June Research News
Research Newsletter – June 2022
Welcome to our June 2022 research and innovation newsletter.
My favourite fact from this month’s newsletter is that the Danish Kringle is the official pasty of Wisconsin. Let that sink in… Yep, US states have official pastries… Are you Googling it yet?
Oh… and if you see any interesting articles, projects or news about research that others might be interested in, please send to [email protected] – it could even make the next newsletter due in July 2022.
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.
Industry Innovation and Resilience
Image from WSAA

Ground-breaking new Standard for Flushable Products

WSAA welcomes the release of the final standard, DR AS/NZS 5328:2022 Flushable Products, by Standards Australia.

The standard is the result of ground-breaking collaboration between manufacturers, water utilities, peak bodies and consumer groups. It has been many years in the making and is one of the first of its kind internationally.


Find out more at WSAA

Image of Anthony Albanese from Labor website
Labor’s Plan to Future-Proof Australia’s Water Resources

Now we have a new Federal Government it’s time to see how they deliver on their key promises.

Key promises from the Labor platform include:

  • Establishing a National Water Commission to drive ongoing water reform and future-proof Australia’s water resources.
  • Broadening the National Water Grid investment policy – to allow funding for a broader range of projects.
  • Delivering a five-point plan to safeguard the Murray Darling Basin – upholding the Murray Darling Basin Plan and laying the groundwork for the Basin’s future.

In the small print is also a promise to renew the National Water Initiative, which was a shared commitment by all Australian governments to improve how water resources are managed, planned for, measured, priced and traded.

Read the detail at the ALP

Slow Pace of Innovation Continues to Frustrate UK Supply Chain

A new survey from British Water reveals there is an ongoing lack of innovation uptake by water companies and their delivery partners.

The trade association’s annual UK Water Company Performance Survey asks contractors, consultants, and suppliers to rate their clients’ performance in 11 areas, including professionalism, contractual approach and communication.

Innovation was again the lowest scoring area in 2021 – at a time when regulator Ofwat is encouraging water companies to find new ways of working to address key issues, without increasing customer bills.

Read more here at British Water

 Pride in Water at Ozwater

There wasn’t enough space in our booth to hold the enthusiastic supporters who helped make the Pride in Water presence at Ozwater22 in Brisbane a great success. The jubilant crowd included supporters from WSAA’s board and volunteers from across the industry.

Pride in Water is a network created for LGBTIQ+ people and allies that work in the water industry throughout Australia. The network is working to create a more inclusive water industry for LGBTIQ+ staff, contractors, customers and our broader community.

Find out more at the Pride in Water website

Image from One basin web site
One Basin CRC Gets Go Ahead

The Commonwealth Government has announced funding for the new One Basin CRC, a collaborative research program set up to safeguard the environmental and commercial future of the Murray-Darling Basin.

Funding for the program comes from a $50 million grant from the Federal Government’s Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) Program and another $106.5 million from 85 partners.

Read more at the Goyder Institute

Visit the One Basin web site

You might also be interested to know that the Solving Antimicrobial Resistance in Agribusiness, Food and Environments CRC has also received funding.

Details on the CRC SAAFE can be found here

Annette Davison on the Future of Work

Annette Davison, Director of Risk Edge®, answers questions about the new book The Application of ISO 31000 to Drinking Water Quality Risk Management: A Practical Approach.

The book is based on the key elements of ‘getting started’ (understanding context), understanding the risks, managing the risks and monitoring the risks to the production of fit for purpose drinking water. Each element is cross-referenced to key clauses within ISO 31000 as a means of providing a universally translatable risk framework.

Read the discussion at Accendo Reliability

Access the publication here

Diagram of four steps from article
New Digital Twin Readiness Guide

A new Digital Twin Readiness Guide has been developed by an international collaboration that includes Brown and Caldwell, DHI and the SWAN Forum.

The Guide provides a framework, steps, and path to help achieve essential insights leading to more intuitive water systems operations, making the utility more efficient. Global case studies also provide examples of the successful implementation of Digital Twin architecture.

