From the CEO
Welcome to the Winter 2015 edition of Water Matters. What a remarkable year the 2014-15 year has been. It has marked a year of significant change in the Victorian water industry and has highlighted the continuing important role that VicWater has in bringing the industry together on important issues.
We welcomed no less than five new MDs to the sector during this period and further to that, the last four years has seen a turnover of nearly 60% of MDs, with the majority of former MD’s retiring. This coupled with what is likely to be significant change in water corporation board directors, means VicWater’s role of keeping our members informed and connected and working to facilitate industry collaboration in both government policy and industry projects has never been more relevant.
The past year has brought about significant change to the sector and the coming year shows no sign of those changes abating. We have seen changes in water sector leadership, a change of government and changes in policy. It is important for the water industry to continue to champion the interests of our customers throughout this change process. After all, history shows that change that does not have the customer’s interests central to it will be short lived, as customers will seek to engage politically to deliver outcomes better aligned with their needs.
VicWater continues to make significant submissions to government on a range of matters such as the State Environment Protection Policy (Water of Victoria), Economic Regulation, ESC Price Review, Safe Drinking Water Regulations, Infrastructure in Roads Regulations, Water Industry Training Policy, Unconventional Gas and Domestic Waste Water Management Planning – click here to view VicWater submissions.
VicWater was also heavily involved in the review of the Asbestos Regulations and their application to Asbestos Cement Pipes, the decision of the Victorian Building Authority to cease inspections of recycled water connections, Statutory Asset Revaluation, Development of the Model Accounts for the Industry, Native Vegetation Code, EPA Industrial Waste Regulations and Biosolids Improvement Plans and the proposed changes to the EPA’s 30a emergency discharges licence.
The VicWater Leadership Development Award continues to attract high calibre emerging leaders and the 2015 winner was Mr Nathan Epp from Goulburn Valley Water. Nathan worked on a number of important projects during his time with Scottish Water Horizons and from reports from Andrew Macdonald, Head of Horizons, he proved himself to be a worthwhile asset to them and a fantastic ambassador for VicWater and the wider Victorian water industry. By the time this Water Matters is published Nathan will have finished his placement at Scottish Water Horizons. He will then be jetting his way to Abu Dhabi where he will receive personal tours of a number of impressive water saving projects there. He then flies home to present to the industry at the 2015 VicWater Conference on 10 September, where he will share his learnings from his wonderful experience.
Talking about our upcoming Conference, due to the Minister’s attendance at the dinner on 10th September registrations remain open. Contact Fiona Ould on (03) 9639 8868 as soon as possible to register your attendance or register online
Water industry directors have indicated concerns over their ability to commit to the conference due to the timing of the director appointment process. VicWater is happy to work with water corporations to transfer registrations from one delegate to another if required.
Our Conference will be held over 10 and 11 September at The Langham in Southbank. This year we have trialled the introduction of a water corporation tour on 9 September being run by South East Water. Finally, 2015 is the 20th anniversary of VicWater’s incorporation, as such we have planned a very special celebratory dinner on 10 September which includes Minister Neville’s attendance, so be sure to secure a seat at what will be a wonderful celebration of the Victorian water industry.
VicWater was very pleased to work with the IWA to support “The Biggest Ever (Laurie Gleeson) Dinner” which raised over $70,000 for prostate cancer research.
In closing, a project that is set to deliver significant efficiencies for the sector in 2015-16 is the Victorian water industry collaborative procurement project. The industry is committed to exploring and in turn realising real, significant and most importantly sustainable efficiencies through the application of category based strategic sourcing solutions. VicWater is facilitating this project on behalf of the industry and it will be headed by Mr. Satvik Gangavarapu who has been employed as the Procurement Project Director. Satvik commenced on 27 July and is based in our offices.< PreviousNext >
VicWater Annual Conference
The 2015 VicWater Annual Conference, themed “20/20 Vision; lessons from the past, ideas from the future” is drawing near and we are pleased to inform you that The Hon Lisa Neville, Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water will be joining us at the main Conference dinner on 10th September.
Minister Neville will be part of the celebrations to recognise VicWater’s 20th anniversary and is participating in the interviews planned for the night. Those attending the main Conference dinner will hear from individuals from the sector, both past and present, to celebrate and recognise the sector’s rich and successful history and growth and how VicWater has shared in that history and growth. Minister Neville will contribute her views on where the sector should direct its attention, helping to shape the vision for the Victorian water industry.
Also worth mentioning is a fantastic free full-day tour that has been organised by South East Water for 9 September. Attendees will visit the Mount Martha Treatment Plant, the Peninsula ECO project and will tour DELWPs Emergency Control Centre. Click here to view the full itinerary.
We understand that the announcement of Minister Neville’s attendance at the Conference dinner is likely to generate interest in registering for the dinner and perhaps the full Conference or the tour so we have reopened registrations.
