Essentials Webinar Series

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.

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.