Welcome to our November 2021 research and innovation newsletter.

In this issue it seems there is a lot about energy and a little bit about beards. Energy, I hear you say. That’s not a surprise. We are, after all, essentially working with wet forms of energy. But beards? What’s that about? Well, I only know one thing for sure, and that’s that right now you are thinking about beards. Ha!

Oh… and if you see any interesting articles, projects or news about research that others might be interested in, please send to [email protected] for the next newsletter due in December 2021.

If you’ve stumbled on this newsletter and would like to receive future editions please click this link. Or if you know someone who really needs this: forward to a friend.


Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

The Future has Arrived!

Australian Urban Water Industry Research Priorities Agenda

WSAA and Water Research Australia have announced the launch of the Water Industry Research Priorities Agenda!

This new resource, produced following extensive consultation, gathers together the industry’s key research priorities and challenges, providing a shopping list of important areas where research can contribute to improving services and more liveable towns and cities.

Importantly, it will be a great resource to support future conversations across the water industry, as we seek to coordinate and collaborate on our shared interests and as we build new partnerships and explore new opportunities with other industries and partners.

Click here to download the document


Festival adverstisment

Over, but Not Forgotten

The Sydney Water Festival has ended. It was a fantastic event, like nothing we have ever seen before in our Australian water industry. Developed in partnership with Northumbrian Water, it was a great success.

If you missed out, you can still see the full program on YouTube. Just click on these links.

Day 1: Festival opening, Craig Reucassel and more.

Day 2: Circular economy, Liveability and water security and Shane Jacobson.

Day 3: Smart cities, customer experience and safety and Dr Karl,

It really is worth making the effort to have a look. Find a comfy chair, put up your feet and be ready to be entertained.


Image snipped from web site

International COVID19 Monitoring Dashboard

This is fantastic. It’s an interactive map showing all the known SARS-CoV-2 wastewater monitoring efforts across the world.

The map shows monitoring activities at 2,691 sites in 57 countries and includes data from 93 dashboards.

Amazingly, if you click on the publications button the map shows a spatial database of publications. So you can easily see what’s happening in South America, for instance.

The map icons also link to a range of resources, including videos and websites.

Look at the map here


Image clipped from dashboard

Doom and Gloom with Infrastructure Workforce and Skills Supply

A new report from Infrastructure Australia is predicting that the infrastructure workforce will be 48% short of demand in 2023, resulting in a deficit of 93,000 people.

The proposed rapid expansion of public infrastructure is testing the limits of existing capacity and capability. Signs of shortages are already prevalent across the workforce with demand anticipated to reach unprecedented levels, well beyond the sector’s ability to service them.

Read the report and look at the mesmerising dashboard here


Image clipped from website

Nitrate Blamed for Poor Community Health in WA

The Guardian has a sobering report on the impact of high nitrate levels in groundwater on public health in remote communities.

It seems we are struggling to bring basic water services to remote communities. The solutions seem frustratingly simple; but the path to the solution is full of difficulties.

Read the article here


Image clipped from the Wall Street Journal

New Research Busts Popular Myths About Innovation

A really interesting discussion about the tools needed to be able to predict the rate of innovation in various technologies.

It even comes with a search engine where you can type in a technology and get an estimate of the rate of future improvement.

What caught my eye was that It turns out that the number of patents in a given technological field is only weakly correlated with its rate of improvement. A far better predictor is a measure of how a patented technology borrows from seemingly unrelated technologies. Who knew?

Read about it here

I found that by signing in with your Google account you have some access to the Wall Street Journal – don’t believe the box that says you need to pay for a subscription.


Image from website

New Technology at WRF TechLink

There are some great new technologies available on the TechLink platform. If you’re a member of WSAA, you have access to this amazing resource just by using your Water Research Foundation password. And if you haven’t got one of those click here to register.

Kando Pulse

An end-to-end, ‘as a service’ solution that detects pollution events within client collection systems


Phosphorus Recovery and Sludge Dewatering Optimization technology


Next-Generation Affordable Data Diodes for Water Control System Monitoring

Direct In-Line Pumping Technology that lifts influent directly from the inlet to the discharge while detecting and responding to solids

PipeDiver Ultra
A free-swimming metallic pipeline condition assessment tool

Access WRF TechLink here




Image clipped from paper

CSIRO Calls for Trial of Underground Water Banking

Australia’s national science agency is looking for regional urban water utilities to trial water banking technology – a long-term underground storage approach using managed aquifer recharge that could help increase water availability during droughts.

Water banking is a storage solution that can use any type of water such as surface water, stormwater or recycled water as source water. The water that is abstracted can be treated to different levels, allowing a range of end uses from irrigation through to drinking water.

Read more here

And if you want to know even more look here





New Method of Removing Lead from Water

Engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a new method to remove lead and other heavy-metal contaminants from water.

