From the CEO
Welcome to the Winter 2016 edition of Water Matters. In order to achieve VicWater’s vision and mission we continue to focus our activities on outcomes that are aligned with:
- being a focal point for members and government in dealing with key water industry policy issues.
- providing forums for members to discuss and decide on collective approaches to issues, practices and policy development.
- fostering good working relationships and effective communication with Commonwealth, State and Local Governments, their agencies and other stakeholders.
- facilitating the delivery of projects that improve the performance of the Victorian water sector.
As the peak body for the Victorian water sector we are very aware of the importance of serving our members’ needs. To that end consultation is undertaken with various levels of our membership as part of the development of our annual business plan. This includes our Board (which is made up of six sector representatives), industry Chairs and industry MDs. This ensures that the Association’s core activities align with our members’ priorities. Equally important is VicWater’s ability to be agile enough to respond to emerging issues or in fact to identify potential industry issues.
Over the past financial year there has been significant change within the top levels of the sector. We have welcomed three new Managing Directors, with one water corporation yet to appoint their permanent Managing Director. In addition we saw all Board positions spilled which resulted in a change from 135 directors to 143 directors across the sector, with this number comprising 58% new directors and a 50/50 gender split on the boards. This level of change within any sector has the potential to lead to an unsettled period but due to the breadth and depth of skills and experience within the Victorian water sector it has settled quickly. VicWater has played its role and assisted our members by keeping them informed and connected and worked to facilitate industry collaboration in both government policy and industry projects.
A milestone for VicWater was achieved in 2015/16, we celebrated our 20th anniversary of Incorporation. We are pleased to see that in this current business environment where many businesses and associations struggle to remain viable, that VicWater’s relevance and value has never been so strong. Our members and stakeholders see the benefits of dealing with issues in a collective and collaborative way and expect that VicWater will be a key player in facilitating this collaboration.
At VicWater we have a very effective, small and dedicated team and in reviewing our performance in 2015/16 we are pleased to report that we have achieved and in many cases exceeded our expectations of performance in our key result areas. For example, during the 2015/16 period VicWater produced 14 submissions, contributed to 28 policy and/or advocacy areas on behalf of the sector, coordinated 45 events, workshops and dinners that were attended by nearly 1500 Victorian water corporation representatives and facilitated a significant number of steering committee and working group meetings.
Whilst acknowledging the commitment and energy of our staff, it is equally important to note the contribution and support that water corporations provide to VicWater to deliver the value as outlined above. Many times throughout the year VicWater sought support from our members for specific projects in the form of skilled and experienced people for working groups or funding for specific work. Without exception the response is overwhelmingly supportive. The working groups that have been convened on behalf of the sector have included over 250 representatives from water corporations who have provided the intellect and energy to develop water industry submissions and drive water sector projects.
Other activities of note were that VicWater commenced the strategic sourcing project, became the banker and secretariat support for the Intelligent Water Networks project, undertook a number of successful red tape reduction initiatives, developed an industry diversity strategy and action plan, commenced coordination of the 2016 Rural Water Awards and began coordinating regular meetings for the rural MDs. In addition VicWater staff had positions on a number of key government groups.
If I can turn from business plan performance details to information on our business plan for the coming financial year. The central theme for the Association in 2016-17 has been formally articulated as “VicWater will assist its members achieve extraordinary performance while influencing the future of the Victorian water industry”. With this in mind the key result areas are: influencing the future of the water industry; enhancing cross industry collaboration; and supporting the extraordinary performance of water corporations.
Whilst there are a number of VicWater products and services that remain very relevant to the central theme and will continue, new strategies include:
- Progressing the gender, diversity and inclusion strategy.
- Influencing and assisting in the implementation of the Water Plan.
- Embedding an offsets framework with the EPA and SePP (WoV) as a viable and efficient option.
- Employer of choice to create a pipeline of new employees that enhance required skills, leadership and diversity requirements.
- Analysis of political party water policies.
- Analysis of trends and environmental scanning on water and related policies.
- Delivery the sourcing strategy (separately funded).
- Industry position on climate change and carbon neutrality.
Finally I cannot close without acknowledging and thanking the Directors of VicWater for their contributions to VicWater over the 2015/16 period. Their commitment to the sector continues to drive outstanding results for our members and ensures that the Victorian water sector continues to be recognised beyond our borders as leaders in the Australian water industry.< PreviousNext >
David Ryan - New MD at City West Water
I commenced in the role of Managing Director at City West Water on 14 June 2016.
I live in Geelong and am married with 3 children (1 girl, 2 boys). I am a Carlton supporter who is currently busy renovating the house.
Water industry experience – how long you have worked in the industry and any previous experience in the industry?
My most recent role was as the Executive General Manager, Service Delivery at Melbourne Water. I have over 13 years’ experience within the Water Industry, primarily with Melbourne Water. This includes a large portion of that time working within the Waterways and Drainage part of Melbourne Water.
What VicWater group(s) do you participate in?
Managing Director Forums
What value does your involvement in the VicWater group(s) bring to you personally and your employer?
Personally it allows me to keep abreast of what is happening across the sector. It is very easy to become consumed by what is happening within a metropolitan context, but being involved in any VicWater activities provides me with a Victorian wide context, including understanding what is happening at a rural and regional perspective.
In terms of the value it provides to my organisation, it allows me to share knowledge and influence on sector wide issues. It also provides me with a set of peers to test ideas and talk about any challenges or opportunities we have in our individual roles.
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?
Ensuring we contribute to developing liveable communities within a rapidly developing area.
Safety Performance of our organisation.
Prompting diversity in all its forms within our organisation.
Although working for a metro organisation, I was born and raised on a dairy farm in south west Victoria. I still have close ties to that region and also an affinity for the role water plays in the productivity and liveability of those regional and rural settings. Being involved with VicWater allows me to build my understanding of what is happening from a state wide perspective.
I also strongly believe in the value water plays in contributing to liveable communities. This is more than just the essential drinking water and sewerage supply, but also its contribution to things such as green open spaces or sporting grounds. This is one of the things that so excites me about working in the rapidly developing west of Melbourne and the influence that City West water can have.
< PreviousNext >
Jacinta Ermacora - Chair Wannon Water
I was appointed as the Chair of Wannon Water from 1 October 2015.
