Essentials Webinar Series

qldwater's Essential webinars bring together our members, regulators and industry to network and exchange information through interesting and interactive sessions to help inform and influence qldwater priorities, presented by industry experts.

Recordings of all Essentials webinars are available to view by members of qldwater and the Water Skills Partnership. To access the recordings, click on the links to ‘Watch the Recording’ and you will be asked to log into the Member-Only Resource Library. If you haven’t previously accessed the resource library, members can set up an account to gain access here.

Essentials Webinar #30

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Regulatory Requirements for Telcos on Critical Water Assets

by Carmel Serratore, Principal Consultant at Integrated Legal Solutions

Carmel steps through the new legal agreement template (Telco Land Access Agreement or TLAA) which has been prepared for qldwater to assist our members when dealing with a licensed carrier seeking to deploy low impact facilities (in particular, under a LAAN pursuant to Schedule 3 of the Telecommunications Act 1997 (Cth)). The TLAA seeks to ensure telecommunication providers and their personnel/contractors meet their legislated (and contractual) requirements whilst protecting the interests and ongoing rights of urban water service providers (WSPs).

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Download Georgina's introductory slides

Essentials Webinar #29

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Changes to NPR Reporting on SWIM

by Dr David Scheltinga, SWIM Manager, qldwater

In this presentation David steps through the upcoming changes to NPR Reporting using the Statewide Water Information Management (SWIM) system. The changes will impact the annual reporting requirements for water service providers, including those with less than 10,000 connections who will need to start reporting to the NPR from 2025 with data collected from 1 July 2024.

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Essentials Webinar #28

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Land Use Safety Planning for Chlorine Gas Facilities

by Ben Fleming, Office of Industrial Relations

Ben is the Senior Safety Advisor at the Major Hazard Facilities Unit within the Office of Industrial Relations. His presentation focused on land use safety planning for chlorine gas facilities providing an overview of the application of safety and planning regulations to hazardous chemicals, current planning legacy and ideal planning outcomes.

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Essentials Webinar #27

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Arc Flash Risks, Causes and Management

by Michael Gibson from Queensland's Electrical Safety Office

Michael provided information and insights on the risks, causes and management of arc flash. As the Director of Field Services, Michael's key focus is on the promotion of education and training on all matters relating to electrical safety. He supports this through the development and delivery of evidence-based compliance and engagement programs which focuses on ESO’s priority areas.

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Essentials Webinar #26

Watch the Recordings from the webinar series here

Part 1: BOM climate and water outlook for the coming season

by Matthew Coulton, General Manager Agriculture and Water at the Bureau of Meteorology

We have all seen a warmer than average winter and now, with both an El Niño and a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) underway, their combined impact can increase the chance of below average rainfall over much of Australia and higher temperatures across the southern two-thirds of the country. Based on history, it is now also more likely that warm and dry conditions will persist over eastern Australia. El Niño events also increase the risk of extreme temperature shifts like heatwaves, hotter days and increased fire risks. Matt provides a Climate and Water briefing for the 2023-24 summer.

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Part 2: Managing HAB through your Drinking Water Quality Management Plan: Office of the Water Supply Regulator

by Ted Aldred, Manager Water Supply Regulation – Water Operations and Systems, Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water

Blue green algae outbreaks in surface waters can be challenging for water service providers, especially when coupled with other risks that are heightened by high temperatures. Boiling drinking water is not an effective means for removing or inactivating toxins associated with HABs. In this webinar Ted talks about the role of the Drinking Water Quality Management Plan in managing these risks to provide safe drinking water for your community.

Part 3: Health Aspects of Harmful Algal Blooms

by Dr Phil Choi, Senior Environmental Health Scientist, Queensland Public Health and Scientific Services, Queensland Health

The conditions that favour HABs include warm temperature, stratified water and calm or stagnant conditions: all circumstances that are associated with drier than usual wet seasons. If HABs do occur, they have the potential to impact drinking water supplies as well as recreational and irrigation water supplies. Queensland Health has recently updated its FAQ on HAB, and Phil will provide an overview of the health aspects of HAB.

Part 4: Service provider experiences with HAB

In this webinar we have presentations from water service providers in North Queensland with experience in management of harmful algal blooms.

