eFlash #433

eFlash #433

eFlash #433
Date: 08-May-2020

Information for Water Industry Managers and Practitioners in the Queensland Water Industry

Weekly Update – 8 May

Our fifth online “essentials” networking event happened yesterday with 65 attendees at its peak.

(a) 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 Kulkarni shares his experiences and some lessons learned from the trial.

(b) Stephen Martin set the context for the next speaker with a brief introduction that highlights the importance of asbestos cement (AC) pipe management. For Townsville City Council, 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 The Water Services Association of Australia is doing in this space.

James Goode from WSAA described how WSAA is assisting the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA) with the development of Good Practice Guidelines for the management of AC pipes, which are currently in review.   James provides the background for the development of the draft guidelines, which will be released for broader consultation in June or July this year.  (The current project scope does not include sewerage assets.)

All presentations and a video recording of the webinar is available here.

The next event will be on Thursday 14 May at 10am with the following speakers:

Hamish Butler – Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy

“Water Supply Regulation Update including COVID-19 response”

Hamish commenced as Director – Water Supply Regulation in March this year (great timing) and has agreed to present to members and interested stakeholders on the Department’s current regulatory approach.

Chris Manning – Townsville City Council

“Townsville – a water sensitive city in the making”

Townsville City is the largest regional centre outside the south-east and the major economic hub for north Queensland. It has been the beneficiary of significant investment around water security and is still recovering from a major flood event.  Council has been collaborating through the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities for the last few years to engender change, both in planning approaches and community attitudes towards water and Chris will present on this journey.

Register for this event here.

Water Quality Guidelines updated guidance on guideline values for groundwater and brackish/ hypersaline waters

Water Quality Australia’s Water Quality Guidelines website now includes updated guidance on guideline values for groundwater and brackish/hypersaline waters.

The previously limited guidance on how to determine appropriate guideline values for groundwater and brackish/hypersaline water types has now been updated to include additional recognition of these water types, including broad guidance on how to select or determine guideline values. 

Specific new or revised guidance on the website includes:

SWEAP Consortium for contaminants

The first meeting of the Steering Group for the Queensland Consortium for Research and Advocacy on Contaminants (QCRAC) was held this week. The Consortium is a partnership among Queensland councils emerging from the qldwater Sewerage and Water Environmental Advisory Panel (SWEAP). Its purpose is to share information and build ties at state, national and international levels to better understand and influence issues around contaminants of emerging concern for the benefit of Queensland service providers.

Eight members (Cairns, City of Gold Coast, Logan, Mareeba, Redland, Tablelands, Toowoomba and Townsville) have formed the initial Consortium and a Steering Group to scope the workplan for the first year. The following activities have been prioritised for the first year commencing in July:

  • collating knowledge about a priority list of contaminants of concern for Queensland service providers,
  • partnering with national organisation(s) to assist Queensland utilities in influencing national research and policy on contaminants,
  • identifying and building networks with key stakeholders in EC policy and research,
  • establishing and maintaining a Consortium knowledge portal and disseminating summary information to assist the sector.

The sector has worked together successfully in response to COVID-19 threats and this sort of joint response will be critical to effectively address other ‘emerging contaminants’ as community and regulator expectations increase along with our ability to detect trace amounts of chemicals. The importance of sharing trusted information will be critical to promoting consistency and common messaging to support our dispersed sector. The Consortium is seen as a joint mechanism to support these activities. Membership is open to all Queensland service providers and we invite questions or expression of interest to either Louise Reeves (lreeves@qldwater.com.au) or Rob Fearon (rfearon@qldwater.com.au).

PFAS NEMP 2.0 Released

The finalised PFAS NEMP 2.0 was released this week by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE). The PFAS NEMP was created by the Heads of EPAs Australia and New Zealand to provide guidance on managing PFAS contamination in the environment. The original NEMP forms a basis for the local guidelines around the management of PFAS.

The document was released as a consultation draft at the end of 2018 and qldwater provided a submission on the behalf of its members in May 2019. The final NEMP 2.0 has been substantially revised from that draft, including the restructuring of some sections of the document.

Some key changes to guideline values compared to the draft version include:

  • the recreational water quality guidelines have been revised downwards from 2 µg/L to 0.7 µg/L (sum of PFOS and PHHxS) and 10 µg/L to 5.6 µg/L (PFOA), and
  • the Human health investigation level for soil (residential with garden/accessible soil) has been revised from 0.3 mg/kg to 0.1 mg/kg (PFOA).

The impact of the NEMP 2.0 on Queensland service providers is uncertain. The DAWE has indicated that an ancillary document summarising the feedback and the responses to the consultation draft will be published soon, along with any non-confidential submissions. The NEMP will be subject to a formal review every five years, with the first formal review due in 2023.

The PFAS NEMP 2.0 can be downloaded from the DAWE website at: https://www.environment.gov.au/protection/chemicals-management/pfas

WSAA COVID-19 Toolbox talk

To help staff better understand COVID-19 and what it means for them, WSAA asked Dr Melita Stevens, Principal Scientist at Melbourne Water and Dr Dan Deere, Water Quality Specialist at Water Futures to prepare and record a toolbox talk. The talk by Melita is just under 30 minutes long and covers the COVID-19 virus, infection v illness, worker safety, masks, water quality management and wastewater management. It is especially for those who work with wastewater and should answer many of the questions they might have about the virus. 

WSAA is now sharing the video through its networks and has kindly made it available to qldwater members. It must not be posted to any public websites or on social media. You can find the link to the video here (login to qldwater web site required).

Dave Cameron

qldwater  - The Queensland Water Directorate 

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