I grew up on a farm and live with my partner Francis Broekman in Warrnambool, where we’ve raised our daughters (one is an engineer at Woodside, the other an International Studies graduate).
I love walking on the foreshore, gardening, socialising, food and wine, and Collingwood!
I have worked in the primary health sector, including community health and sexual assault services. My qualifications include Bachelor of Social Work, Master of Social Science, (Policy and Management) Graduate and Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Water industry experience – how long you have worked in the industry and any previous experience in the industry?
I was appointed Chair of Wannon Water on 1st October 2015. My first Board appointment was the Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority in 2003, where I served for 6 years. I was appointed to the Board of South West Water in 2004, then was honoured to be appointed Deputy Chair of Wannon Water when it was created on 1st July 2005. I am also finishing my twelfth year as a local government Councillor.
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 Board team at Wannon Water are incredibly talented, experienced and well networked throughout our region. We are currently focused on supporting the strengths of the organisation’s existing culture as well as enhancing our culture of inclusion and diversity. We are also exploring ways our organisation can add value to our regional community.
Wannon Water’s strong position provides an opportunity to transition from a successful highly technical, compliance-driven organisation to one that looks more to the community it serves. We are determined to hold on to these strengths, but will add a new ‘string to our bow’ by more actively listening to and responding to our community. This is reflected in our new vision, ‘Beyond Water for Strong Communities’.
From my observation there are enormous challenges for irrigation communities north of the divide as a result of climate change. Our sector is also beavering away on carbon neutrality and I look forward to hearing the diverse perspectives on this issue from each corporation. Another important issue is achieving diversity for our sector. It is my view that we can count the numbers all we like, but if we don’t dive deep and shape the culture, in the end, the numbers will only be a matter of demography.
I’m looking forward to the VicWater Conference, as I always enjoy hearing new ways to address our sector’s challenges. The sector has a long record of sharing knowledge and I think that is why we have a friendly culture conducive to innovation.< PreviousNext >
VicWater Finance Conference
The 2016 Finance Conference was held on Thursday 26 and Friday 27 May in Melbourne. With a theme of “Social Fabric Accountability”, the conference was opened with an official Welcome to Country by a member of the Wurundjeri Tribe. This had particular significance since the first day of the conference was also Sorry Day.
The Welcome to Country was followed by a series of quality presentation and case studies detailing many facets of the water industry’s role in promoting social fabric, including:
- Kate Houghton took the opportunity to reinforce the water industry’s role in contributing to community social fabric and highlighted a number of elements of the Water for Victoria discussion paper that promote that objective.
- Leslie Cannold discussed leadership and organisation behavioural traits (both internal and customer facing) that can build or erode community capital.
- Darren Perry, Chair of the Murray and Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations group discussed water-related indigenous values as well as cultural and economic water requirements.
- Leanne Hill described Melbourne Water’s approach to building social value considerations into business as usual procurement processes.
- Eyal Hamish and Malcolm Brown presented a case study on the use of online tools for engagement that make it easier for community members to access and respond to information.
- Brett Millington presented a case study on East Gippsland Water’s use of secondments, staff sharing and flexible resourcing to build capacity of community organisations in Gippsland and provide development opportunities for staff
- Satvik Gangavarapu presented live case studies to establish the need for social value inclusion in financial decision making and a conceptual roadmap on triple bottom line performance as a way forward to measure and improve social value
- Gwyneth Elsum described how Melbourne Water leverage land, water, wastewater and catchment services to deliver broader community benefits.
- Craig Lapsley discussed social and community aspects of disaster recovery, and the year of community resilience.
The conference also includes opportunities for government partners and associates to share relevant updates to water corporation finance managers, including:
- Peter Gallagher (VAGO) discussed the upcoming year-end audit process
- Gordon Thomson (PwC) presented the Puddle Account
- Marcus Crudden (ESC) presented the ESC new approach to water pricing position paper, which had been published only days before the conference.
- NAB provided an update on the economy and markets
- Progressive Green shared a wholesale procurement model for electricity sourcing
We also thank our sponsors for their generous support – Treasury Corporation of Victoria, TechnologyOne, BPAY, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Vision Super, Progressive Green, Smart Fleet, National Australia Bank, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Western Water and the Institute of Water Administration.
The Conference dinner entertainment took a different approach this year with improvised comedy provided by the Big Hoo Haa.
The conference continues to provide a critical forum for learning, networking and collaboration for finance personnel from the Victorian water industry and its partners. We are now in planning stages for the location and venue of next year’s Finance Conference. Please stay tuned for further details
< PreviousNext >
VicWater Innovation Conference
Showcasing the latest innovations being delivered by the Victorian water industry, this year’s event was held on Friday 29 July and was once again very popular, with around 80 delegates and speakers attending and all nineteen water corporations registering to attend. We are delighted that members of the water industry continue to be so eager to collaborate and to share what they have learnt with the broader industry.
Some of the most highly rated presentations according to our delegate survey results included; Yackandandah renewable energy project – John Day, North East Water, Wind mixers for wastewater lagoons – Bree Wiggins, South Gippsland Water, Leading edge sustainable estates – Aquarevo – David Bergmann, South East Water, IAP2 2015 Award Winner – community engagement – Ann Telford, North East Water.
Presentations from the day are now available on our website and are only available to members (via your member login).
We would like to thank Vision Super and National Australia Bank for their generous support, which enabled us to provide the Conference and social media sessions free to our members. Special thanks to everyone who was involved in creating the event including the reference group members, conference presenters, facilitators, panel members and water corporation contacts.
< PreviousNext >
Biggest Ever Laurie Gleeson Dinner
The 2016 Biggest Ever Laurie Gleeson Dinner took place on Thursday 23rd June and was another outstanding success. A huge number of prizes went to auction with lots of winners and our raffle was very successful with all profits going to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.
There was a fantastic line up of speakers including, a very informative presentation by Dr. Bernie Crimmins with an emphasis on men’s health and getting regular health checks, especially for prostate cancer. There was an amazing panel of women: Eloise Southby, Lauren Arnell and Kelly Cartwright, each from different sporting backgrounds who each had such inspiring stories to tell.
