NT’s Power and Water Corporation and WA’s Water Corporation form a unique partnership to improve groundwater quality in regional communities

Northern Territory’s Power and Water Corporation, Essential Indigenous Services, the Northern Territory Government, Western Australia’s (WA) Water Corporation, The University of Queensland, Hydro-dis Australia and Dematec Automation have formed a unique partnership to develop next generation water treatment technologies for regional communities. 

The research will focus on the treatment of nitrate and heavy metals such as uranium and arsenic by applying electro-chemical technology using oxidation and reduction reactions. 

The proposed approach is based on the existing technological development of continuous electro chlorination made by Water Corporation and Hydro-dis Australia under a separate R&D project. 

The total project value is $2.76 million and will run for three years.  

Two pilot systems will run at operational sites in the NT and WA to test and improve the process in real field conditions while monitoring and optimising performance. 

Two PhD students will be engaged as part of a scholarship to conduct fundamental engineering and scientific research of the technology during the three-year project. 

Novel partnership model  

The project represents a unique partnership model between two water utilities, a university and the private sector outside of the conventional research grant stream in order to invest for the future of the water sector. 

Why develop a new water treatment technology? 

Power and Water and Water Corporation operate a large number of small regional water supply schemes across vast and very isolated regions. Both water utilities face similar challenges in terms of maintaining and improving essential services in regional communities. 

These communities experience significant and ongoing challenges to source adequate drinking water.  

Extreme remoteness, high costs of transportation, challenging logistics associated with materials, chemicals and equipment, lack of trained and qualified personnel, delayed emergency response and infrequent preventative maintenance are a few of the issues faced by water utilities and other service providers responsible for operating remote water supply systems. 

The development of this new technology, specifically designed for remote water supply systems is necessary to drive viable advanced water treatment solutions that can overcome the challenges in an economically sustainable way. 

While several conventional technologies have the capability to treat nitrate and heavy metals, this new technology is anticipated to overcome some of the common barriers to practical application in regional communities, such as low efficiency (recovery rates), high operational costs and significant waste streams. 

The development of new water treatment technologies through R&D trials aims to address this need by validating suitable technologies. 

Image supplied by Power and Water

Research partnership arrangement 

Power and Water and Water Corporation will cooperatively lead the research project to align directly with industry needs, in accordance with the contract requirements and agreed milestones. 

The University of Queensland will lead the research activities around the technology development and optimisation in collaboration with both water utilities and the industry providers – Hydro-dis Australia and Dematec Automation. 

Hydro-dis Australia is based in Adelaide and has developed and brought to market one of the most innovative changes in water disinfection technology (electrochemical cells) in recent years. Hydro-dis is well known to both Water Corporation and Power and Water. 

Dematec Automation specialises in automation, electrical design and construction, programmable logic controller (PLC) and SCADA programming, monitoring, control and optimisation of critical water infrastructure and is involved in a range of projects in Australia. Also based in Adelaide, they have an impressive 30-year history in the industry. 

Hydro-dis and Dematec have been working in partnership on various research projects in Australia in the last few years. 

For more information about the project contact: 

Luke Zappia (Water Corporation): [email protected] 

Wayne Sharp (Power and Water Corporation): [email protected] 

Jurg Keller (The University of Queensland): [email protected]