eFlash #508

eFlash #508

eFlash #508
Date: 20-Oct-2021

In this edition: H2S Update| Asset Criticality Tools and Guideline| Clarification – Essential Workers/ Close Contacts| Webinar – Unitywater's Automated Metering Journey| SUEZ Biofactory II Webinar| Logan City Council Tender

1. H2S Update

Eflash #495 and #501 refer. Safe Work Australia commenced a process some time ago to review a number of “Workplace Exposure Standards.” The major concern is around management of hydrogen sulfide, with the draft standard proposing the reduction of the current 8hr TWA/STEL concentrations of 10ppm/15ppm to 1ppm/5ppm.*

*TWA = 8 hour time-weighted average – the maximum average airborne concentration of a substance when calculated over an 8-hour working day, for a five-day working week

STEL = time-weighted average maximum airborne concentration of a substance when calculated over a 15 minute period

Since the last update:

  • qldwater continues to participate in the national advocacy approach led by WSAA. Late last week a letter was sent to the Queensland safety regulator explaining the challenges the new standards will create for all sewerage service providers if adopted. Key messages:
  • Worker safety is critical, but there are many unanswered questions about whether new (very strict) standards will have a material impact, or introduce other risks.
  • The potential costs are enormous, in the billions of dollars for Queensland.
  • The timeframe to implement (3 years) is unachievable.

In summary, it seeks a halt to proceedings to allow proper industry consultation with appropriate information sourced and fed into the Regulatory Impact Statement.

  • WSAA’s taskforce has met several times and the current focus is on data collection. The data collection template is available here. While we expect it will be challenging for many members to complete, you are encouraged to do so if you are able as any information is valuable. Even if the response is “we have no data” or “we don’t have capacity to collect data” – those responses would be greatly appreciated by 11 November. We will take what is made available nationally to provide to relevant regulators, and attempt to refine cost estimates and implementation issues. Note that the template classifies sites with >1ppm, >5ppm and >10ppm – this is to attempt to quantify impacts of different exposure levels, in case the advocacy results in a more conservative change to limits than currently proposed. (These are detected levels – how it relates to TWA/ STEL is more complex but we can provide advice if required).
  • In collaboration with LGAQ we are in the process of making other key state agencies aware of the need to challenge the current approach.
  • Most recently, we have met with WHSQ representatives from both technical and policy areas and are working through sharing information. WHSQ has been very responsive to the request, however the process is not straightforward as every state/ territory has already agreed to the new standards.

Please contact dcameron@qldwater.com.au if you have any queries. 

2. Asset Criticality Tools and Guideline

A new web page has been established to host the Asset Criticality Tools and Guidelines developed by Clear Idea on behalf of qldwater and co-investors Mackay, Fraser Coast, and Whitsunday Regional Councils.

Previously much of this information has been available to interested members through our Zoho forum platform.

There are two videos explaining the products available to all, with the documents themselves (guideline and spreadsheet) available to members with a password. We have elected not to sell the materials, with other interested parties able to access by becoming a qldwater Affiliate Member.

There are a number of ongoing activities underway related to this work:

  • Clear Idea is consulting with a number of councils to work through the process of categorising assets and assessing criticality, a number of refinements have been identified and the tools will be updated soon.
  • A small QWRAP research funding allocation has been made which is currently supporting two smaller councils aggregate the data and test the criticality tools. If you are interested in finding out more, please contact rcosgrove@qldwater.com.au
  • We have commissioned the development of a web app which will be able to process multiple assessments, thanks to some additional investment from the original councils and several others. It is expected that development will commence in November with the new app ready in the new year.

Part of the success of the project has been reinforcing the well-known rule that asset risk = condition x criticality so understanding criticality is essential for infrastructure planning.

These materials represent a simple way of helping members review their asset base and along with condition assessments, help prioritise renewal planning. It was surprising to all that something similar didn’t already exist in the market, but several qldwater and AWA event presentations by Moira Zeilinga have affirmed the need. Our thanks to Moira and Jo from Clear Idea and all participating councils in helping develop.