The night finished off with a bang with Sam Kekovich, emanating his genuine, unique style and sense of humor. We also noted the importance of the night in remembering the good work that Laurie did and at the end of the night, IWA President, Joe Adamski announced the opening of the 2017 Laurie Gleeson Development Award.
If you’d like to view the power point presentation from Dr Bernie Crimmins or see the official photos from the night please visit the IWA Website.
< PreviousNext >
Board Member Encourages Disability Employment Initiatives
A Western Water board member is encouraging a greater focus on employment of people with a disability in the water industry.
Llewellyn Prain has been a director at Western Water since October 2015, and also serves on the boards of the Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital and Public Transport Ombudsman.
Ms Prain, who is vision-impaired due to a hereditary eye condition, says although the water industry is progressive in many areas, it could do more on disability action.
“I do think there is something powerful about having people with disabilities in workplaces – it’s a powerful symbol of equity and inclusion,” she says.
“And given the broad range of roles in the water industry and its close connection with the community, we have a real opportunity to make a difference.”
Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show labour force participation for people of working age with disabilities is around 53 per cent, compared to 82 per cent for people without a disability.
Ms Prain, who previously worked as a commercial litigation lawyer, says Western Water has been fantastic in adapting to having a vision-impaired board member.
“There’s not a formula that you can follow, it’s about a willingness on both sides to try different things. It’s about the intent.”
In Ms Prain’s case, adjustments have included providing board papers in Word format so they can be “read” by her reading software, and having staff and other board members give verbal explanations of maps, graphs or pictures.
“It’s been more than that,” she adds. “On both a professional and personal level people have been very thoughtful in their approach and really tried to understand my perspective as a worker with a different range of abilities.”
“Because I was newly blind, I couldn’t give Western Water all the answers. But we have worked through issues and developed solutions.”
Under the Victorian Disability Act 2006, state government departments and statutory corporations are required to develop Disability Action Plans to help remove barriers to people with disabilities finding and maintaining employment and accessing services.
While Western Water is developing its Disability Action Plan, there are several water corporations, including Melbourne Water and South East Water, that have plans in place.< PreviousNext >
Fire and Water: New Tools for Evaluation Water Supply Impacts of Fire
Fire in catchments can result in severe water contamination in the short term, and substantial water yield losses in the long term, compromising the water supplies of cities and towns.
Research in the past decades has shown that the characteristics of the forests and soils in these catchments make them particularly susceptible to the impacts of fire, and water supply protection is therefore a critical component of fire management.
However, protection of these forests must be addressed in the context of the primary fire management goal of protecting life and property, and balanced against other values such as biodiversity conservation and timber production.
A joint project has been undertaken by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, the University of Melbourne and Melbourne Water to address this.
The project has two key aims. Firstly, to improve current water risk analysis by developing algorithms and secondly, to apply these algorithms in the East Central bushfire risk landscape to assist land managers to include water values in strategic fire management planning.
Information from this work is being used to optimise planning and conduct bushfire mitigation, such as fuel reduction burning, to minimise impacts on water yield and quality in Victorian catchments. It can also be used to prioritise bushfire emergency response in and around catchments.
Future developments to these methods will incorporate the likelihood of a bushfire event occurring.
Melbourne Water will also undertake a cost benefit analysis of preventative and recovery works using outputs from the modelling to compare effectiveness versus dollar cost of treatments. The results of these comparisons can inform the optimisation of outcomes sought amongst the range of values to be preserved in the water supply catchments.
Using these bushfire and hydrological modelling methods, land managers can now model a variety of scenarios to identify critical points in the landscape including bushfire ignitions and their impact on water assets. Strategies can be optimised to mitigate these modelled outcomes under different weather and fire history scenarios.
Increased information from these modelling techniques will help both public and private land holders to make more informed decisions and trade-offs, which is a great outcome for our customers.
For more information on this project, please contact Craige Brown, Team Leader Water Supply Catchments & Land Asset Management at Melbourne Water via email
Andrew Blackett, Andrew Mellor, Luke Smith and Nicholas Bauer, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning< PreviousNext >
Lance Creek Water Connection
South Gippsland Water are undertaking a major community infrastructure project that will help secure water supplies for over 60% of its customers for the next 50 years.
The Lance Creek Water Connection project involves interconnecting South Gippsland Water’s northern townships of Korumburra, Poowong, Loch and Nyora with the corporation’s largest reservoir and water supply system, Lance Creek. The combination of these systems will secure water supply for these townships and provide a dependable environment for community development, economic growth and future investment within the region.
The pipeline alignment traverses a number of privately owned farming properties, some with challenging steep terrain. The project involves the construction of a 20km pipeline from Lance Creek to Korumburra, a 9km pipeline from Korumburra to Poowong, two water transfer pumping stations and two treatment dosing facilities, as well as mains power and SCADA control upgrades.
The project has a total estimated cost of $43 million and the corporation has been successful in acquiring state government funding of $30 million towards the project.
The combination of a number of high water usage industrial customers and an upwards trend in customer demand, and increasing climate variability has impacted the viability of the corporation’s existing small reservoir water storages and catchment areas to provide a reliable and secure water supply to its customers in the Korumburra, Poowong, Loch and Nyora townships.
South Gippsland Water was faced with the challenge of upgrading individual water storages and treatment plants to meet future demands or exploring alternate more cost effective water supply options. The Lance Creek Water Connection project was one such alternate option that had significant benefits following completion of the Victorian Desalination Plant and a water transfer main from Wonthaggi to the Cardinia Reservoir.
The construction of this infrastructure provided South Gippsland Water with the opportunity to interconnect its Lance Creek system with the Melbourne Water supply system via a connection to the Desalination Plant’s transfer main pipeline. A one gigalitre per year bulk entitlement from the Melbourne system has been secured with an option to extend this to five gigalitres per year in future.
This provides a secure water supply system at Lance Creek, as opposed to the existing surface water systems that rely on substantial annual rainfalls in order to meet demand.
Modelling of each of the various supply options has identified that the Lance Creek Water Connection project is the most cost effective option for providing a secure water supply to customers in these regions.
“This is an important project for the northern towns in South Gippsland,” said South Gippsland Water’s Managing Director Philippe du Plessis. “Current catchment yields will reduce over time and will not meet the region’s future demand for water. The project will provide a dependable environment for community development, economic growth and future investment.”