Tania Strixner-Harvey from Mount Isa Water Board will present on "Blue-green algae at Clear Water Lagoon: The journey so far…"

Trish Knavel and Laura Shiels from Townsville City Council will present "Managing Harmful Algal Blooms – Townsville City Council’s Experience"

Essentials Webinar #25

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Workplace Exposure Standards for H2S and other chemicals: what to measure and how

by Brad Geinitz, Chief Advisor Occupational Health & Hygiene, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland

In August 2021, as part of the review of the Workplace Exposure Standards for 700 chemicals, Safe Work Australia proposed new lower limits for hydrogen sulphide and chlorine. These new limits have the potential to result in significant costs for water businesses. There has been a call from the urban water sector for a regulatory impact assessment (RIA) to be undertaken ahead of any change to the limits due to the concern from the industry around the cost to water businesses to implement new practices, and the proposed timeline for compliance with those limits. An RIA, if undertaken, is the responsibility of state WHS ministers: in Queensland this falls under the purview of Minister for Industrial Relations, Grace Grace.

qldwater organised an information session with Brad Geinitz from Workplace Health and Safety Queensland on what compliance to WES standards looks like, and what information can be gathered by water utilities right now to understand their existing risk. This information will be very important if an RIA is undertaken in Queensland.

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Essentials Webinar #24

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Unitywater's Automated Metering Journey

by Steve McDonald, Unitywater

In this presentation, Steve McDonald provides an update on Unitywater's automated metering program.

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Essentials Webinar #23

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Special Webinar on Source Control for Emerging Contaminants

Source control for emerging contaminants is an area that the qldwater Consortium for Research and Advocacy on Contaminants (qCRAC) has targeted for future action. This is because for some contaminants, for which treatment processes are complex and potentially costly, the most effective control method may be to control the chemical at the source before it enters the wastewater system. Interest in this area prompted a Source Control workshop, jointly hosted by qCRAC and SWEAP. The workshop ran as a webinar on 21 October 2021 with six speakers providing a range of views on source control.

Essentials Webinar #22

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Special Webinar on Progress with COVID Sewage Surveillance

by Jochen Mueller, University of Queensland and Dan Deere from Water Futures

Jochen and Dan provided an update on the Queensland-wide wastewater monitoring organised through Queensland Health to monitor and trace COVID outbreaks and how important the sampling being done by our members is in keeping our communities safe.

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Essentials Webinar #21

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Enhanced Coagulation in practice - A useful tool in the management of disinfection by products

by Terry Fagg, Western Downs Regional Council

Enhanced coagulation (EC) is viewed by many as a black art, that can have some real advantages in the management of DBP in waters where the raw water has high levels of natural organic matter (NOM). In this very detailed presentation, Terry outlines what EC is, how EC works in practise and what to consider if you think that EC may be applicable to your water treatment solution.

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DWQMP: After 10 years, have we taken them off the shelf yet?

by Mark Harvey, Charters Towers Regional Council

Five years ago, Mark gave a presentation on the application of DWQMPs at Townsville titled “DWQMP - taking if off the shelf”. Now, Mark is in the process of revising the DWQMP for Charters Towers Regional Council. This ‘frank and fearless’ presentation challenges the purpose of the DWQMP and provides some insights to how a DWQMP can be written to provide some real value to operators, management and regulators.

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Essentials Webinar #20

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Ngukurr Asbestos Cement Main Project, NT

by Teng Yik, NT Power and Water Corporation

NT Power and Water Corporation is responsible for the provision of safe drinking water to a population that is both widely dispersed and remote. The Ngukurr Aboriginal Community water reticulation system was serviced by asbestos cement mains installed in the 70s. Based on age, these mains were at the end of life and required replacement, and the system was experiencing very high levels of water loss (80-90%). This presentation examines the lessons from the renewal program.

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Why is it important for water businesses to understand asset criticality?

by Moira Zeilinga, Clear Idea

In late 2019, three Queensland Regional Councils and qldwater decided to collaborate on the development of a Statewide Network Asset Criticality Guideline. Working in partnership with the councils, Moira developed a methodology, framework, and guideline for water and wastewater network infrastructure asset criticality with the intention of making it relevant for as many Queensland Water Service Providers as possible. The tool has now progressed to the trial stage, where it has been tested by several additional councils. This presentation leads on from that work, and outlines how a council can get started to make use of this valuable resource.

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Essentials Webinar #19

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THM Management in Drinking Water Networks

Chaired by David Sheehan from Coliban Water in Victoria

David provided an introduction that included the international regulatory context for THM. The introduction was followed by short presentations from Stuart Boyd (Mackay), Duncan Middleton (Seqwater), Cameron Ansell (Fraser Coast) and Phil Wetherell (Logan) outlining their issues relating to THM management in their treatment plants and networks.