3. Clarification – Essential Workers/ Close Contacts

In response to a number of member requests, qldwater has been attempting to seek clarification on the approach to essential services declarations in the event that critical staff (e.g. treatment plant operators) in a lockdown scenario are unable to attend sites because they are a close contact of a COVID-infected person, and subject to mandatory home quarantine.

While the resolution is not as clear as in some other jurisdictions – Victoria has recently mandated vaccinations for critical water industry staff, and made a specific regulated exemption provision for staff in the above scenario – DRDMW has provided a considered response below and the request has clearly been heard. Please contact dcameron@qldwater.com.au if you have any further questions to raise on this matter.

“Thanks for your email seeking clarification regarding the essential worker process for water treatment plant operators and requested letter from the DG. We have consulted with our colleagues in Water Policy and collectively agree that a letter from the DG DRDMW is not warranted in this case, for the following reasons:

  • Loss of critical staff and/or loss of water supply capacity, for whatever reason (e.g., flood, bushfire, illness, pandemic/epidemic, accident), should be captured in a service provider’s incident and emergency response/business continuity plan, which is a component of the approved DWQMP. This may include accessing support from participating QWRAP Councils, sourcing other operators within Queensland (or interstate) or engaging the private sector to provide temporary relief WTP operators
  • While Water Supply Regulation (WSR) is responsible for assessing interstate COVID essential and specialist worker applications, all applications must be submitted via the Queensland Health (QH) portal, which is then assigned to DRDMW for assessing and endorsing. All assessments must be undertaken according to the criteria established by QH
  • There are currently no intrastate travel restrictions. Therefore, no restrictions to accessing essential workers within Qld, should this be required
  • WSR will respond to any loss of capacity on a case by case basis, as reported/notified by the service provider, noting WSR understands the essential nature of the work required to be performed
  • If a service provider notifies WSR of a critical issue where a worker must be engaged from an interstate hot spot area, WSR will ensure that the application is assessed as a priority (i.e. within 24 hours), noting that QH is the final approver and that WSR or the Department (DRDMW) has no influence over the timeframe for QH approval
  • If a service provider cannot resolve the issue locally (imminent total loss of drinking water supply), consideration should be given to standing up the LDMG, which will activate the QDMA
  • It is not considered necessary for the DG to specifically correspond with QH/QH DG about this matter, at this time, as it can be dealt with via standard operating procedures and/or disaster management response. If a service provider is incapacitated and cannot continue to treat and provide drinking water, the necessary briefs and recommendations would be provided to the DGs of DRDMW and QH, as a matter of urgency, to ensure that adequate drinking water is made available.

WSR will continue to work with service providers and QH, as appropriate, to ensure that any disruptions are minor and will not lead to a loss of drinking water supplies.”

4. Webinar – Unitywater's Automated Metering Journey

Steve McDonald was unfortunately ill and unable to present at the qldwater automated metering workshop on 7 September. Steve has kindly agreed to provide a special online presentation, providing an update on Unitywater’s automated metering program on Tuesday 2 November at 10:30 am. 

Register Here for the webinar.

Recordings of the other presentations from the day are now available at https://qldwater.com.au/automated-metering-workshop-2021.

5. SUEZ Biofactory II Webinar

Join SUEZ expert, Eric Garcin on the 26th October at 12pm AEDT, for the second in a three-part webinar series on the SUEZ Biofactory.

Eric will detail the successes at home and abroad, and explore how your utility can transition to the future of wastewater.

Register now to book your spot: https://suezanz.com/3vhvl5G

6. Logan City Council Tender

Council’s Logan Water invites tenders for WIS/35/2022 - Sale of Biochar.

The closing time and date for this tender is 2:00pm AEST on Friday, 5 November2021.

All submissions and enquiries in relation to this tender must be submitted through the tender forum here: https://bit.ly/3cEm4vB

Our biochar is an environmentally friendly product made using biosolids, and can benefit industries including agricultural, composting, and building. An online industry briefing will be held for respondents at 10am AEST on 18 October 2021, please email tendering@logan.qld.gov.au to register for this briefing.

As per section 228 of the Local Government Regulation 2012, Council might later invite all tenderers to change their tender to take account of a change in their tender specifications.

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