The project is currently in its final stages of planning with construction activities scheduled to begin in 2017 and be completed by 2019.< PreviousNext >
Central Highlands Water Industry Leader in Achieving International Certification in Environmental Management
Following the release of the new International Standard for Environmental Management in September 2015 (ISO14001:2015), Central Highlands Water (CHW) made an ambitious decision to attempt to meet the new Standard’s requirements at the earliest opportunity, though this was not required until 2017.
CHW’s Environmental Management System (EMS) was externally audited in June 2016, with the auditor recommending CHW for full certification to the new International Standard at its first attempt. CHW is the first water authority in Victoria to achieve this milestone.
The establishment of an Environment Committee in March 2016 with cross-organisational representation has provided additional leadership and oversight to drive continuous improvement, compliance monitoring, education and knowledge sharing within CHW. An internal audit (self-audit) program is developed for the EMS each financial year, allowing CHW to regularly monitor and improve environmental performance. Both the Committee and the self-audit program have been instrumental in supporting the transition to the new International Standard.
CHW looks forward to maintaining its strong environmental focus and continuing to develop a culture of understanding and accountability that environmental management is the responsibility of all at CHW and is at the heart of what we do for our customers, community and stakeholders.< PreviousNext >
New Green Bonds Initiative to Support Melbourne Water Projects
Melbourne Water’s commitment to a more sustainable and liveable Melbourne was recognised today, with a number of its green energy projects listed under the Treasurer of Victoria’s new green bonds initiative.
The initiative, developed by the Treasury Corporation of Victoria (TCV), was created to support investment in projects that have positive environmental and climate benefits, with specific guidelines around their classification developed by a number of independent monitoring and standards bodies, such as the Climate Bond Initiative, Green Bond Principles and Green Bond Indices.
The announcement was made at Notting Hill Reservoir, where Melbourne Water runs a hydro-electric generator that produces energy from the water flowing through the supply network.
This is an example of a project that would be eligible to be supported through green bonds.
There are nine such generators (called ‘mini hydros’) across Melbourne’s water supply system, which generate 61,000 Megawatt hours of electricity each year – enough to power 9,000 households.
Melbourne Water Managing Director, Michael Wandmaker, said the organisation had been investing in renewable energy projects across its key sites, including the Eastern Treatment Plant and Western Treatment Plant, to help make essential operations more environmentally and financially sustainable.
“We’re proud to say that for the third year in a row, Melbourne Water’s water supply network has generated more electricity than it used, a significant achievement for a network of more than 1,051 km of water mains supplying water to more than 4 million people,” said Mr Wandmaker.
“On the back of the success of our existing mini hydros, we are currently constructing five additional mini hydro plants and investigating the feasibility of an additional eight.
“Projects like this are a great example of how we can continue to deliver high quality, reliable services to the city of Melbourne while minimising costs to our customers and impacts on the environment, and show what the green bonds initiative can support into the future.”
In addition to the mini hydros, Melbourne Water captures biogas from the waste treatment processes at both the Western Treatment Plant in Werribee and Eastern Treatment Plant in Bangholme, and uses it to power the plants.
These power stations provide 40% of the electricity required for treatment processes, and together with the hydro sites, generate enough power to supply almost 20,000 Victorian households per annum.
For more information about the green bonds initiative, please click here.
To learn more about Melbourne Water’s mini-hydro projects which won a national Banksia Award for Harnessing the Opportunities of Clean Technology click here.< PreviousNext >
Lang Lang Update
Construction works are well underway on a major upgrade to South East Water’s Lang Lang Treatment Plant, which will see the former lagoon-based treatment plant deliver Class A recycled water to local farms and industry.
The $20m project places the Lang Lang facility at the centre of a regional scheme for Koo Wee Rup, Lang Lang, and the towns of Loch, Nyora and Poowong, and will initially produce up to 800,000 litres (0.8ML) of Class A recycled water per day.
The water will be used for a variety of purposes, including sand quarrying, farming and market gardens.
South East Water’s General Manager for Asset Creation, Charlie Littlefair, said economies of scale, water authority collaboration and innovative network design were vital in making the project feasible.
“Lang Lang becomes the hub in a large-scale integrated sewer system, servicing townships within the regions of South East Water and neighbouring South Gippsland Water,” he said.
Last month, South Gippsland Water and South East Water completed construction of the nearby Loch Nyora Poowong pressure sewer system, which has connected more than 400 South Gippsland properties to a reticulated pressure sewer network.
The network dispenses with septic tanks, and will pipe waste water via a 27km transfer main to Lang Lang to be recycled.
“It’s a win for everyone – our Lang Lang plant will be able to service a growing number of communities in the region, while providing local businesses with a much needed, alternative water supply to meet their needs.”
South East Water has appointed Broadspectrum using the FIDIC (International Federation of Consulting Engineers) contract approach, taking responsibility for the design and build of the upgrade to Lang Lang, and to operate and maintain the entire facility for a period of up to five years.
“The FIDIC contracting model is proven model internationally, and provides for a design, build and operate approach that allows South East Water to lock in operations cost efficiencies,” said Mr Littlefair.
Lang Lang becomes South East Water’s fifth Class A recycled water treatment plant, alongside Boneo, Mt Martha, Pakenham and Somers. Construction will be completed by the end of December 2016.< PreviousNext >
Wannon Water Partners to Support Community
Wannon Water has announced a feasibility study into a new project that will estimate the rates of illicit drug and alcohol use by testing sewage samples.
The study, developing new measures of drug and alcohol use in south-west Victorian communities, was one of the projects unveiled on Friday 26 August 2016 – Great South Coast Ice Challenge Declaration Day.
Wannon Water Managing Director Andrew Jeffers said the corporation’s involvement connected with its new vision to go “beyond water for strong communities”.
“Wannon Water is committed to working in partnership with other regional organisations on priority areas for the south-west district,” Mr Jeffers said.
“The Ice Challenge is focussing on education, awareness, action and prevention, a theme that is well aligned with Wannon Water’s goal to support the health and wellbeing of people across the region.”
Wannon Water’s study will determine the feasibility of a research project that measures drug and alcohol levels in sewage contaminants across the region. Similar research has already been undertaken at sewage treatment plants in other cities, including Melbourne and Perth.