Read the guide at SWAN

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Interview: Disrupt The Status Quo

This is a challenging, but very interesting, interview with Will Sarni, the founder and CEO of the Water Foundry.

Damn the Water Industry for Being so Conservative!

Will explains how the Government could play a key role in enabling more activity and faster innovation in water. He also discusses the importance of terminology used in reporting on water challenges, the launch of the Colorado River Basin Fund, and how corporations are doing on water sustainability.

Listen to the interview at Water Loop

Image from report
Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment: A Decadal Synopsis and Recommendations for Action

A new report from the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) shows that Antarctic ice sheets are melting, the continent’s climate is changing, and the Southern Ocean is warming, becoming more acidic and losing oxygen.

The SCAR report is led by Monash University Professor Steven Chown, Director of Securing Antarctica’s Environmental Future (SAEF) and SCAR’s Immediate Past President.

The report provides the globally agreed view on changes occurring and those that will take place on the Antarctic continent and in its surrounding Southern Ocean.

Read more at SCAR

water supply and security
image from article
New Research Project Established to Explore the Feasibility of a Water Resource Rating System

The South Australian Department for Environment and Water has recently commissioned the Goyder Institute for Water Research to investigate the potential to create an environmental, social and governance (ESG) rating system for water resources across the state.

If feasible, the water rating system would be applied to both ‘native’ (i.e., natural waterways and groundwater systems) and manufactured (e.g., desalinated, recycled wastewater, stormwater, etc.) water resources and consider their sustainability for all water users and uses.

Read more at the Goyder Institute

Image from website
Are Water Utilities the Guardians of Democracy?

This is a really interesting discussion by Manuel Teodoro about bottled water and why the industry is growing in the US. The bottom line is that there is a growing distrust of tap water.

Teodoro contends that it’s a mistake for water utilities to dismiss competition from the commercial water industry. The true value of drinking water lies in its ability to secure public trust and support for public institutions.

Along the way you learn about the Citizen Consumer and you learn that the Danish Kringle is the official pastry of Wisconsin,

Listen to the presentation here at the AWWA

Image from Waterise website
Can Desalination Go Underwater?

Norwegian start-up Waterise has developed a novel desalination approach to operate 400m underwater on the seabed, claiming huge savings on energy and footprint.

By submerging containerised desalination systems, the company believes it leverages natural hydrostatic “pre-membrane pressure”.

A pilot project in Boknafjorden, Norway, has so far demonstrated a 40 per cent reduction in energy compared to conventional reverse osmosis (RO) technologies.

Find out more at AquaTech

Image from article edited to include Ukrainian flag colours
Update on Water Situation in Ukraine

The damage to Ukraine’s infrastructure because of shelling and bombing and lack of electricity is severely impacting water and sewage services.

One country providing substantial support to water utilities in the country is Poland, including equipment such as pumps and supporting recruitment.

Poland borders Ukraine and is currently managing the influx of refugees from the ongoing crisis. The Polish Waterworks Chamber of Commerce (PWCC) coordinates partnerships between Polish and Ukrainian water utilities.

Read more at AquaTech

Image from Reuters

Finland’s Oldest City is Looking to Heat from Sewage to Get to Net Zero

Famed for its medieval castle and lofty cathedral, Turku, Finland’s oldest city, strives to be one of the world’s first carbon neutral cities by 2029.

The secret is the 130-million-euro Kakolanmaki wastewater treatment plant. The treatment plant, located in a cavern beneath the city, generates enough hot water to heat homes for 12,000 people.

Read more at Reuters

Energy and the Circular economy

image from article
The Biodegradable, Waterless and Instantly Dissolving Makeup Wipes

Driven Australian entrepreneur Natassia Nicolao is on a mission to ‘take over your bathroom’ and solve the issue of the beauty industry’s huge water and waste footprints.

As the name suggests, they’re makeup wipes that aim to relieve the enormous pressure placed on our waste systems by traditional wipes, designed to dissolve in water after you’re done with them. Even the individual sachet packaging is recyclable, offering 92 per cent less solid waste, 64 per cent less energy consumption and 72 per cent less CO2 emissions than a traditional sachet.

