Whether in person or online, our events bring together our members, regulators and industry to network and exchange information through interesting and interactive sessions to help inform and influence qldwater priorities. Our webinars are hosted on the GoToWebinar platform - if you are new to it you can download the GoToWebinar guide here.
by Luke Sawtell from Urban Utilities and the Water Services Sector Group
In August this year the federal government released the Protecting Critical Infrastructure and Systems of National Significance consultation paper, which outlines proposed changes to the Security of Critical Infrastructure Act. WSAA and WSSG (for which Luke is the UU representative) provided a joint submission on the changes that might have a substantial impact on the water sector, particularly for service providers that fall into the 50K-100K population category. Luke discusses the implications of the proposed changes and provides an update on the draft Trusted Information Sharing Network (TISN) Mutual Aid Guidelines.
by Sen Vigneswaran from Townsville City Council
Sen presented on the development of an asset failure model that has been put in place for TCC’s water assets. The council has implemented the TigerNix system which is accessed by a customised dashboard that tracks assets, failures and planned replacements. After two years of using the system, the model has provided 80% accuracy in its failure predictions and is being used to inform replacement decisions for the council. Sen describes the implementation of the system for the councils and provides a showcase of its application for Townsville.
by Jeanette Harold from Fraser Coast Regional Council
Fraser Coast Regional Council’s Aubinville STP has a lagoon system that supplies recycled water to a nearby tree plantation. The STP has been subject to seasonal licence breaches due to naturally occurring high pH in the lagoon system despite the plant pH remaining within compliance limits. All non-compliance incidences were reported, investigated and dismissed by the regulator shortly after reporting. Jeanette outlines the basis for their approach to the regulator and successful bid to amend their STP conditions.
by Noel Ralph & Nadine Story from Urban Utilities
The S1 catchment is the largest sewage catchment in Brisbane, serving a population of 800,000 that feeds into the main pumping station serving Luggage Point STP. The pump station is fed by three 1575mm diameter critical sewers that have not been inspected for more than 8 years. The presentation provides a fascinating insight into the high degree of coordination across multiple teams that was required to safely shut down the sewers to conduct a CCTV condition assessment on the sewer, and bring the system back on line without impacts to the network, the infrastructure, the environment or the Luggage Point STP.
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by Luisa Marghales from Unitywater and Glenn Dale from Verterra
Unitywater produces 84,000 wet tonnes of biosolids that must be transported and managed each year. In 2013, Unitywater entered into a joint collaboration with Verterra and Suez to investigate reducing the cost of biosolids disposal each year through alternative management means. Luisa and Glenn describe the results of a Controlled Aeration Static Pile Composting (CASP) trial that seeks to unlock the value of biosolids compost, both in avoided disposal costs and as the beneficiated product, which is a complete agricultural fertiliser.
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by James Gardner from WSAA
James is the WSAA Program Lead for the Smart Linings CRC, which is a collaborative program to improve the understanding of the performance of lining systems and how utilities can get the best out of them and their existing assets. The program is a broad industry-wide collaboration with utilities providing the test sites for manufacturers and applicators to install the products, which are then tested though the university collaborators. The information feeds into the development of WSAA Industry Codes and Standards. James provides an update on the progress of the project which is nearing completion.
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by Johanna Johnston, Logan City Council
Logan City Council operates the Loganholme WWTP, which serves 300,000 people and produces approximately 34,000 tonnes of biosolids each year, constituting approximately 30% of the operating costs. LCC has constructed a pilot gasification plant at the site. The plant’s aim is to recover a syngas from the biosolids that can be used to run biosolid driers and deliver a biochar product from which 94% of the persistent organic pollutants (including PFAS and microplastics) have been removed. Johanna provides a summary of the project findings to date.
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by Chris Adam, Strategic Asset Management
The cost structure of a typical water business can be divided into four categories: Operating Costs, Depreciation, Dividends, and Interest and Redemption of loans. However, cost for a water business, are typically 70-80% driven by assets, and these assets are very long-lived, meaning capital expenditure has a large and enduring impact on costs. Chris provides a summary of seven key indicators that can be used to provide a broad view of the financial sustainability of a water business to simplify and complement financial modelling.