“The intent would be to identify areas where partner agencies could target health promotion, education and resources to support vulnerable communities,” Mr Jeffers said. “Future research could also measure the effectiveness of that response.”
The study will investigate details of what might be possible for a project like this in south-west Victoria, including potential research partners, estimated costs, funding sources, technical requirements, links with other research and timing.
“Our main aim is to determine the size and scope of such a project before deciding on whether or not to commit to commissioning the research in the south-west region.”< PreviousNext >
IWN - Digital Metering: What Could Possibly Go Wrong
Intelligent Water Networks (IWN) has developed a unique and valuable risk assessment tool for Victorian water businesses considering a move to digital metering.
The IWN is a partnership between 17 Victorian water corporations, VicWater and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. ‘The Digital Metering Risk Assessment Tool (DMRAT) is a prime example of the industry-led collaboration and innovation made possible by the IWN,’ says Neil Brennan, Chair of the IWN.
‘Many Victorian water businesses are contemplating digital metering, with some already working on business cases for consideration by their customers, Boards, the State Government and other stakeholders.
‘To ensure that these businesses cases are robust, all risks associated with digital metering must be identified, along with appropriate mitigations.’
‘If we separately engaged an expert consultant to complete our own risk assessments, it would cost up to $50,000 per business,’ says Virginia Collins, from Yarra Valley Water – leader of the DMRAT project, for the IWN.
‘Since all water businesses face common issues with digital metering, the IWN provided the platform to combine the resources of multiple stakeholders, do this work once and share the results across the industry.
‘As well as making significant savings in consultant fees, collaboration also allowed us to collate the collective knowledge of experienced personnel from multiple water businesses, ensuring a more thorough risk analysis.’
The development of the DMRAT was fully funded by the IWN, which is funded through member organization contributions. Yarra Valley Water managed the project, under a steering committee of representatives from other water businesses. Oakley Greenwood was selected as the consultant on the project, after a tender process.
‘Oakley Greenwood facilitated a series of three full-day workshops to identify digital metering risks and mitigations. These were attended by 19 people, representing 14 water corporations, the IWN Executive Group and VicWater,’ Ms Collins says.
‘In addition, the consultant interviewed external stakeholders, including the Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria, the Essential Services Commission, the Water Services Association of Australia, and Victorian Government departments.
‘Nearly 200 risks associated with digital metering were identified through this process, along with recommended mitigations.’
The comprehensive list of potential risks produced through the IWN project includes those associated with customer perceptions, technology failures, data management and protection challenges, contractor problems, OH&S matters, environmental hazards, industrial relations issues, legal troubles, financial risks, vandalism, and more.
The risks and proposed mitigations were considered in the context of various business scenarios.
‘Different water businesses will make different technological and operational choices regarding digital metering, which change the associated risks, their weightings, and the possible mitigations,’ explains Ms Collins.
‘For example, one water business might choose ‘bleeding-edge’ metering and communications technologies, and an operational model involving multiple contractors and high frequency meter readings. Their risks will obviously be different to those of a business selecting well-established technology, keeping operations inhouse and opting for less frequent meter readings.
‘It became clear in the first workshop that the DMRAT would need to be flexible in order to accommodate a variety of users. We developed a range of five different hypothetical business scenarios, within which we considered and weighted associated risks, and identified appropriate mitigations.
‘Consequently, the DMRAT provides customised data – the user makes technological and operational choices and the tool adapts its outputs,’ Ms Collins says.
‘The DMRAT is unique in Australia – nothing else comes close. Victorian water businesses using this tool can take the next step towards digital metering with confidence that their risk analysis is of the highest possible standard.
‘I’m proud of this project and proud to be part of the IWN, providing our member water businesses with solutions that optimise expenditure and create positive outcomes for our customers.’
Inquiries from Victorian water corporations regarding access to the DMRAT should be addressed to Rowan Keeble, IWN Assistant Program Director by email or phone (03) 9938 6816.< PreviousNext >
VEWH - Plans for Environmental Water in 2016-17
The state’s holder of environmental water has released a plan to ensure water in rivers and wetlands in 2016-17 provides for native fish, birds and plants, in all seasons.
The Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH) plans for a range of scenarios – from drought to wet seasonal conditions – adjusting environmental water deliveries according to conditions.
Despite recent rain, the VEWH is expecting environmental water availability to be low in many systems in the first half of the new financial year.
Chairperson Denis Flett says, “Some rivers and wetlands in the west of the state, will likely receive less water, while others in the central and east of the state will receive similar volumes of environmental water as 2015-16.”
The plan scopes potential watering in Victoria using water held in reservoirs set aside to be returned to rivers and wetlands for plants and animals.
The VEWH has again carried over water into 2016-17 to meet critical environmental needs.
Denis says, “If dry conditions continue, environmental watering in many systems will aim to protect water quality in critical drought refuges where sections of rivers have reduced to a series of pools.
“If wetter conditions eventuate, the dry catchments will need significant wetting before sustained river flows eventuate. “Under this scenario, environmental watering will allow native fish, birds and vegetation to flourish, continuing their recovery from the millennium drought.”
Environmental water also intrinsically provides broader social benefits to communities by improving amenity for fishing, camping and canoeing; sustaining healthy Country for Aboriginal communities with a continuing connection to rivers, wetlands and floodplains; and improving water quality which can have indirect economic benefits for irrigation and urban water supply.
In 2015-16, 27 rivers and 73 wetlands in Victoria received environmental water.
The way water is managed in Victoria has changed significantly since European settlement.
Instead of water flowing across the landscape naturally, water is captured in storages by dams and weirs, diverted via pipelines, levees and man-made channels, and used for towns, cities, industry and farming.
Some of our rivers give up more than a third – and sometimes half – of their water for homes farms and businesses. Instead of flowing naturally, with high flows in winter and low flows in summer, rivers now run higher when water needs to be delivered for farming and urban use.
This interrupts many of the natural river and wetland processes needed by native plants and animals to survive, feed and breed. Environmental watering aims to mimic nature and smooth out these changes.
Studies show that environmental watering results in fish spawning and increased populations of animals such as birds, frogs and turtles around the state.