Don’t miss out on your opportunity to be part of Minister Neville’s first whole sector appearance. Registrations are now being accepted until Sunday 6th September 2015.
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2015 Finance Conference
The 2015 Finance Conference was held on Thursday 28 and Friday 29 May at the Ballarat Lodge and Convention Centre. With a theme of “Pushing the Efficiency Envelope”, the conference was launched by Tony Kelly and Robert Kay who reinforced the two-pronged nature of efficiency and innovation: (1) continually exploiting efficiencies within the current paradigm, whilst (2) exploring opportunities to transform the paradigm with new technologies and ways of doing business.
A number of quality international and domestic case studies were a highlight of the event, including:
- Jono Brent, the CEO of Connetics – the Christchurch (NZ) electricity infrastructure owner, had been in the role three weeks before the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. He described Connetics’ immediate response to the disaster and how the earthquake is continuing to shape perspectives on infrastructure resilience and asset investment years later.
- Robyn Clarke, Central Highlands Water, described their Emerging Leaders Program that is saving money on recruitment and establishing a pipeline of future water industry leaders.
- Rod Naylor, Veolia, has recently returned from restructuring water utilities’ operations in New York and around the USA. His presentation provided numerous insights into the (common or contrasting) challenges faced by water utilities in the USA. As the last speaker of the event, he also took the opportunity to link the key messages of his presentation to those before him.
- Steven Lambert, Wyndham City Council, presented an innovative approach to building and operating infrastructure. Wyndham City has recently opened a new aquatic and leisure centre called AquaPulse. The creation of a wholly-owned subsidiary business to build and operate AquaPlulse was identified as the most efficient and low-risk approach.
- Dan Hunter, Sydney Water, described the recent refinancing of the Sydney Desalination Plant that delivered a $500m profit to the NSW Government, in addition to retiring the debt.
The conference also includes opportunities for government partners and associates to share relevant updates to water corporation finance managers, including:
- Roberta Skliros (VAGO) discussed the upcoming year end audit process
- Gordon Thomson (PwC) presented the Puddle Account which had been published earlier in May
- Marcus Crudden (ESC) shared insights into the Water Pricing Review and the next water plan process
- Noelle Kelleher (Vision Super) provided an update on the defined benefit scheme
- Stuart Wilson (WSAA) presented recent outputs of the WSAA Economic regulation & performance benchmarking project.
The conference continues to provide a critical forum for learning, networking and collaboration by over 100 finance personnel from the Victorian water industry and its partners.< PreviousNext >
I am the Managing Director of Goulburn Murray Water (GMW).
I live in Toolamba, a small town 15 minutes from Shepparton in North East Victoria. I have a wife Melissa and two beautiful children Mac and Erin. My interests include long distance running, football and spending time with my family when I am not working.
5 years of financial management, governance, economic regulation and business performance experience obtained in senior positions in infrastructure and infrastructure advisory businesses in Australia and internationally. More recently I have held CFO positions in Government owned, publicly listed and privately held water and electricity distribution businesses.
Water industry experience – how long you have worked in the industry and any previous experience in the industry?
Before being appointed MD to GMW I held the position of CFO of GMW for 4 years.
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 key strategic issues facing GMW are:
- Water Resource (climate, Murray Darling Basin Plan and implications for a sustainable agricultural industry
- The Connections Project and long term sustainability of the GMID (and GMW)
I am appreciative of the support provided by the industry.
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Satvik Gangavarapu - New VicWater Employee
I have been employed as the Procurement Project Director (Water Supply Chain).
I am married with a daughter and have a new member on the way.
I enjoy Adventure Sports: Defensive Driving, Deep Sea Diving, Sky Diving.
My Interests: Reading, Economic Research, Wine and Food, Tennis, V8s & Grand Prix, Occasional Wood Work.
Water industry experience – how long you have worked in the industry and any previous experience in the industry?
For some time now, through ongoing roles and consulting assignments with VicWater, Urban Utilities, Power and Water Corporation.
What VicWater group(s) do you participate in?
- Inter Departmental Committee
- MD’s Steering Committee
- Various Project Steering Committees
- Intelligent Water Networks
This is my fourth week with VicWater, and some additions to this list can be expected.
What value does your involvement in the VicWater group(s) bring to you personally and your employer?
- Personally – Working with a dynamic industry, specifically Victoria’s rural, urban and metro water corporations.
- Employer – Greater capability to strategise, innovate, and align external operating environments to work with the Victorian Water Industry towards tactical and long term sustainability.
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.
Cohesive thinking around commercial, technological, political and ecological challenges facing the water industry in its path to building sustainability.
Anything else you want to add:
I am here to help Water Corporations and the Victorian Water Industry in their efforts, to establish a progressive path to sustainability.
