce Class A biosolids (Bates, 2013). In 2012, 99% of the biosolids generated on-site were distributed as Louisville Green. Between 2004 and 2009, MSD used market and customer research to identify three critical product specifications which would maximise the end-use potential for Louisville Green (Bates, 2013). The specifications identified were size, capture and density. The identification of key product specifications enabled Louisville Green to adapt the product to meet the requirements of multiple markets and eliminated the need to produce different product variations.
In the United Kingdom, United Utilities Water in collaboration with Cranfield University has developed a novel method of blending mineral fertilisers with sewage sludge, to overcome the classic problems associated with variable nutrient content and imbalances in N/P ratio in the biosolids. The resultant branded biosolids product is an organo-mineral fertiliser called SMART-PTM (Deeks et al. 2013).
Closer to home, Bioboost in New Zealand (New Plymouth’s Wastewater Treatment Plant) is the American equivalent of Milorganite.
In the New South Wales (NSW) market there is only one pure biosolids product, BioSoil which is now marketed by Australian Native Landscapes (ANL). Originally, this product achieved market status through Sydney Water when their land application program was developed in the early 1990s. Currently, the ANL and BetterGrow companies in NSW have a couple of blended biosolids products in the NSW market. BioSoil is applied in field under NSW biosolids guidelines, whereas the blended (composted) biosolids products have to comply with the Fertilisers Act 1985 and Fertilisers Amendment Act 1999.
In Victoria, with a diversity of biosolids products available, branding would give the ability to communicate the differences or similarities in the products to meet specific customer needs and specifications. Branding can also enable water corporations to reinforce the sustainability of biosolids as a renewable resource and help biosolids producers communicate the truth about various products in a consistent way (Mendrey, 2013).
The Royal Melbourne Zoo is already producing a branded compost product from its animal manure and visitor and horticultural wastes. Zoo Gro is produced through a commercial partnership whereby the zoo’s organic wastes are composted onsite and distributed to a commercial composter. The commercial partner then converts the compost into the Zoo Gro product that is suitable for use as a soil conditioner or organic fertiliser. The zoo receives a royalty for every bag sold.
Despite the challenges of re-using organic waste from a zoo and biosolids from a treatment plant being significantly different, this example demonstrates what can be achieved by taking a more commercial approach developed through commercial partnerships. The Zoo Gro brand celebrates the source of its waste to make it more attractive to the consumer. This positions the product differently to other soil amendments in the market. Furthermore, the consumer’s affinity for the zoo creates brand loyalty for Zoo Gro through the money that is returned to the zoo when they purchase a bag. This philosophy could be extended to branded biosolids products which return profits (or portions of their profit) to local communities for every tonne sold.
At present, there are three branded biosolids products in Victoria:
- BioMac – thermally dried pelletised biosolids from Ballarat North Waste Water Plant (Knight and Crafter, 2009).
- XLPrill – thermally dried pelletised biosolids from Barwon Water’s plant at Connewarre near Torquay in the Geelong region.
- Revive Recycled Compost – composted biosolids product from Soil and Organic Recycling Facility (SORF) at Dutson Downs in the Gippsland region.
All these three branded biosolids products currently marketed in Victoria are blended products. They are blended with either minerals fertilisers, animal manures or composted organics in order to ameliorate higher contamination grades and to achieve marketability. All three branded biosolids products are being marketed by private operators. It will be challenging for the Victorian branded biosolids products to compete in the agricultural market against animal manures and conventional fertilisers due to differences in the readily available nutrients.
Irrespective of the branding approach, it is imperative that any branded biosolids products are supported by sound science, to eliminate any stigma consumers may have to a product that is sourced from human waste. The fact remains that consumers are not well informed about the improved treatment technologies resulting in high quality biosolids products. Even though land application of biosolids in general is among the most extensively researched and studied practices in the US (http://www.loopforyoursoil.com/the-science) and to some extent in Australia (e.g. CSIRO’s National Biosolids Research Program trials), specific published research on the recently developed above three biosolids products in Victoria is scant.
To address this, and to enable these products to be accepted widely and compete with more traditional substitutes (inorganic fertilisers, chicken manure etc.), field scale trials using these products to mimic realistic farming scenarios will be necessary. Of note is a recent paper by Deeks et al (2013) that assessed the agronomic effectiveness of a novel nutrient balanced biosolids product (SMART-PTM) in comparison with conventional mineral fertilisers. This is probably the first field scale trial of a modified (fortified) biosolids product that has potential to transform a hitherto waste product into a practical fertiliser product (Deeks et al. 2013).
The other 14 water corporations in Victoria will now need to consider branding their own biosolids.
This article is part of a paper published in the AWA Biosolids and Source Control Conference held in Melbourne in June 2014.
Bates R. 2013. Biosolids Processing and Distribution: Challenges Continue. Proceedings of the 2013 Water Environment Federation Residuals and Biosolids Conference, Nashville. Tennessee, US, 5-8 may 2013.
Deeks LK, Chaney K, Murray C, Sakrabani R, Gedara S, Le MS, Tyrrrel S, Pawlett M, Read R and Smith G. 2013. A new sludge-derived organo-mineral fertiliser gives similar crop yields as conventional fertilisers. Agron. Sustain. Dev. 33:539-549
Mendrey K. 2013. Branding biosolids closes the “Loop”. BioCycle, June 2013, 21:23
Rampton S. 2002. Sludge, biosolids, and the propaganda model of communication. New solutions, Volume 12(4), 347-353.< PreviousNext >
Vision Super: top 5 investment performance
With double digit returns and top rankings in the latest SuperRatings* results, Vision Super has delivered exceptional investment performance to members for the 2013/14 financial year.