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by Mark Herrman, City of Gold Coast
City of Gold Coast releases surplus recycled water into the Gold Coast seaway on an outgoing tide through a system constructed in the 1980s. To meet forecast population growth, the city has undertaken a program to construct two new marine crossing pipelines, and two pump station upgrades (on live pump stations) to expand capacity. The project spans eight separate construction sites, some of which are in highly visible locations. Mark provides an overview of the works that are nearing completion, and shares lessons from the project. His presentation also included two short videos which we've embedded below.
by Jenna Baas, Sunwater
Sunwater has seen a great deal of change over the past 18 months, much of it that has been reported in the media. However, behind the scenes, Sunwater has been making changes to its operating model and customer strategy that have had substantial benefits. New autonomy for asset managers combined with a matrix model for reporting to break down team silos are a few measures that have seen staff engagement levels jump, even in the midst of COVID-affected operations. Jenna described the journey that the company has navigated since joining Sunwater in March 2019.
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by Dr Yarong Song, Advanced Water Management Centre, UQ
The Advanced Water Management Centre at UQ has a research team that conducts research specifically focused on sewer corrosion. The centre has facilities that are used to investigate concrete corrosion under controlled conditions (temperature, humidity, concentration of H2S and exposure time) that can take up to 128 concrete test coupons at a time. The team examines chemical, microbiological and mineralogical influences on corrosion to understand the mechanisms and how they can be controlled. Yarong provides an overview of sewer corrosion issues that are being investigated by the AWMC.
by Sean Askew, Bundabrg Regional Council
Asset management in any organisation is difficult, as it requires coordination of multiple teams and data sources that are strongly siloed. At BRC this has resulted in under-spending of planned maintenance budgets and poor coordination of maintenance activities on council assets that can result in duplication of effort (e.g. excavations). To confront this problem, BRC has implemented the software solution Monday.com as a cheap and flexible means to manage and share project information within and across the teams. Sean takes us through the implementation of this tool and describes how it has been able to improve project delivery outcomes for the council. Sean has updated his video to be more thorough and easier to follow and you can view it here.
by Dr Jane Doolan (PC Commissioner) and Drew Collins (Associate Commissioner)
Dr Jane Doolan provided an overview of the Productivity Commission review of National Water Reform.
by Dave Cameron and Rob Fearon
A presentation from Dave Cameron and Rob Fearon with an outline of qldwater’s proposed response to the Issues Paper, and an opportunity for members to provide feedback.
by Neels Kloppers, Gladstone Regional Council
Neels is Gladstone RC’s Manager Asset Performance and Monitoring and has been responsible for attempting to drive improvement in councils’ renewal programs. His presentation will include a bit of history on various technologies trialled including CCTV assessment and video interpretation, data management and other network infrastructure condition assessment activities.
by Kelly Hopewell, City of Gold Coast
PFAS emerged as an issue for water and sewerage providers quite suddenly in 2016 with the issuing of the draft end of waste code by the Department of Environment and Science, which included a limit for biosolids of 0.39 Total Organic Fluorine. Since then two versions of the so called "bible for PFAS", the PFAS National Environmental Management Plan (NEMP) document have been released with the latest NEMP 2.0 issued in May this year. It is clear that PFAS is no longer an "emerging contaminant." Kelly is developing a framework for the management of PFAS for the City of Gold Coast. In her presentation she provides a summary of PFAS including its chemistry, health effects and the current guidelines, with examples from the scientific literature and CoGC sampling to put the guidelines into context.
by Prabhu Krishnasamy, Unitywater
Unitywater's infrastructure includes 135 critical mains that cross waterways. One of these is the 850-metre high pressure water main that services residents of Bribie Island. This main is located beneath the road bridge that services the island and as a result has no access to permit inspection. Two technologies were used to undertake condition assessment of the main. The internal assessment was made using Sahara Technology, while the external assessment was done by ARUP, which provided a panoramic visualisation of the main condition. Prabhu shares some of outcomes of the technology along with lessons learned in undertaking this sort of condition assessment.
by Daniel Muir, Urban Utilities
Urban Utilities is a partner in the WSAA led CRC-P for Smart Linings for Pipe and Infrastructure, which has the objective of conducting field trials and feeding the test results into two new Codes of Practice and four new Product Standards. The activities of the CRC-P include trials of several CIPP technologies. UU has been involved in trials of the Ventia Aqua Pipe relining technology which has been used to reline sections of 100 mm and 150 mm AC water main at locations where conventional renewal (replacement along the same alignment) was not feasible. Daniel provides details of the technology and some of the pitfalls and advantages that have been discovered as part of the trial.