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‘Biggest Ever’ Laurie Gleeson Dinner raises $70,000
The inaugural Biggest Ever Laurie Gleeson Dinner has been hailed a success after the event raised $70,000 for the Australian Prostate Cancer Foundation.
Victoria’s 19 water authorities joined forces to host the Dinner in honour of water industry stalwart Laurie Gleeson OAM, who passed away from prostate cancer in January this year.
The event, which coincided with Mens Health Week, included guest speakers Sam Kekovich, Terry Daniher, Eloise Southby, Dr Bernie Crimmins and Simon Madden. Laurie’s wife Lois was also a feature speaker at the event and talked about the challenges and impact prostate cancer has on families.
The event, held in conjunction with the Institute of Water Administration conference, was sponsored by EcoCatlyst, Vision Super, Goulburn Valley Water, Integrity Governance, Coliban Water and Marsden Jacobs & Associates.
Dinner organising committee Chair and MD of Western Water Neil Brennan, said it was the first time the water industry had come together to raise funds for the cause.
Around 500 water industry colleagues, suppliers, contractors and consultants attended the dinner at Etihad Stadium on 25 June.
“Along with the financial success of the night I hope that the message got through to everyone in attendance is that men shouldn’t feel embarrassed about having a regular prostate health check regardless of how busy they may be.
Laurie’s wife Lois Gleeson reinforced the message but also urged all women to get the men in their lives to have a regular prostate health check.
Neil said Laurie had known of the plan to organise the dinner and he would have been delighted with its success.
“It’s a serious topic but the speakers we had on the night presented it in such an entertaining and humorous way, I am sure many of the attendees were reduced to tears from laughing throughout the night,” Neil said.
“So many attendees also secured a terrific raffle prize or silent auction bid which had been kindly donated by businesses our industry supply water to”.
Laurie was Managing Director of Goulburn Valley Water for 28 years and was highly regarded as an innovative industry leader. He championed the annual Biggest Ever Blokes lunch in Shepparton to raise funds for prostate cancer so it was a fitting tribute to him to hold this event.
“The event was a great success and we’re now planning to make our annual IWA June conference dinner open to industry colleagues, friends and partners so that we can use this opportunity to raise funds for the Australian Prostate Cancer Foundation,” Neil said.
Below are images from the night:
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WaterAid Charity Golf Day
Vertical Matters is proud to be supporting Melbourne’s 2015 WaterAid golf charity day on the 13th November 2015.
To raise as much as we can for WaterAid, we’re getting sponsors involved and we’d like you to register your interest in having a game with members of the Victorian Civil and Construction industry.< PreviousNext >
When Uni Takes a Break, Students Get to Work
City West Water has run a successful vacation placement program for University students, for many years, and in summer 2014-15, 15 students were able to gain valuable practical experience to add to their academic studies. Every year, around 400 students apply for vacation placement positions, and following an exhaustive selection and interview process, students begin their placement in early December.
Successful applicants begin their placement with a familiarisation tour of City West Water’s facilities. The induction process is seen as a critical success factor of the program – settling the new employees into the workplace, covering OH&S requirements and introducing processes, procedures and the company’s toolset.
Students are placed in a range of areas across the business including asset management, projects, operations, alternative water, water innovations, land development, community programs – just to name a few. At the end of the placement, students deliver detailed presentations about their work placement, to fellow students, their supervisors, and managers at City West Water. Following the 2015 presentations, City West Water’s General Manager of Engineering, Matthew Giesemann, remarked that “the quality of the work of our vacation students is truly amazing and City West Water is the richer for committing to this program”.
Standout examples City West Water’s vacation program include:
- Karl Blackhall, a 2nd year Mathematics student at RMIT, was tasked with analysing residential meter test results and developed an algorithm for detecting defective water meters. From Karl’s work City West Water developed the CheckMATE program for defective meter detection. Three years on, Stuart Roberts, an Honours student in Mathematics tackled the same issue for non-residential customers. He was assisted on the project by Alysha Edmonds, who herself had been a vacation student before completing her Masters, and another vacation student, Rory Burnham. Rory combined data from multiple sources and applied data analytics to accurately determine the true business type of the 40,000 business customers. Karl, Alysha and Stuart have all completed their studies and now work in the Operations Research section of Engineering.
- In December 2014, Yansheng Ming, a PhD student studying at ANU, used image processing techniques to measure tree canopy cover across six western municipalities as part of the Greening the West initiative. This work will be used each year on new aerial photographs to measure improvements in tree canopy cover.
- Anne Lorrigan, a Masters student in Environmental Engineering at the University of Melbourne, worked in a cross-departmental team and developed modules for stormwater harvesting and irrigation demand for public open space. Her modules form part of an integrated water cycle modelling tool being developed.
- Michael Mola, was studying 3rd year Environmental Engineering at RMIT when he joined the Project Delivery section in November 2012 to experience project management first hand. Michael is now working at CWW and is also studying part-time for a Master of Engineering in Project Management at the University of Melbourne.