Read more at Bazaar

Image from article
World’s First Zero Emissions Cement
Researchers at Cambridge have patented for the world’s first ever zero-emissions cement.
The new invention includes achieving the reactive component of cement production without emissions, within the parameters of established industrial processes.
Importantly, the process is built into a combination of steel and cement recycling.
Image from article
Research Shows Native Plants Can Detox PFAS-Contaminated Water

New research from CSIRO, the University of South Australia and the University of Western Australia has found that PFAS chemicals can be removed from contaminated water using Australian plants grown in a floating wetland.

The research tested the effectiveness of Australian rushes to remove PFAS chemicals from stormwater, finding that Phragmites australis was the most effective at absorbing chemicals through its roots and shoots.

Read more at CSIRO

Image from article
New Way to Trace Algae Origins Could ID Sources of Water Pollution

New research from Stroud™ Water Research Center has shown that real-time chlorophyll sensors may be used to determine the origins of algae in rivers and streams, and in turn, identify the sources of pollution that algae sometimes signal.

The theory driving the research is that if algae were abundant close to the sensors, chlorophyll concentration would change more quickly during storms than if the algae came from farther away.

Read more at Stroud

Image from article
World’s First Ocean-Assisted Carbon Removal Plant Launched in Hawaii

Hawai’i-based company Heimdal has developed a unique system that takes advantage of brine waste from the desalination process to sequester CO2.

The process uses electrolysis to alkalinize brine waste returning to the ocean, offsetting the effects of ocean acidification and increasing oceanic carbon buffering.

Read more at Heimdal

Image from article
Organic Matter in Groundwater – a Hidden Source of Greenhouse Gases

Research published in Nature Communications has found when groundwater – especially from deep down – is pumped to the surface, it brings with it dissolved organic matter preserved from long ago. Once sunlight and oxygen hit this matter, it can easily turn into carbon dioxide.

The findings highlight the importance of considering groundwater dissolved organic matter in global carbon budgets.

Read more at the Conversation

Image from Logan City Council
Human Waste Turned into Renewable Energy at Australia’s First Biosolids Gasification Plant

Logan City Council, south of Brisbane, has opened an innovative new facility that turns human waste into energy and fertiliser with the opening of Australia’s first biosolids gasification plant.

The process turns the waste into renewable energy and biochar, a product that can be used for a variety of purposes including as a fertiliser for the agricultural industry.

The gasification process also destroys chemicals in biosolids such as persistent organic pollutants and micro and nano-plastics.

Read more at Logan City Council

Image of PFAS molecule from wikipedia
PFAS May Not Last Forever

Researchers at the University of California at Riverside have found that adding iodide to a water treatment reactor that uses ultraviolet (UV) light and sulphite destroys up to 90% of carbon-fluorine atoms in PFAS in just a few hours.

This appears to be an exciting development, especially since the process seems to be effective on a range of PFAS chemicals.

Read more at PhysOrg

You can also read an interesting analysis of the work done at UC Riverside here

Image from PhysOrg
Mercury Removal Made Easy in Toxic Environments

Researchers from Flinders University have expanded testing of a sustainable extraction material capable of absorbing almost all mercury in polluted water in minutes – itself made entirely from low-cost waste from the petroleum, citrus and agricultural production.

Not only is this new mercury sorbent able to rapidly bind to mercury in water but is also selective in taking up mercury but no other metal contaminants such as iron, copper, cadmium, lead, zinc and aluminium.

Read more at PhysOrg

Image of Lake Erie from article
New Technologies Used to Predict Algal Blooms

Researchers lead by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have used a new technique to better forecast the level of algal toxins that accumulate in Lake Erie every year.

The team used isotope labelling to examine the degradation of cyanotoxins in Lake Erie.