A short poll indicated that the issue has been identified as a risk and will be addressed internally subject to available resources or is a very high priority for more than 80% of responders.

The poll was followed by a panel session with panellists including Natasha Georgius (Logan), Paul Sherman (Urban Utilities), and Terry Fagg (Western Downs). The discussion highlighted that the problem is widespread, affecting both the largest and smallest water service providers, and that each scheme has its own unique set of conditions and challenges to meet existing guidelines, and that there is no single solution for service providers.

Essentials Webinar #17

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A seven-year major sewer upgrade project

by Nadine Story and Noel Ralph from Urban Utilities

Over the past seven years, Urban Utilities has undertaken a renovation program for a major section of sewer that runs from Fortitude Valley to Eagle Farm. The sewer pipe was built by hand in the early 20th Century which presented some interesting challenges for the renovation works such as; varying pipe diameters, pipes that are oval, egg shaped or oblate, manholes with narrow entrances and original cast iron fittings that have completely disintegrated. This presentation provides a fascinating insight into the scope of undertaking such a program beneath a major city.

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Innovation in asset management

by Adjunct Professor Joseph Mathew from the Asset Institute, Australia

The broad field of Engineering Asset Management (EAM) has been evolving over the last 20 years having begun its roots in reliability and maintenance management and technology in the 1990’s. In this presentation, Joe provides an overview of the background to the Asset Institute and its activities, which have included the development of the SAMP (Strategic Asset Management Plan) Framework with the Queensland government that many will be familiar with. More recently the centre has developed the LinEAR Platform for calculating the reliability of and optimisation of renewal schedules for linear assets, which includes water pipes. qldwater is investigating opportunities to partner with the Institute.

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Essentials Webinar #16

The Trusted Information Sharing Network (TISN) Mutual Aid Guidelines

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.

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TigerNix Asset Failure Predictive Analytics

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.

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Lagoon pH licence amendments

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.

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Essentials Webinar #15


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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Biosolids to Bioproducts

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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CRC-p the WSAA Perspective

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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Essentials Webinar #14

Logan gasification demonstration plant

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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SHOW ME THE MONEY!!… Options for demonstrating sustainability in a water business

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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Long Term Recycled Water Release Program – constructing marine crossings on the GC

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.

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Essentials Webinar #13

The Sunwater Cultural Journey

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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Protect Sewer: Investigate sewer corrosion using multidisciplinary techniques

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.

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Our program management software – Capital delivery success…

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 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.

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Essentials Webinar #12

Productivity Commission Review of National Water Reform

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.

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qldwater Response to Productivity Commission Review

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.

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CCTV and Asset Data Management at Gladstone Regional Council

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.

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Essentials Webinar #11

Managing PFAS in biosolids at the City of Gold Coast

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.

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Essentials Webinar #10

High-tech tools for high risk condition assessments

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.

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Smart linings CRC learnings

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.

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Essentials Webinar #9

The national “ColoSSoS Project” 

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. 

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Microalgal and anaerobic water treatment at Helidon Regional STP with a focus on efficient nutrient recovery and greenhouse gas reduction 

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.

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Essentials Webinar #8

Old school asset condition assessment 

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.

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Regulatory approach to COVID-19, other initiatives 

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.

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Essentials Webinar #7

Intelligent Water Networks Program Update

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.

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How to prepare future leaders for the transition from tools to team

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. 

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National response to COVID-19

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.

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Essentials Webinar #6

Water Supply Regulation Update including COVID-19 response

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.

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Townsville, A Water Sensitive City in the Making

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.

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Essentials Webinar #5

Floating Treatment Wetlands: A Nature-based Solution for a Small Rural Community at Kenilworth

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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Setting the scene on AC pipes

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.

WSAA Asbestos Water Pipes Best Practice Guidelines

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.

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Essentials Webinar #4

Creating a Universal Point of Entry Drinking Water System for Rural Areas Using IoT

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. 

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Update on Townsville contaminants research

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. 

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Essentials Webinar #3

COVID Facts and the Water Sector 

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. 

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Developing an Organic Waste Roadmap for Cairns 

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. 

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Essentials Webinar #2

An Aviator’s Approach to Managing Water Services in a Crisis 

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. 

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Sewer Network Odour & Corrosion Control 

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. 

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Essentials Webinar #1

COVID-19 response: a brief reflection 

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. 

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Leveraging COVID for positive gains 

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.