Quotes from some of the students involved in the program:
Yansheng Ming “The problem I had was delightfully challenging. It inspired me to go beyond the existing literature and to develop novel methods to solve the problem. Other staff gave me tremendous support and guidance.”
Rebecca Kendall “(my placement was) very valuable, something university can’t teach”
Michael Mola “During my placement I was exposed to a range of aspects within project management – tendering, contracts, procurement, stakeholder engagement, construction management and reporting requirements.”
Alysha Edmonds “(my placement was) a fantastic learning opportunity for me to use the knowledge gained from university and a great introduction to working in the water industry”
City West Water goes to great effort to ensure the student vacation program provides multiple benefits – providing students an opportunity for industry based learning, supporting the local community, and enabling innovation to flourish.
City West Water will be advertising for the 2015-16 summer vacation placements in August. Students interested in applying should visit the Careers section at citywestwater.com.au< PreviousNext >
Central Highlands Water Invest $1.5m in Wilsons Reservoir
Central Highlands Water (CHW) has invested $1.5 m in a safety upgrade to Wilsons Reservoir, located approximately 20 kilometres north-east of Ballarat.
Officially acknowledging the investment at Wilsons Reservoir in late May was local MP for Buninyong Geoff Howard representing the Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water Hon. Lisa Neville, CHW Managing Director Paul O’Donohue, as well as representatives from MWH and Entracon who designed and completed the upgrade.
The upgrade included the extension of the outlet pipe and implementation of sand filters, resulting in the fortification and widening of the embankment. An auxiliary spillway was also constructed and the project that began in November 2014 was completed in mid-June this year.
This is a major milestone investment in the region’s future water supply and the first major works the reservoir has received since it was built in 1891. Much of the historical engineering practices were preserved throughout the construction, including the original bluestone spillway and bluestone channel.
An integral asset within the Ballarat water system, Wilsons Reservoir has a capacity of one gigalitre or eight per cent of the regions annual water demand.< PreviousNext >
Partnership Bolsters Digital Journey: Fuji Xerox and South East Water
South East Water has teamed up with Fuji Xerox Document Management Solutions to provide its customers with a new billing system that takes advantage of digital technology (screenshot below).
“For the first time we’ve adopted a mobile first approach, designed an e-bill that looks great and made it interactive and easy to use on smart devices. Our focus is on delivering the best experience for our customers and we’re integrating all of our digital platforms to do so,” said General Manager Customer and Business Futures Dr Hamish Reid.
The water retailer’s digital communication transformation focuses on expanding customer channels and integrating platforms launched in recent years to deliver a seamless customer experience across livechat, customer portals, interactive billing, SEWLive map works and faults and online payment solutions.
The initiative shown in the collaboration sees the water retailer leap frog industry best practice and put into place a communications solution that is at the forefront of the Asian Pacific Marketplace. More importantly, it meets and exceeds customer expectations and maximises engagement.
“Fuji Xerox is excited to be South East Water’s partner on this innovative project. Our core business is to provide our clients the digital expertise and operational processes to take their customer transactions online,” said General Manager VIC & NT Fuji Xerox Mark Bongiorno.
“We are now delivering them for South East Water via their channel of choice in a secure environment. South East Water has shown leadership in this business transformation project by listening to its customers’ needs. The outcome is a sustainable long term and customer centric communications model. This showcases the best of both our organisational capabilities,” said Mr Bongiorno.
Traditional billing has also been improved with efficiency and sustainability at the forefront. More than 3.5 million paper sheets will be saved each year simply through the redesign of the bill based on customer feedback. Research by South East Water showed a majority of customers take less than five minutes to read a bill meaning a window of only a few minutes exists to capture attention and deliver important information.
Dr Reid said “the fundamentals are critical – people, platforms and processes. Customers want consistent service experiences across these channels and they also expect to be able to start an interaction in one channel and complete it in another. Our move to digital channels is about meeting our customers’ growing expectations for this and to bolster their experience.”< PreviousNext >
Water Factory Generates Renewable Energy Interest
Around 50 industry representatives from across Victoria, interstate and overseas visited the innovative Gippsland Water Factory as part of a recent two-day Bioenergy Forum hosted by the Victorian Bioenergy Network and Gippsland Agribusiness.
Among those who attended were representatives from numerous government bodies, other water corporations, private businesses, researchers, consultants, and scientists.
‘We are pleased to see the level of interest in the Gippsland Water Factory from the renewable energy industry and we were very delighted to be part of the forum’s itinerary,’ said Paul Clark, Gippsland Water General Manager Customer Service and Communications.
‘The group was particularly interested in the plant’s capacity to produce 20% of its own electricity needs,’ Mr Clark said.