by Dan Deere, Water Futures Pty Ltd
Sewage surveillance for viral pathogens can offer a means to understand the prevalence of a virus in the community and has been used for many years to demonstrate Australia's polio-free status. Sewage surveillance for of SARS-CoV-2 entails representative sampling of wastewater to detect genetic material, consisting of fragments of the viral RNA. Active infections result in the shedding of virus into wastewater by multiple means including laundry, teeth brushing, handwashing and showering as well as more directly from vomit or faeces. Indications from studies in France and the Netherlands show that sewage surveillance results closely reflect community infections and may even provide an early warning trigger for health authorities. The national “ColoSSoS Project” – Collaboration on Sewage Surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 – will track and monitor the presence of the virus in Australia, beginning with a project that is underway in Melbourne. Dan provides a rundown of the scope of the project and its activities in the current "pandemic phase" of operations and beyond.
by Philip Keymar, Urban Utilities
Wastewater lagoons offer a relatively simple low cost, low maintenance wastewater treatment option for small communities, and are widely used with more than 600 ponds currently in Australia. However, they do suffer from some issues, offering relatively low BOD removal, no nutrient removal, low pathogen removal, and are prone to cyanobacteria blooms and greenhouse gas and odour emissions. Urban Utilities as part of a CRC-P project is conducting a trial at three sites to assess a high rate algal pond (HRAP) to improve water quality and greenhouse gas emissions outcomes from ponds. One of the sites at Helidon, Queensland will incorporate an upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactor with new HRAP ponds to be installed within the footprint of a disused wetland site to demonstrate the technology. Philip outlines the project background and plans for the Helidon site.
by Shaun Johnston, Burdekin Shire Council
The entire sewerage network of BSC has been relined which has resulted in reduced infiltration but at the same time identified the impact that illegal connections to sewers has on wet weather flow. Smoke testing provides a means to simply identify illegal stormwater connections to sewers, broken and incorrectly connected domestic pipes and illegally modified manhole covers. Similarly, acoustic testing has started to be used at BSC to identify leaks, and unknown and illegal connections to the water network. Shaun provides an overview of these two relatively old school methods that have been applied at BSC, which can provide efficient and cost-effective solutions for smaller networks.
by Chris Mooney, Department of Environment and Science (DES)
In response to the COVID-19 crisis DES has developed some tools to support EA holders, which include a series of fact sheets on COVID-19, relating to biosolids and waste and resource recovery, and a specific notification form which provides a template to notify the department of any non-compliance issues as a result of COVID-19 directives. The template will help the department to assess the risk posed by any non-compliance. Some important changes as a result of COVID-19 emergency legislation include a six-month delay to the date that the Reef Protection Regulations come into effect to 1 June 2021, and new legislation that changes Environmental Protection Act to permit the department to issue a temporary EA for an environmentally relevant activity if compliance is compromised by COVID-19. The temporary EAs expire on 31 December 2020, with holders provided with an additional six months to return to compliance.
by Dean Barnett, Intelligent Water Networks (IWN)
Dean is program director for the Intelligent Water Networks (IWN), which is a collaboration of 16 of the 19 Victorian water utilities, the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and VicWater. The network leverages on the strengths of its members (both big and small) to conduct technology trials, participate in leadership development programs, collaborate and undertake joint procurement. IWN activities are divided into eight delivery programs: Biosolids and Resource Recovery, Energy & Carbon, Digital Metering Systems, Pipeline Intelligence, Asset Management and Optimisation, Data and Analytics, Edge Technologies, and Knowledge Sharing and Collaboration. Dean outlines the program activities and shares some highlights, which include Zero Emissions Water, now a separate entity that came out of an earlier IWN program on large scale renewables.
by Troy Pettiford, Whitsunday Regional Council
Troy has made the transition from where he began in the industry as plumber years ago to today where he is WRC’s Chief Operating Officer. The steps that he took have involved many changes in outlook: from a task oriented on-the-tools operator, to being required to managing a small team, to now where his role requires a completely different strategic focus in order to operate effectively as a director, board member and chairperson of the qldwater TRG. Troy describes the key skills that he has developed over the years with the help of mentors along the way, including self-awareness, communication, delegation, and encourages participation in mentoring programs to develop the next generation of leaders.
by Adam Lovell, Water Services Association of Australia
Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, WSAA has been one of three organisations that have provided industry liaison reporting to the Department of Home Affairs through the National Coordination Mechanism – Water established to address COVID-19 impacts. At the same time a WSAA COVID-19 Taskforce has been working to identify opportunities for economic stimulus funding and has developed the following six initiatives: Economic Impact on Urban Water, Managing Customers & Hardship, Supply Chain Resilience – Chemicals & Materials, Promoting staff mental health & wellbeing, Improving regional performance and Digital approaches to assist recovery. To date the federal government has not provided any economic stimulus funding to the water sector, but WSAA continues to promote its strategy so that our sector is well positioned should any funding be forthcoming.