The Seasonal Watering Plan 2016-17 is based on proposals from Victoria’s waterway managers – the catchment management authorities and Melbourne Water – which recommend the most effective watering activities for their region based on community consultation and the best available science.
Communities play a large part in these regional proposals by providing local perspectives, including historical waterway knowledge and citizen science.
The Seasonal Watering Plan 2016-17 is available here.< PreviousNext >
Solar Project Halves Grid Energy Use at Korong Vale Water Plant
A project to install solar panels at the Korong Vale Water Treatment Plant has significantly reduced the plant’s consumption of grid energy.
General Manager Insight & Innovation Jon Anstey said the $55,000 project, a first for the Coliban Water region, is part of the organisation’s commitment to deliver innovation and achieve renewable energy targets set by the Victorian Government.
In June we installed a 30KW solar energy system consisting of 112 panels at the Korong Vale Water Treatment Plant. This improves the plant’s energy efficiency by using solar power, before drawing from the grid network.
The Korong Vale plant was chosen for the project because of its location, size and the compatibility of its electricity system with the solar network.
The project will deliver a $7,000 annual saving in energy costs and reduce the plant’s carbon emissions by 50 tonnes each year.
25 per cent of the state’s electricity is to come from renewable energy by 2020. This project will enable 50 per cent of the plant’s operations to be powered by solar energy and is an encouraging early step towards achieving the 2020 goals.
Whilst the targets were officially announced in June we had been anticipating them for some time. Our Sustainability Strategy outlines our longstanding commitment to supporting innovation and operational improvement by investing in sustainable technology.
“Implementing green technology benefits our business, community and environment. Solar is a renewable source of power and is a key way to reduce our carbon footprint,” Mr Anstey said.
Korong Vale is located in north western Victoria and is serviced by the Wimmera supply system. The water treatment plant delivers treated water to residents, commercial and industry users through 121 connections.
The plant can treat up to 3.6 megalitres of raw water per day before it pumps the treated water from its clear water tanks to the reticulation system. When the pumps are not in operation the water from the tanks is supplied to the town through a gravity fed system.
Pump and filtration systems consume high levels of energy and the completion of this project means these systems at the Korong Vale plant are now largely powered by solar energy.
“With the successful completion of this project we are keen to explore opportunities for renewable energy at other treatment plants and will continue to work with the state government on emission reduction targets,” Mr Anstey said.< PreviousNext >
Western Water Trialling Innovation in Mains Cleaning
Western Water has begun trialling an innovative pipe flushing method; the neutral output discharge elimination system, or NO-DES.
The NO-DES offers the possibility of cleaning water mains without turning the water supply off, and with almost no water wastage.
“The water is cleaned and filtered as it recirculates through the main, so little to no water is lost,” Western Water’s Manager, Field Services and Network Operations, Dean Barnett, says.
“This avoids having water wastage gushing down the street from a hydrant, which can be concerning for customers.”
The NO-DES uses a truck fitted out with a filtering system that is connected to two adjacent hydrants.
Water is then pumped at high speed between the hydrants to stir up sediment and biofilms.
The ‘dirty’ water is cleaned through a 24-chamber filtration system, and a small amount of chlorine may be added if required.
“We are hoping this will prove to be a quick and effective method that will also allow us to clean mains that we have previously been unable to clean because we could not shut down critical infrastructure,” Mr Barnett says.
“It also has the advantage of saving water, especially as we head into the summer period, when water conservation is critical.”< PreviousNext >
Winter Works Improve Supply to Customers
Goulburn-Murray Water has completed a $10 million winter works program between May and June that capped off a $35 million capital expenditure program during 2015-16.
Works included weed control on about 4000km of open channel, desilting more than 250km of channels, 45km of rock armouring on channel banks, replacement of 30 bridges, siphons and culverts and 35km of channel remodelling works.
The program also included major upgrade works along the Stuart Murray Canal and at the Tullaroop Reservoir, along with the refurbishment of a spillway gate and the replacement of the gate hoist at Lake Buffalo.
GMW General Manager of Customer Operations Scott Barber said the works were all designed to improve supply to customers.
“Our customers have told us a reliable water supply is their number one priority and this year’s winter works program shows we’re acting on this,” Mr Barber said.
“We know how important it is for our customers to get water when and where it’s needed and it’s why our maintenance programs are aimed at improving delivery.”
GMW Interim Managing Director Neil Brennan said during the 2016-17 financial year the water corporation would spend about $40 million on capital works.
“These works are all about ensuring the best possible service for our customers,” Mr Brennan said.
During the past year, GMW has also refurbished the Tea Garden Creek Weir to ensure service and water supply to diversion customers, repainted three spillway gates at Cairn Curran to extend their life and refurbished the bulkhead hoist at Lake Eildon.
The water corporation also completed weed control spraying at more than 15,000 structures and 12,000 meters to ensure safe access to these sites.< PreviousNext >
Powering up with Sewage and Food Waste
East Gippsland Water’s Bairnsdale Wastewater Treatment Plant is now well on the way to generating most of its power needs from little more than sewage sludge and local food waste.
The corporation recently installed a new combined heat and power facility at the plant, which is taking the methane generated from a blend of sewage sludge and local food waste and converting this into heat and electricity to run much of the on-site operations. This in turn provides a saving in operational costs and reduces East Gippsland Water’s carbon emissions.
This pilot initiative has been driven forward as part of a joint project involving the East Gippsland Food Cluster, Federation University, East Gippsland Shire Council and East Gippsland Water, exploring ways to recycle organic waste instead of sending it to landfill.
The new facility is producing up to 40 kilowatts of electricity to help power the treatment plant, with any excess energy being fed into the electricity grid.
Visibly the site looks little different to before, except for the addition of a large white, 12m diameter inflated gas membrane, known as ‘the bubble’.
East Gippsland Water’s Managing Director, Bruce Hammond, said, “As an organisation we are very much committed to environmental sustainability in all our operations and reducing costs, which are ultimately borne by our customers. This initiative represents a great advance in these areas and also has the potential to bring wider benefits to the region into the future.”
Representing food producers and processors across the region, Dr Nicola Watts, Executive Officer of the East Gippsland Food Cluster added, “We’re very keen to cut the amount of food waste produced locally that’s ending up in landfill. Diverting this instead for beneficial reuse represents a great outcome and so we are very excited about the clean energy potential of this project.