‘Methane captured from the anaerobic pre-treatment of industrial wastewater and domestic sludges is used to generate 10% of the plant’s electricity in a co-generation unit. A further 10% of electricity is produced through a micro hydro-electric generator built at Pine Gully Reservoir, which is Australian Paper’s raw water source,’ Mr Clark continued.
Liz Hamilton, coordinator of the Victorian Bioenergy Network said the Gippsland Water Factory was one of the highlights of the forum, which focused on bioenergy projects and developments happening within, or relevant to the Gippsland region.
‘We are appreciative of Gippsland Water’s support in taking the time to show us what the Water Factory is all about, especially in terms of its ability to generate some of its own power from such a state-of-the-art facility,’ Ms Hamilton said.
Ms Hamilton said the Victorian Bioenergy Network provides information about bioenergy through events such as the recent forum as well as bioenergy business breakfasts, and aims to enlighten anyone interested in looking to reduce energy costs, utilise waste streams, or explore options for developing renewable energy alternatives.< PreviousNext >
Hydro Vehicle Hastens Western Water Cleanups
Western Water has added a hydro truck to its work fleet, improving the speed and effectiveness of repairs in the field.
The HINO 4×2 Rigid Hydro Excavator truck will replace several existing pieces of equipment, and eliminate the need to hire eductor or hydro excavation trucks.
“Importantly, the new truck will also have some health and safety benefits,” Western Water’s General Manager, Customer and Community Relations, Graham Holt, says.
“Field services staff will be doing less of the type of work that puts them at risk of injury, such as hand digging and working in boggy conditions.”
Other benefits include:
- a reduction in the risk of damaging other services such as power, gas and telecommunications when digging
- reduced clean-up and reinstatement costs at repair sites
- the potential to hire or loan out the truck to other local essential service providers
- long-term cost savings
“Overall, having this truck on hand will provide a big benefit to our customers, who will see water bursts being cleaned up and fixed more quickly and with less disruption,” Mr Holt says.< PreviousNext >
Roof Water Harvesting Project Expanded in Warrnambool
Wannon Water’s multi-award-winning Roof Water Harvesting Project is to be expanded to capture water from the roofs of a new industrial subdivision in Warrnambool’s north east, boosting the city’s drinking water supplies.
The Warrnambool Roof Water Harvesting Project is an innovative concept demonstrating that the roofs of new urban growth areas can generate enough water to meet the water demand needs in those new areas.
The $500,000 project expansion will capture rain water from roofs of buildings to be constructed in the new Horne Road industrial estate and transport it through pipes to Wannon Water’s Dales Road water storages. From there it will be treated and enter the city’s drinking water supply.
In an average rainfall year this will contribute a further 25 million litres of water to boost Warrnambool’s drinking water supplies.
The expansion will complement the Roof Water Harvesting demonstration site in Warrnambool’s north east residential growth corridor, which has been operating successfully since 2011. Eventually the demonstration site will connect an estimated 3,000 homes, contributing 450 million litres of water to the city’s supplies and saving 585 tonnes of carbon emissions annually.
Roof Water Harvesting is a sustainable and cost-effective water supply augmentation option that uses a source of water that would otherwise be lost in run-off. It also reduces energy use and carbon emissions, and significantly reduces stormwater runoff, allowing for costly stormwater infrastructure to be scaled down.
The Roof Water Harvesting Project expansion is expected to be constructed over the 2015/16 summer.< PreviousNext >
Barwon Water has pledged $225,000 to Landcare over the next two years.
The funds will be used for restoring riparian vegetation, preventing stock access to waterways, controlling erosion, managing weeds and pest animals and implementing best-practice property management techniques.
The commitment will take the corporation’s total support of local Landcare and river health initiatives to more than $2 million since 2001.
Southern Otway Landcare Network (Barham River catchment), Upper Barwon Landcare Network (Upper Barwon River catchments) and Moorabool Catchment Landcare Group (Moorabool River catchments) each will receive $75,000 over the next two years.
In addition to the $225,000 for Landcare, Barwon Water has allocated $140,000 for catchment projects through the corporation’s River Health Partnership with the Corangamite CMA.
Major catchment protection work carried out under the partnership program in recent years has included revegetation of 145,000 plants, 35 kilometres of stream frontage protection and 67 hectares of riparian area restoration and enhancement.
The corporation’s commitment to Landcare was recognised at the recent Corangamite Landcare Recognition Awards.< PreviousNext >
One Million Trees Set to Green Melbourne’s West
City West Water proudly facilitates Greening the West, a regional initiative that aims to enable sustainable, liveable, healthy communities through urban greening in Melbourne’s west. Greening the West (GTW) is an alliance of 22 local government, government agencies, industry and community representatives.
GTW actively supports projects and activities that deliver increased vegetation and improve the quality and useability of green spaces for residents. The GTW Steering Committee has committed to a number of regional strategic goals including doubling tree canopy cover in the west by 2050.