The default investment option Balanced Growth option was ranked number 5 out of the 47 funds rated for the financial year to 30 June 2014 with a return of 13.72%, and the top performer was the Balanced Option, which was ranked at number 3 out of 71 funds rated.
These outstanding results solidify Vision Super’s position as one of the best super funds in Australia.
CEO Stephen Rowe says “Vision Super’s investment strategy is focused on providing our members with solid long term performance, and the results speak for themselves – we’re one of Australia’s top performing super funds, and that means more money for our members’ retirements.”
The tables below show Vision Super’s returns for the financial year to 30 June 2014.
For more information on investments visit www.visionsuper.com.au. Members can review and change their investment options through their Vision Online account or by downloading this form. If you have any questions about your investments please contact the Vision Super Member Services team on 03 9911 3222 or 1300 300 820 if you’re calling from a regional area.
*SuperRatings is an independent super research company that reviews and rates more than 450 super & pension products.< PreviousNext >
Strategic Risk Management – Moving Beyond Protection
Risk management practice is now well embedded within the Victorian Water industry acting as a sound governance mechanism and more broadly a decision making framework for corporations to follow. We have become accustomed to recognise that risk management helps protect assets, staff, environment, income streams, community, organisational viability and investments.
However, while “protection” is a critically important aspect of risk management, moving beyond this to an embedded risk focused culture can yield considerable benefits. In particular:
Drives strategic and longer term thinking and increases productivity – Risk management, by its very nature, is focused on looking into the future. This concept moves our perspectives from reactive issue management towards a proactive approach which will help prevent issues from occurring in the first place. We move away from the “management by crisis” approach.
Consistent decision making – Our view of risk and what level of risk is acceptable varies greatly from individual to individual. It is based on a broad range of factors including level of knowledge, prior experience and culture. By clearly defining how risks are to be assessed within the organisation and how much risk is or is not acceptable, we are able to create a common view of risk. This common view helps ensure exposures of significance are dealt with consistently by the organisation.
Improved Resource Allocation – By comparing or contrasting individual organisational risks and the level of investment that is made towards mitigating risk exposure, we can quickly identify areas where we have over and under invested in risk mitigation. This comparison helps drive discussions regarding whether it is possible to shift resources or investment away from potentially over controlled areas to those requiring greater attention.
We must embed risk based thinking and culture into organisational activities. To gauge whether risk management processes are effective and adopted, we can ask a range of key questions:
- Are we using risk management practices to support corporate and strategic decisions?
- Have we clearly defined what level of risk our organisation is willing to accept or tolerate?
- Do risk management practices support and guide the way we run our operations?
- Do we accurately consider the impact of controls or future treatments on the level of risk?
- Are we comfortable that the controls implemented are reducing the risk as expected?
- Is our risk management process too complex and can only be truly understood by expert risk practitioners?
- Do our staff value the risk management process?
- Have we gone overboard and our risk management has become an administrative burden?
Considering the above questions, we believe there are always opportunities to continue to mature risk management practices. Our broad advice is to keep risk management simple as this allows for broader application and greater organisational buy in. Consistent integration with other organisational activities such as capital expenditure planning, internal audit, water quality, dam management, etc is essential.
Michal Jozwik (Director Pitcher Partners). Michal works with half of the Victorian Water Industry in providing Risk Management and Internal Audit services.< PreviousNext >
Arresting Cost Leakage with e-Procurement
The water industry has undergone some radical changes in recent times. In response to one of the largest droughts ever experienced in this country, the construction of desalination plants in our four largest states has subsequently seen an increase in procurement activity.
In addition, the Fairer Water Bills initiative has highlighted the need to find efficiencies wherever possible. As companies look at ways to lower the costs they pass onto consumers, every process has understandably come under review.
Dean Armstrong, Victorian-based Australasian Business Development Manager for e-Procurement company TenderLink, said these increased demands have changed the conversation when dealing with water organisations considering a shift to online procurement toolsets.
“Previously, we spent most of our time discussing the benefits of adopting a specialised, online procurement system like TenderLink,” he said. “But now the benefits are widely understood and the conversation has shifted to how they can achieve better outcomes, more efficiently, but in a manner that also embeds governance, transparency and probity within their day-to-day procurement activities.”
When using a fit-for-purpose digital procurement solution, every step taken in the procurement process creates a digital footprint, leaving an audit trail and thus ensuring greatly increased probity and transparency. And for companies looking to find every available process efficiency, moving to a digital solution greatly reduces time consuming administrative tasks, enabling them to focus on higher-value procurement activities.
One organisation leading the way with the adoption of digital procurement toolsets is NSW-based Local Government Procurement (LGP) which negotiates state-wide supply contracts for local councils across the state.
To establish these contracts, LGP uses a number of online procurement toolsets. In particular, they use a web-based e-Procurement portal from TenderLink to publish tenders, manage the tendering process itself and evaluate bid responses, thus effectively creating group buying power for councils, plus saving them the time, money and effort of having to do this on an individual basis.
While it is hard to put an exact figure on the administrative cost savings, LGP estimates that a 35 per cent cost reduction in administering the tender process can be achieved when using a specialised electronic system.
With the Victorian water industry flooded with competition, cost reduction matters. And with the efficiencies offered by online procurement toolsets, it stands to reason that their adoption is worthy of serious consideration.< PreviousNext >