The process uses shock electrodialysis, where an electric field is used to produce a shockwave inside an electrically charged porous material carrying the contaminated water.

According to MIT, the process results in a 95 per cent reduction in lead from the outgoing fresh stream.

Read more here


Image from website

New Septic Nitrogen Sensor Passes Field Testing

An innovative septic nitrogen sensor has recently passed field testing in the US. The new technology, developed as part of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) research challenge, aims to provide real-time information on the amount of nitrogen in wastewater.

Currently, it shows strong potential for use in coastal communities where septic systems’ excess nutrients harm the quality of nearby surface and groundwater.

Read more here


Image from Wikipaedia This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

New Method Improves Detection of Harmful Microscopic Parasites in Water

Research from UNSW shows that ultrasensitive CRISPR technology can identify the presence of Cryptosporidium parvum in samples on site and using simple equipment.

The new technology also has the potential to be developed further to improve detection of other bacteria and viruses, including possible identification of COVID-19 in wastewater samples.

Read more here


Image clipped from website

Curbing Spread of Waterborne Diseases Through New Water Monitoring Method

Research from the University College London is testing in-situ fluorescence spectroscopy to provide an instantaneous assessment of faecal contamination allowing rapid feedback to consumers and reduce their exposure to faecally contaminated drinking water.

Read more here


Image from article

US Army Engineers Develop PFAS Treatment System

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has provided details of a mobile, large-scale filtration system to removes PFAS from groundwater.

PFAS have been used in the military’s aqueous film-forming firefighting foams for 50 years and high levels have been found in groundwater near at least 401 active or closed military bases.

The technology is now available for commercialisation.

Read more here

There is even a video here


Image from website

Solar-Powered Desalination Device Will Turn Sea Water Into Fresh Water For 400,000 People

A Finnish water technology company claims to be able to offer the world essentially unlimited fresh water through its unique, zero-emissions, zero-running cost, and non-polluting desalination technology.

Read more here


Image from Western Power Website

Western Power’s First Disconnected Microgrid

There is a really interesting shift happening in Western Australia, where Western Power is turning to a more distributed energy model where communities are serviced by local microgrids. They have built four microgrids so far and Western Power is actively looking to build more.

One statistic that stuck out to me was that more than 50% of the overhead distribution network in WA is dedicated to servicing around 3% of the population.

I think there are some interesting lessons here for the water industry.

Read more here


Image by Dale Watson

Researchers Find New Way to Remove Troublesome Ions from Water

Recent research from Israel and the Netherlands is helping to improve the removal of charged particles from water. In particular, high levels of Boron.

The research is employing an emerging, membraneless technique for water treatment and desalination using microporous, flow-through electrodes. When an electric current is applied, ions are adsorbed to the electrodes and removed from the water.

Read more here




Photo by Adhy Savala on Unsplash

Feasibility of Collecting Pathogens in Wastewater During Outbreaks

This is some great research from the Water Research Foundation that produced a model that can predict concentrations of pathogens in wastewater based on the prevalence of pathogens in the community and expected faecal shedding rates. The research focused on human norovirus, human adenovirus, and Cryptosporidium spp.

The researchers hope that the outcomes of this research could be used as the basis for improved conversations between public health partners and water utilities.

Read more here

If you’re a member of WSAA, you have access to this amazing resource just by using your Water Research Foundation password. And if you haven’t got one of those click here to register.


Image clipped from article

Tap Water Produces a Protective Shield to Stop Plastics Degrading

Researchers from Trinity College and University College Dublin claim that tap water produces a natural protective shield which can help prevent household products such as plastic kettles from degrading and releasing microplastics.

This is really interesting research which makes me feel much better about the scum in bottom of our kettle.

Read more here


Image from the article

Australian Study Screens Airline Wastewater for COVID-19

“Researchers in Australia say wastewater testing is another line of defence against COVID-19. As global travel returns, the government’s science agency, the CSIRO, believes sewage testing on incoming flights can be an effective way to screen passengers for COVID-19.

A score for our CSIRO with an article in Voice of America. And even if you don’t care about passenger screening, it’s worth following the link to see what else the Voice of America has to say.

Read all about it here


Map of Melbourne from article

Evidence of the Health Benefits of Urban Liveability in Australia

Researchers from RMIT and the University of Melbourne have been looking at the links between urban liveability and health outcomes.

The research has found that living in walkable neighbourhoods and those with access to local destinations was associated with higher odds of walking and achieving recommended levels of physical activity.

This could be important work to help us tell a story about how water can contribute to greater health outcomes through improving liveability. Let us know if you can see an application.