In May this year Federal Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt MP, announced the Greening the West alliance had been awarded $5 million to plant one million trees in Melbourne’s west by 30 June 2017.
The 1 Million Trees Project is supported by the Australian Government’s 20 Million Trees Programme (part of the National Landcare Programme). It will bring together community groups, councils, and other organisations from across the west to nominate sites and deliver tree planting with support from LeadWest, a regional advocacy body and City West Water’s Greening the West team.
The project creates a unique opportunity to make substantial, wide-ranging improvements to the region’s liveability and sustainability. Increasing the number of trees in Melbourne’s west will not only add ecological value to parks, creek corridors and open space, but will also deliver real benefits for the community through increased tree canopy cover for climate change adaptation and community amenity.
More information on the 1MT project is available on LeadWest’s website< PreviousNext >
Hospitality Industry Partnership for Western Water
Western Water has enlisted cafes and restaurants across its service region to promote the Choose Tap message.
Around 50 cafes and restaurants have signed up to the Choose Tap Hospitality Partnership Program, aimed at ensuring customers are given tap water as their first choice of drink.
Western Water’s General Manager, Customer and Community Relations, Graham Holt, says there has been an overwhelmingly positive response from the local hospitality industry.
“We have provided each café with Choose Tap branded glass bottles for tables and Choose Tap signs for their entrances,” Mr Holt says.
“Each establishment has also been given information for customers about the benefits of drinking tap water to put on tables and the backs of toilet doors.”
Plans are now under way to expand the program to major employers around the region, helping them to promote the benefits of tap water to staff members.
“It’s a simple but effective way we can make a real difference to people’s health and the environment,” Mr Holt says.< PreviousNext >
River and Wetland Watering Plan Released
The Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH) has released its annual watering plan to support the health of the state’s rivers and wetlands and the wildlife that depends on them.
The Seasonal Watering Plan 2015-16 sets out where and when environmental water might be released across Victoria under a range of climate and water availability scenarios.
The VEWH – the independent state body which prioritises environmental watering across Victoria – has advised that, despite low inflows being forecast alongside drier El Nino conditions, environmental water ‘carried over’ from last year will support river and wetland health across the state.
If the forecast dry conditions eventuate, environmental watering will still be able to continue but with scaled back objectives in some regions. In these cases, environmental watering would focus on avoiding irreversible loss and providing refuges for wildlife. Environmental watering would aim to maintain water quality to prevent the deaths of fish and other water animals. It would also target protection of threatened species.
With higher water availability, environmental watering in 2015-16 will aim to: boost the resilience of waterways; trigger fish and waterbird breeding; provide habitat pools for water animals including platypus, frogs and reptiles; create drinking holes for land animals; and boost native vegetation – including river red gums – along river banks and floodplains.
VEWH Chairman, Denis Flett, said: “Environmental water is critical in keeping waterways – and the life within and around them – healthy. This has ongoing benefits for local communities including for recreation (such as fishing) as well as the homes and farms that rely on healthy, functioning rivers.
“If the forecast El Nino conditions eventuate, it will be even more important that we manage environmental water efficiently and effectively to support the health of our waterways, and the wildlife and communities that depend on them.”
The Seasonal Watering Plan was developed with catchment management authorities and Melbourne Water, drawing from scientific studies and community knowledge. Where possible, environmental watering actions identify opportunities for additional social and cultural benefits, including recreation. Final watering decisions will take into account climate, environmental priorities, water availability and operational and ecological conditions.< PreviousNext >
Solar Power a Viable Alternative at some Melbourne Water Sites
An 8 kilowatt solar panel system was recently installed at Melbourne Water’s Lusatia Park Treatment Plant, in a pilot that aims to reduce the cost of powering small sites.
Energy, particularly imported electricity, is Melbourne Water’s third-largest operating cost after labour and external services, and Melbourne Water is actively working to identify on-site sources of energy that will reduce operating costs and the costs to its customers.
Electricity grid prices tend to be higher at sites that use small amounts of electricity. However, with the cost of solar power installations steadily dropping, Melbourne Water has been monitoring the opportunity for solar panel electricity at many of its sites.
With the Lusatia Park solar array installed and operational, Melbourne Water will monitor its productivity over time to see how best anticipated savings can be realized. This will provide real-world generation information against which to evaluate other solar installations at smaller sites. Based on existing electricity tariffs at other similar sites, it’s expected that Melbourne Water will be installing up to a dozen of these solar arrays across our network to reduce electricity costs.
Melbourne Water is also evaluating the opportunity for large-scale solar installations; however, as the price of electricity at larger sites is lower, it is more difficult to identify sites where large solar installations are economic.