by Hamish Butler, Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy
Hamish commenced as Director – Water Supply Regulation in March this year, just as the COVID-19 emergency was beginning. For the water supply regulator, the protection of public health is more important that regulatory compliance, but throughout the emergency the focus has been on the continuation of water supply monitoring and verification monitoring. Communication with the regulator on issues faced by service providers as a result of COVID-19 (such as access to laboratory services) was complicated by the fact that it cannot provide advice that is contrary to law. However, with the passing of the COVID-19 Emergency Response Bill on 22 April, there is scope for the department to lawfully delay some statutory requirements, such as pushing back statutory deadlines and re-issuing of notices, which must be assessed on a case by case basis. In his presentation Hamish outlines the approach that the regulator is taking to resolve issues encountered by service providers and manage the risk to public health.
by Chris Manning, Townsville City Council
Townsville is located in the tropical north coast of Queensland, with a climate characterised by high rainfall falling over 4 months of the year and very high evaporation. As a result, the city has very high water usage, up to 500 Lpppd of which 70-85% is used outdoors. The city is one of six that is collaborating through the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities. Modelling of the city's infrastructure compared with improvement scenarios shows that there are opportunities to reduce runoff and resultant nutrient loads, decrease urban air and land surface temperatures while decreasing water usage for irrigation. Some new developments are incorporating passive watering detention systems into their designs, reducing or even removing water usage for irrigation. Chris shares the insights and learnings from the journey so far and what the next steps are for Townsville.
by Ramraj Kulkarni from Unitywater
Unitywater recently completed a trial of Floating Treatment Wetlands at the Kenilworth STP which serves a community of 350 EP, but with a large recreational population that can increase flow up to 8 times on weekends and at holiday times. Under high flow conditions the STP discharges to a tributary of the Mary River. The lagoons are subject to seasonal algal blooms that required active management. For trial four pontoons planted with different species of grasses were installed in the lagoon, with the intention of encouraging biofilm development on the roots to reduce nutrient levels in the water. Results show that some water quality parameters (suspended solids, nutrients) showed improvement almost immediately, with stable operation of the lagoons achieved over the last several months. Ramraj shares his experiences and some lessons learned from the trial.
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by Stephen Martin from Townsville City Council
Steve set the context for the next speaker with a brief introduction that highlights the importance of asbestos cement (AC) pipe management. For TCC, AC pipe represents only 30% of mains pipes, but is responsible for 38% of main breaks requiring repair and is increasing. The breaks are strongly associated with wet season ground conditions and can be linked to the quality and care with which the original pipes were laid. Increasing maintenance/replacement of AC pipes attests to the need for the work that WSAA is doing in this space.
by James Goode (Water Services Association of Australia)
WSAA is assisting the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA) with the development of Good Practice Guidelines for the management of AC pipe, which are currently in review. It is WSAA's view that there is sufficient research to suggest that it is acceptable for intact disused AC pipe to remain in the ground as it is non-friable and buried, acknowledging that the decision to leave it in the ground is primary cost driven. The future risk associated with the pipes is retained by the utility, which can cause issues particularly in densely populated areas. There remain some risks with the approach around communication, stakeholders, and in some jurisdictions the definition of AC as asbestos containing waste. It is noted that cracking AC pipe does create asbestos waste, which has created a legacy issue for some utilities. James provides the background for the development of the draft guidelines, which will be released for public consultation in June or July this year. The current project scope does not include sewerage assets.
by Martina De Silva, Process Engineering Manager - Water Source Australia
Water Source Australia is developing a low-cost, small-scale point of supply water treatment solution for the delivery of drinking water to remote communities. The technology is designed to be operated remotely via the internet of things (IoT) using a 4G data connection, and to require no day-to-day chemical use and minimal maintenance. Using analytics on data collected, machine learning algorithms are being trained to optimise the operation and maintenance of the units. At the present time WSA is undertaking worldwide trials to challenge their systems with poor source water quality and provide opportunities to expand the capability of the machine learning algorithms, which includes a forthcoming trial on high temperature GAB source water in Charleville, QLD. Martine describes the technology in detail and its applications in her presentation.
by Anna Whelan, Senior Process Engineer - Water and Waste, Townsville City Council
Townsville City Council in conjunction with James Cook University is engaged in two PhD research programs centred on the Cleveland Bay Purification Plant (CBPP) and its environment. Laura Kuskopf is examining the contaminants that are released by the CBPP. Laura analysed 259 CECs, of which a handful have been found in the discharge in concentrations that exceeded the predicted no effect concentration values (a relatively conservative measure of ecotoxicity). Next steps are to develop a target list of those CECs most likely to cause an effect in the receiving environment.