Read more at Phys Org

Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash

Researchers Must Consider the Size of Their Carbon Footprint

New research led by the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie in France has estimated the greenhouse gas emissions from nearly 50 space-based missions and 40 ground-based telescopes.
The team estimates that active astronomy research infrastructures worldwide will emit a combined total of more than 20 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) over their lifetimes – similar to the annual emissions of countries such as Estonia, Croatia and Bulgaria.
Liveability and health
Photo by Rob Wicks on Unsplash
Study Links PFAS to Liver Damage
Research led by the University of Southern California has found a link between PFAS and liver damage. Specifically, a link to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition that has been on the rise and effects a large proportion of the US population.
Importantly, this was a meta-study that systematically reviewed the data on PFAS exposure and damage to the liver, synthesizing the results of 111 peer-reviewed studies involving both humans and rodents.
Working with the community
Image of dead trees in desert
New Book: Cities in a Sunburnt Country

Cities in a Sunburnt Country is the first comparative study of the provision, use, and social impact of water and water infrastructure in Australia’s five largest cities.

Drawing on environmental, urban, and economic history, this interesting book challenges widely held assumptions, both in Australia and around the world, about water management, consumption, and sustainability.

Read more at Cambridge

Some interesting things
Image of legs of man sitting on toilet from article
Will You Sit Down to Pee for the Good of the Planet?

An interesting article in the Irish Times about a Swiss toilet called Save that requires men to sit down to pee. Before the flush, the urine runs down the front of the ceramic bowl to be diverted to a separate pipe.

The purpose or this is to divert the urine into a separate stream, allowing it to be harvested for its nitrogen and the solid waste to be directed separately and used as biosolids.

Read more at the Irish Times

Decoy Nanoparticles Used to Soak Up SARS-CoV-2

Researchers at Northwestern University in the US are investigating the effectiveness of nanoparticles in the prevention of rapidly evolving viral infections.

The nanoparticles were effective against several SARS-CoV-2 variants, including Delta and Beta.

There is a lot of interesting detail in this, but it’s worth the effort to look a little closer.

Read more at PhysicsWorld

Image is still from video
How To Make Graphene
Graphene, that wonder material: the strongest, thinnest and best thermally conductive material known to humans, can be made with a pencil.
This is really interesting!

Watch the video on YouTube

Scientific & Industry Webinar Series
Energy for Decentralized Clean Water Production and Brine Treatment

08 June, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm AEST

Vicwater Annual Conference

7-9 June 2022, The Langham, Melbourne

This year the VicWater conference will explore the theme of ‘resilience and readiness’ highlighting the areas in which we need to progress.

The conference includes both in-person and online opportunities.

The Conference will commence with a program for in-person delegates with a social hour on Tuesday evening, before the commencement of the official program at 8:30am Wednesday morning.

Image from website

Ever Wanted to Create a Podcast but Don’t Know Where to Start?

Date: Thursday 23 June, 9am – 12.30pm
Where: Delivered online
Price: $495 +GST for members of STA member organisations / $595 +GST for non-members (includes EOFY discount)

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn how to take your expertise and insights to podcast listeners around the world.

The course will be presented by Science & Technology Australia’s Martyn Pearce the producer of BroadTalk podcast, and one of the creators of the popular podcasts Democracy Sausage and Policy Forum Pod.

Register and find out more here

13th IWA Specialist conference on Wastewater Ponds and Algal Technologies
3-6 July 2022, Melbourne
The 13th IWA Specialist Conference on Wastewater Ponds and Algal Technologies (WPAT22) will be held as a hybrid event, combining a face-to-face program in Melbourne, Australia (3-6 July 2022), with virtual sessions for those unable to attend in person
  • Explore novel approaches to better engineer wastewater pond treatment for improved public health outcomes
  • Build knowledge of underlying photosynthetic &
    non-photosynthetic microbial ecology
  • Discover opportunities for knowledge exchange &
    networking with a global delegation
  • Join an environment that inspires innovative thinking & generates collaboration

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.



Your one stop shop for water industry knowledge and resources

Water Research Foundation


WSAA utility members can access reports and webinars for free