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Melbourne Water is one of the top 15 energy users in Victoria and amongst the top 150 greenhouse gas emitters in Australia. In 2013/2014 they used over 1.22petajoules of energy and emitted around 342,100 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e)
Orde Hill Reservoir Upgrade Complete
Western Water has completed a $650,000 upgrade to the Orde Hill Reservoir in Mount Macedon.
Orde Hill Reservoir is a 250ML raw water storage that provides source water for drinking water storages Rosslynne Reservoir and Graham Brock Reservoir.
The latter two reservoirs provide drinking water to customers in the Macedon Ranges.
Orde Hill is also an emergency supply that can be drawn on during bushfires in one of Victoria’s most fire-prone areas.
The works improved the overall safety of the reservoir, including upgrades to its internal drainage system, improved vehicle access and the installation of stormwater drains across the embankment.
The upgrade began in 2014, but was delayed by wet weather and resumed in 2015 when ground conditions improved.
The project is part of a wider program at Western Water of renewing existing infrastructure, improving service standards and meeting legislative and regulatory requirements.< PreviousNext >
An Innovative Water Treatment Plant for Quambatook
An innovative water treatment plant has recently been commissioned at Quambatook, Victoria. The water treatment plant was built inside a shipping container at Horsham and transported to Quambatook for commissioning.
Ongoing issues with the raw water that was only disinfected, lead to numerous customer complaints in the form of dirty smelly water. The raw water had high dissolved organic carbon content, algae and high turbidity, and struggled to meet regulatory requirements.
The treatment plant was built in response to this, and has been instrumental in solving ongoing water quality issues in the town and meeting the drinking water regulatory requirements. Table 1 illustrates the improvements in water quality parameters after installation of the plant.
The water treatment process includes pH correction, coagulation/flocculation, dissolved air flotation and sand filtration, followed by filtration through an external pre-existing granular activated carbon filtration unit and chlorine gas disinfection. The water treatment plant treats 7 L/s, and the compact size of the plant means that it can have the advantage of being transportable, controlled remotely, and offers excellent treatment performance.
Table 1. Water quality improvements after installation of the Quambatook water treatment plant.
By Suzanne McDonald (Water Quality Officer) and David McMaster (Senior Project Engineer)< PreviousNext >
The search for new business ideas and new business models is underway at Goulburn Murray Water (GMW) and it involves everyone in the organisation.
‘Out-of-the box’ thinking is openly encouraged through their innovation program and ideas for change are sought from everyone who works there. Being innovative and responsive to change is not new at GMW: they have been delivering innovative solutions in response to complex water issues for years.
But now they have an innovation program, which they call the Innovation Incubator, which goes beyond change as a response to problem solving. The incubator is a place where staff put forward innovative ideas, on a continuous basis, and about any topic. What’s more they are encouraged to think big and go beyond current ways of operating with their suggestions and focus on future business drivers.
Staff participation is critical to the programs’ success. It is personal submissions that make-up the program content and it is through their personal actions that the ideas are developed into realistic outcomes (or not if the idea is found to not be feasible). Those who participate as initiative leaders get to make decisions; lead cross-functional teams and actually deliver change themselves. Senior staff act as sponsors and champion the initiative team along the change journey.
Change coaching & mentoring is offered as a fundamental part of the program: staff development is viewed as one of its key attributes. “Getting innovative initiatives underway is really great”, says Kellie Vise Head of Customer Innovation and Change “but for innovation to be really effective it needs to align with GMW’s Strategy and Business Plans and we need our staff to be comfortable with change.
It is about tackling innovation and change systematically rather than hoping people will simply get creative during a sudden burst of “innovation jam”. Running their innovation program this way means they improve their odds of success and decrease the chances that they’ll be simply left staring at a blank sheet of paper waiting for future solutions to simply manifest themselves.< PreviousNext >
Taggle SMS Alerts
Barwon Water has launched an innovative SMS alert system to notify participants in its farm leak detection program of abnormal water use.
About 65 farmers in Irrewarra and Larpent are currently using ‘Taggle’, a proprietary technology comprising low cost, low power, transmitting devices that attach to existing water meters. Each unit transmits usage data hourly, resulting in a detailed daily record of consumption that can be viewed online.
Although the Taggle system provides good data, it relies on farmers proactively accessing a website to view their water use to pick up on potential leaks.
Barwon Water’s Information and Communications Technology team has developed a system that will send a text message to Taggle participants when the transmitter has detected a minimum flow of 200 litres an hour for more than 48 hours.
The alert trigger level indicates a steady flow of approximately 5,000 litres a day – a potentially significant amount.
The aim of the SMS is to alert participants that a water use irregularity may be occurring and prompt them to investigate the potential leak or view the data in more detail on the Taggle website.
During a trial of the SMS alert system, one farmer was notified of high flows and subsequently discovered a cracked pipe.