Kezia Drane is examining the ecological impact of antibiotic resistance sourced from the CBPP. Antibiotic resistance in bacteria is a result of the presence of antibiotic resultant genes in a cell, but these genes can be inherited, or transmitted directly from other bacteria (including different species) via the transfer of plasmids. Plasmids are gene fragments that can be small enough to pass through UF membranes to the environment. The research will examine the distribution of antibiotic resistance in sea turtles and their food sources.
by Stuart Khan (Water Research Centre, University of NSW)
There has been a lot of concern within the urban water industry on the risks that are presented by the COVID-19 virus (known as SARS CoV-2) specific to water and wastewater treatment. The SARS CoV-2 virus is one of a class of lipid enveloped viruses, which consist of a fatty (lipid) surface layer that makes it susceptible to the action of soaps. Lipid enveloped viruses are known to survive for less time in water and wastewater than un-enveloped viruses, which include many of the viruses that are routinely managed in wastewater such as hepatitis, polio, rotavirus and norovirus. Studies have confirmed that SARS CoV-2 is more susceptible than E. coli to chorine disinfection. Stuart provides the scientific background and outlines the current state of knowledge about this virus, with reassuring information about how current practices provide protection from transmission through water.
by Lynne Powell (Cairns Regional Council)
Cairns Regional Council is part way through a project that will provide a comprehensive management strategy for all organic waste streams collected by the council. The streams include green waste, biosolids from wastewater treatment and organics from kerbside collection. Analysis shows that around 80% of biosolids is reused and around 50% of other waste streams are recovered, with residuals currently being sent to landfill. The council has engaged a consultant to examine technologies that might be suitable for CRC, with a view to increasing the diversion of organic waste from landfill. Lynne outlines the project to date and looks at the next steps for the council.
by Terry Fagg (Western Downs Regional Council)
There are some surprising parallels between pilots and water supply managers in the event of a crisis. In aviation, an in-air emergency demands that the pilot keeps the plane in the air, and in the water industry, it is imperative that the supply of water/wastewater is safe, and all other considerations are secondary. Failure can result in death. Most business continuity plans seek to maintain business as usual and focus on prevention but fail to consider what would actually be required to maintain a safe water supply in the event of a widespread disruption to society. Terry challenges us to consider what steps could be taken to keep the "plane in the air" in the event that ‘business as usual’ becomes impossible.
by Jeff Rhodmann (Bundaberg Regional Council)
The control of corrosion in sewers is an important factor in improving the useful life of inground sewer assets, which are by their nature expensive to replace and which for many WSPs are reaching the end of their expected useful life. Essentially, the cycle of corrosion results from the reduction of sulfate in the wastewater to sulfide in the presence of biofilms that then oxidise to hydrogen sulfide (the odour) which is in turn biotransformed to sulfuric acid (the corrosive agent). High sulfate wastewater concentrations, high biological oxygen demand, high temperatures and long residence times in sewers all exacerbate the problem. Jeff describes in detail the research and measures that BRC is taking to reduce corrosion in its network, and in doing so reduce the odour impacts and prolong the life of its assets.
by Cameron Ansell (Fraser Coast Regional Council)
When it became apparent in early March 2020 that the COVID-19 pandemic was a real concern, Fraser Coast Regional Council was in the enviable position of having in place a Pandemic Management Plan that had been recently updated. Implementation of the plan lead to some surprising positives, that could in part be attributed to enacting the plan at the most appropriate moment: not so early that it was seen to be an overreaction, but not so late that there was panic amongst staff. Some important lessons from the experience included the need to keep disaster management plans and critical spares lists up to date, and to meet the need of staff for current information, particularly in light of the deliberate distancing of teams. Cameron shares their successes, lessons and challenges from the COVID-19 response in his presentation.
by Troy Pettiford (Whitsunday Regional Council and qldwater TRG chair) and Nicole Davis (Mackay Regional Council)
The implementation of business continuity plans as a result of COVID-19 has had some surprising benefits. These range from increased support from these plans for issuing tablets to field staff with resulting improvements in efficiency, to an increase in productivity resulting from field staff travelling directly from home to the job site rather than via the operations base. The introduction of split shifts in the laboratory at Mackay has resulted in significant productivity improvements. Some of these changes are likely to be permanently adopted. Troy and Nicole describe some of the positives that have been leveraged from the crisis.