“Ultimately, this could bring a reduction in the cost of transporting and disposing of food and other organic waste at landfill, while relieving pressure on the environment.”
Helping to supplement the energy generated by the new heat and power system at Bairnsdale Wastewater Treatment Plant is a 10 kilowatt solar panel installation at the facility.< PreviousNext >
Biosolids Reuse Program Turns Waste into Resource
Coliban Water has increased its biosolids reuse program with the completion of two projects at its Bendigo and Heathcote Water Reclamation Plants.
Manager Assets and Operations Steve Dunlop said the projects were part of the routine maintenance at the plants and efforts to increase resource reuse.
Biosolids are the end product of the wastewater treatment process and can be used on farms as a fertiliser to improve and maintain soil.
Seven biosolid drying beds covering an area of 3.8 hectares were cleared at our Bendigo Water Reclamation Plant. This amounted to 6,643 tonnes of biosolids, 215 semi-trailer truckloads, being reused on farms in our region.
At the Heathcote Water Reclamation Plant two wastewater storage lagoons were dredged. The sludge from the lagoons was pumped into large containers called Geotextile bags so the water could be removed.
The bags are made of a material that allows water to pass through it and are a low cost and efficient way of dewatering lagoons, while minimising odours. It was the first time we had used this technique at one of our plants.
“Around 230 tonnes of biosolids were removed from the Heathcote plant and taken to the drying beds at the Bendigo plant where it will dry further before being reused,” Mr Dunlop said.
Biosolids are one way of turning a waste product into a valuable resource. The wastewater that comes into the Bendigo plant is also reused in a variety of ways.
We recognise the environmental value in reusing resources.
“Following treatment at our Bendigo plant, water is released back into the environment, used for on-site irrigation or, after further treatment at our Recycled Water Factory, used for irrigating Bendigo’s parks, public gardens, sporting grounds and ovals,” said Mr Dunlop.
The reuse of water and biosolids is carried out in accordance with the Environment Protection Authority Victoria and Department of Health and Human Services guidelines.< PreviousNext >
Vision Super - Super That’s Good For You and the Planet
Australians are increasingly looking to invest their money in-line with their ethics, and almost half of Australia’s investments are invested responsibly, according to the latest report from the Responsible Investment Association of Australasia (RIAA).
As awareness around ethical investment increases, the superannuation sector is trying to provide Australians with ethical investment options, but often at a much higher cost to members.
Can you have low cost super that’s also invested responsibly?
Vision Super is the fourth largest investor in responsible assets out of Australia’s major super funds. As industry super fund, everything we do is in our member’s best interests – and that includes keeping fees low.
If you’re a member of Vision Super, your superannuation is invested in $1.5 billion worth of sustainable assets that are important to Australia’s infrastructure and economy.
For example, it invested in renewable energy – like the Vision Super Wonthaggi Wind Farm, which is completely owned and operated by the Fund and provides electricity to 7,000 Victorian homes.
Our Australian shares index portfolio sits in the IFM Low Carbon Australian Shares fund, which reduces our exposure to Australian companies with a high carbon risk.
As the fifth largest investor in IFM, Vision Super’s members are part-owners of assets like Darwin International and Alice Springs airports which, according to IFM, are currently undergoing one of the largest airside solar projects in the world.
Beyond investing in the renewables sector at home, we have sought opportunities to align investments with low carbon goals across their portfolio, and invest in overseas companies that have 70% lower carbon exposure than the rest of the market.
We will continue to increase our proportion of sustainable investments as opportunities arise.
Our new low cost Sustainable balanced investment option.
In a further development to offer Australians with low-cost sustainable super, we’ve introduced the Sustainable balanced option.
The option has an even greater focus on responsible investment and an investment cost that is about a quarter of the cost of similar options offered by for-profit retail funds.
The new investment option is offered through Vision Personal, and you can find more information at love.visionsuper.com.au.
Vision Personal is issued by Vision Super Pty Ltd ABN 50 082 924 561, AFSL 225054. This text does not contain any personal advice, it contains general information only. Before investing in the Vision Super Fund, you should consider whether it is appropriate for you and read the Product Disclosure Statement available at visionsuper.com.au.< PreviousNext >
TechnologyOne - Use Network Trace to Manage Assets Spatially
Water authorities are facing increasing expectation from both customers and the community to contain costs, without compromising on service quality. This is forcing them to think about more efficient ways to manage their assets and communicate with their customers. East Gippsland Water (EGW) in Victoria is no different. EGW was looking for ways to work smarter when it came to delivering services to its community.
EGW had a GIS system that was out of date and wasn’t viable to upgrade, so it went out to market to find a replacement that would provide staff with the right data at the right time. EGW now uses TechnologyOne’s IntraMaps spatial functionality, Network Trace, to manage its water and sewer network visually to gain a clearer picture of the impact of work being performed on the services.
“We needed a solution that enabled our teams to manage assets spatially in the field. It’s imperative to our business that our field crews can accurately assess the impact of, for example, turning off a valve in an emergency and visualising the effect of this immediately before making any decisions,” said Information and Technology Manager from East Gippsland Water, Iain McDougall.
Systems Support and Work Scheduler, Steven Mowat adds, “If there is a sewer leak, field staff need to be able to quickly and confidently know what pump needs to be turned off in order to minimise customer interruption, and manage potential impacts on the environment.”
Automating network trace
Previously mapping service connections was a manual task for EGW. It was time consuming, relied on only a few people to perform the analysis and was open to human error. Network Trace provides EGW with a more robust decision support tool.
“Our field teams can now perform the analysis whenever they need to, without relying on someone from the office. It is now a repeatable process because we’ve automated it; our old way was manual and not easily repeatable,” Mr McDougall said.
“Our field teams can make better judgment calls using Network Trace about issues that impact our customers, rather than ad hoc decision making.” Mr Mowat said
Managing proactive maintenance spatially
EGW also uses Network Trace to manage proactive maintenance and the associated reporting requirements. Connected water mains can be highlighted on a map, as well as the properties associated to those water mains. When performing proactive maintenance, field staff can quickly and accurately ensure the affected customers are notified of the outage.