If this leak went unchecked until the customer’s next bill, they would have seen an increase of about $2,200 in water use. Instead, it was fixed within a day and approximately 1 million litres of water saved.< PreviousNext >
Stonehenge Arrives in Wallan
As part of a $20million investment in Wallan, a temporary ‘Stonehenge’ has been erected to form the base for the new Sewage Treatment Plant which is being built.
The 182 steel reinforced concrete pillars (known as piles) will form a solid foundation for seven tanks which will eventually be built on the site. The storage tanks will play an important role in the sewage treatment process.
The piles are inserted into the ground up to 19meters deep and then have the top portion removed, both by hand and by using machinery to create a flat base for the foundations of the tank to be laid.
According to Pat McCafferty, Managing Director of Yarra Valley Water, the temporary Wallan Stonehenge is all part of the $20million project which will help to meet the growing demand in the expanding Northern Growth Corridor.
“Construction is well under way now, and we have made good time given the harsh weather conditions which can be experienced at this time of year. The new plant is needed to keep up with the demands of the growing population, and to meet the needs of current and future customers. As an interim measure we have increased capacity at the existing facility as much as possible, by continuing to maintain and upgrade it while the new plant is being constructed.
“As the northern region continues to grow it is important that the infrastructure keeps up with the growing community. Yarra Valley Water is continuing to help build those communities, and the new Wallan treatment plant is part of our overall investment, providing vital infrastructure in the Northern Growth Corridor” said Mr McCafferty.
The Wallan Sewage Treatment Plant collects sewage from the townships of Wallan, Wallan East, Beveridge, Wandong and Heathcote Junction. The existing plant itself is nearing capacity and needs to be upgraded to treat the extra sewage coming from new developments.
The new treatment plant is expected to be completed in 2016, and will allow the supply of Class A recycled water to customers in the area. This will provide a new drought proof source of the water to area which can be used in homes for flushing toilets and washing laundry as well as outdoors for irrigating gardens and sports fields.
Works at Wallan the site are being carried out by contractor Cockram Envico.
To find out more about the project visit www.yvw.com.au/wallan< PreviousNext >
Vision Super - It’s Never Too Late to Build a Brighter Future
Did you know that the average person spends around a third of their life in retirement? Your employer contributes 9.5% to your super each year but will that be enough to get you through those years of retirement? Getting your super sorted out as early as possible and managing it well might mean the difference between having the retirement of your dreams or just getting by.
At Vision Super, we want to be a part of your life from your first job to your retirement celebrations – and beyond.
From top performing investment returns* and good value insurance, to Platinum rated super and pension products, we provide trusted financial advice. Our financial planners always have your best interests at heart – they never receive bonuses or commissions for recommending any product or service. Whether it be over the phone, at an expo or at one of our various seminars, our super experts are all dedicated to providing exceptional, personalised service – and every staff member is a Vision Super member.
Our members stay with us for life, because we’re there for them, every step of the way.
To join the fund that cares about your future, click here to open an account online.
*SuperRatings Balanced Fund survey 2014< PreviousNext >
Skilltech - Smart Unaccounted for Water Solutions
Unaccounted for Water is the difference between the quantity of water supplied to a city’s network and the metered quantity of water used by the customers. Unaccounted for water is a major issue for authorities and councils across Victoria. With increased costs from producing and distributing water, it is now more important than ever before to lower the costs associated with unaccounted for water in an effort to improve customer service and increase revenue for viable meters. Additionally, in times of drought and unusual weather patterns, the measure to ensure that water is being used effectively is crucial. The cost of unaccounted for water on a global scale potentially runs into billions of dollars per year and occurs in both developed and underdeveloped countries.
Most of the reported unaccounted for water arises through meter errors, leaks (accounting for 80% of losses) and water theft/unauthorised use by individuals. Smart technology and understanding of complex metering issues can therefore have a direct positive impact on reducing unaccounted for water.
With cost-effective data-logging devices and more than 20 years of field metering expertise, Skilltech works in partnership with water authorities to build a sustainable future. When conducting unaccounted for water audits, they address specific or multiple issues with the aim of:
- identifying faulty meters;
- tracking water usage;
- visualising and locating water leaks in real time and online;
- repairing/replacing inaccurate meters or monitoring systems; and
- developing smart technology to track and account for bulk water usage
CEO Stephen Ellich says: “Water distribution is an essential service that requires innovative solutions to help utilities reduce revenue loss through unaccounted for water, while overcoming the unique challenges associated with aging infrastructure. This is the added value that Skilltech delivers”.
If you are interested in hearing more about Skilltech’s unaccounted for water solutions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
About Skilltech: Since 1991, Skilltech has been providing metering performance solutions to Australian water utilities, covering traditional and smart water metering, revenue generation with innovative products, and community engagement services. They complete more than 70 million jobs each year, through their 1,000+ metering personnel.
For more information please visit: www.skilltech.com.au< PreviousNext >