Read the article in Nature




Image from article

Unravelling the Complexity of Human Behaviour on Community Vulnerability to Floods

Some interesting research from researchers at Columbia University, Colorado State University and University at Buffalo that developed a new Agent-Based Model to investigate the relationship between human behaviour and urbanisation and its role in creating future communities vulnerable to flood events.

The researchers identified a range of critical factors in the decisions of households to locate or relocate and adopt policies compatible with human behaviour.

Maybe we should be thinking more about how we use knowledge of human behaviour to inform our planning?

Read more here




Image clipped from video

The Extraordinary Power of Poo

From powering homes to fertilising soil, could our ‘number twos’ answer some of the world’s biggest problems? Could poo save the planet?

Made by the Open University, this short and amusing video has some powerful messages.

It’s only five minutes – watch it here


Image of solar cell from article

Tandem Solar Cells Edge Towards 30% Efficiency

The production of more efficient solar cells is heating up with recent announcements that a commercially available solar cell is able to produce energy with record 29.52% efficiency. While new materials called Perovskites seem to be the future for solar cell construction, new tandem materials where Perovskites and silicon work in tandem are beginning to push boundaries.

Read more here

Local researchers are also working on Perovskites, researchers from the University of Queensland have used titanium carbide nanosheets doped with caesium (Cs) to fabricate perovskite solar cells which they claim deliver a PV efficiency of up to 21.57% with “excellent thermal stability”.

Read more here


Image clipped from video

Moustaches and Beards Compete in Germany’s Beard Olympics

A dazzling array of beards and moustaches gathered at a small town in Germany’s Bavaria to compete in the international Beard Olympics.

It’s four minutes of ridiculousness, but worth every frame of this very short video.

Watch the video hair




Holistic Nutrient Management: Practices, Policies, and Partnerships

5 November 2021, 6:00 am – 7:00 am

The Water Research Foundation present a discussion about the project to develop a Holistic Approach to Improved Nutrient Management.

The project is focused on practices, policies and partnerships. Panelists will discuss the importance of these three principles in fostering more effective watershed management of nutrients. Panelists will address how watershed managers can use the practices, policies and partnerships framework to better plan nutrient management efforts and diagnose barriers to further progress.



Asia-Pacific Smart Water Utilities 2021

 10 – 11 November 2021, Singapore

The Asia-Pacific Smart Water Utilities 2021 conference in Singapore is currently seeking presentations that are broadly focused on the following:

  • Making an economic assessment for water utilities development
  • Integrating smart water technologies into existing water infrastructure
  • Strategies for managing and reducing water leakage across the network
  • Looking at real-time data and cutting-edge communication technologies
  • New technologies and know-how in IoT and AI for network automation
  • End-user case studies and how to develop an optimal network

Of particular interest are presentations focused on the latest results and experiences in water leakage.



‘Embracing Positive Change Through Disruption’ – QWater’21 Conference

25 & 26 November 2021.

The Australian Water Association has called for papers for the Qwater’21 Conference, in Brisbane and hosted by Seqwater.

The conference deliberately seeks to provide a forum where technical learnings are celebrated and personal growth is commended with papers and presentations targeted at enhancing our industry through SHARED experiences, CONNECTED membership, and INSPIRED individuals.



37th Annual WateReuse Symposium

6-9 March, 2022, San Antonio, Texas and Online

More details as they come to hand





African Water Association Knowledge Management Platform
Sharing Africa’s water and sanitation sector knowledge
Australian Government – GrantConnect
Forecast and current Australian Government grant opportunities


WaterRF web site image and unSplash

Free Access to US Water Research Foundation Resources

Great news! If your utility is a member of WSAA, you have access to all the online resources of the US Water Research Foundation (WaterRF), including:

  • Access to a huge library of research, webinars and support material covering all facets of the water industry.
  • Opportunities to participate in collaborative research projects with international teams and gain first-hand access to results.
  • Opportunities to participate in Project Advisory Committees, learn from international experience and share your expertise.
  • Access to the TechLink program and the industry’s shared experience with emerging technology.

Watch a short video

If you would like access to WaterRF – and who wouldn’t – please send an email to Dale Watson.


Clip from website

Water Research Access Portal

The Water Research Access Portal (WRAP) is an important resource for those on a quest for knowledge. The WRAP is an online database of reputable Australian urban water research that helps you focus your search on themes that matter.

WSAA also holds the Water 360 database, a global digital repository on community education and customer engagement items on purified recycled water for drinking and other matters. Watch this space for more news in coming editions.

And the WRAP is available on this link


Water Research Access Portal
Your gateway to reputable Australian urban water research.
Water Research Foundation
WSAA utility members can access reports and webinars for free


Having trouble reading this email? View online
If you no longer wish to hear from us please unsubscribe or update preferences
© 2020 Water Services Association Australia.
Level 8, Suite 8.02, 401 Docklands Drive, Docklands, VIC, 3008