“Network Trace means we can keep our stakeholders, whether it be customers or the relevant authorities, informed of service outages with ease. That’s important to us from a reporting and compliance perspective, as well as service delivery standards,” Mr McDougall added.
Network Trace is a module of TechnologyOne IntraMaps, a web based enterprise GIS viewing application, providing access to decision making spatial data on any connected device. TechnologyOne’s spatial solutions are part of the enterprise software suite provides spatial context to business processes including those around property, planning and development, physical infrastructure and operational work management. To find out more click here.
< PreviousNext >
Pitcher Partners - Standing Directions 2016: Shifting the Focus from Compliance to Competence
As of 1 July this year, we have seen the introduction of the new Standing Directions of the Minister for Finance. The changes are substantial and represent a considerable departure from the previous, highly prescriptive directions, implemented in 2003. While many organisations, including water corporations, have begun assessing the impact these will have on their business, the full effect is not yet explored. The main question is: Will these represent a change for the better, or are the directions just an additional layer of complex regulation?
Overview of Changes
Firstly, the directions move away from a prescriptive ‘tick and flick’ compliance regime and focus more on driving accountability and improving and enhancing broader organisational practices.
While setting the standard for financial management remains as a core objective of the Directions, key changes implemented in 2016 will create a broader, more complete governance framework for organisations within the Victorian water industry.
Key changes include items such as clearer accountabilities for responsible officers, an increased focus on fraud and corruption, additional internal audit requirements, as well as coverage of activities such as lifecycle asset and project management. In addition, a number of Victorian Government standards and policies have been incorporated into the directions to help further strengthen the requirements. One example that is often front of mind within the water industry, is a new requirement to implement the Victorian Government’s Asset Management Accountability Framework which was released in February 2016.
Asset Management Accountability Framework
The Asset Management Accountability Framework (‘the Framework’) is largely based on the ISO 55000 Asset Management Series and covers mandatory requirements relating to Leadership and Accountability, Planning, Acquisition, Operation and Disposal. In addition, there are requirements to consider the level of alignment with the processes and principles of ISO 55000. This we believe, is a sound structure. In the internal audit and process assessment space, we have been leveraging ISO 55000 for a number of years as one of the indicators of better practice. It is not a highly prescriptive standard, rather one that aims to lift asset management practices from the technical operational level to be a broader corporate and strategic level.
Another interesting requirement within the Framework, is the need for organisations to undertake a self-assessment of the level of asset management maturity, how this compares to others and how the organisation plans to achieve its aspirational targets. Results are to be included in the annual report. Luckily, the industry has some time to plan for this, as this requirement does not come into effect until 2020-21.
In principal, we see the changes as positive and believe they are better structured to help organisations improve and maintain strong governance practices. Changes which represent a move away from highly prescriptive and limited value requirements to ones that are principle based are welcomed. These can be better adapted to the organisations requirements and risk profiles. That said, challenges to fully tailor practices will undoubtedly exist as the directions and instructions are mandatory.
While we encourage the water industry to work towards meeting the new requirements, it is critical that the direction changes are interpreted and applied in a manner that is practical, appropriate, and one that maximises the services delivered to our communities.< PreviousNext >
Tenderlink - Towards More Efficient Procurement
Before the Federal election, the Coalition pledged to again look at procurement reform, with an acknowledgement that “the often-cumbersome and archaic process of procurement … can sometimes take so long specified purchases can be out of date before they arrive”.
While the reform promise centres around information technology, the issue of over-complicated procurement processes extends beyond Canberra’s IT-related purchasing. It is pervasive across many organisations and most categories. And the tender process itself is at the very heart of most procurement bottlenecks.
Using a sledgehammer to crack a nut
The proposed reform stems from a recognition that many potential suppliers “offer innovative ‘off the shelf’ products that are low risk” and meet current needs. But agencies can’t buy them simply because “traditional procurement pathways for minor or standard products, or compliance requirements do not match the simplicity of the procurement”.
In other words, current processes require a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
What should be a simple transaction in which an organisation buys a fit-for-purpose product or service from a qualified local supplier at a reasonable price becomes a drawn-out procedure, with an unnecessarily complex tender process and onerous contractual arrangements which scare off would-be suppliers and deprive the buyer of a potential solution.
Procurement professionals end up devoting too much time and effort to relatively minor tasks when they should be tackling the big challenges facing their organisations. So, high-value time is being spent on low-value activity, which is hardly a sensible use of the public purse.
Opening the gates
Inherent in the proposed reforms is a change of role for procurement – from gatekeeper to facilitator. Instead of complicating the purchase arrangements, procurement professionals will be expected to find sensible approaches to match buyers and sellers while, of course, maintaining probity and minimising risk.
At TenderLink, we have seen many organisations – private, public, large and small – transform procurement from a labour-intensive, beauraucratic limiter into a business enabler, simply by embracing technology.
While the current arsenal of e-procurement tools vary greatly in their complexity, they are all designed to streamline the procurement life-cycle, saving time, effort and money and reducing risk. These tools are easy to deploy, effective in their application, and produce outcomes that are commercially viable and fully transparent.
E-procurement is especially effective for organisations starting on their procurement journey and those with limited experience and resources. Rather than first mastering manual processes, organisations have benefited from arming themselves at the outset with e-procurement tools and then building their programmes around them.
Securing workable outcomes
E-procurement delivers cost and efficiency benefits that are easily measured. Those familiar with manual tender evaluation processes will be all too familiar with painstaking spreadsheet preparation and comparisons.
But the benefits extend far beyond time savings and cost reductions. The use of a standard, consistent evaluation process ensures accuracy and probity, which is a fundamental requirement in procurement, especially purchasing funded by the public purse.
Whether deployed simply as a kick-starter or adopted as an essential element of a procurement programme, the use of technology is a valuable resource which will help any organisation do things quicker, smarter, cheaper and with complete transparency. It will certainly help clear the bottlenecks, overcome the complications and get business moving.
Not only does e-procurement make it easier for buyers to get their requests out to suppliers, it also makes responding simpler for potential suppliers, creating a win-win in terms of efficiency and helping overcome the rising cost of responding to tenders.
And that’s clearly what is being sought in the next round of Federal procurement reform.
Rob Cook, Marketing Manager, TenderLink
< PreviousNext >