Welcome to our May 2022 research and innovation newsletter
In this month’s edition we bring you a selection of really interesting things hidden amongst some really entertaining things disguised as things that are really good for you. I challenge you to find the uninteresting!
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 June 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.
Image of weir from article in Utility magazine
Labor Election Commitment to Renew the National Water Initiative

The Australian Labor party has announced a $26 million commitment to re-establish the National Water Commission and renew the National Water Initiative to drive ongoing water reform and future-proof Australia’s water resources.

The Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) has welcomed the announcement to re-establish the National Water Commission and renew the National Water Initiative.

Adam Lovell, WSAA Executive Director, said, “We welcome the announcement to renew a national focus on water management in Australia. For almost a decade since the abolishment of the National Water Commission, there has been a vacuum in national leadership in managing Australia’s most precious resource.

Read more at Utility magazine

Image clipped from the Water360 Homepage
Water360 Archive – Smart Water Fund
Water360 is your one stop shop for water industry knowledge, and buried deep within the Water360 archive, are the amazing resources of the Smart Water Fund.
The Smart Water Fund was an applied research vehicle for the Victorian water industry that operated for 15 years, ending in 2013. The Fund invested over $66M in more than 230 innovative projects across eight research themes and the results of all these projects are now available free on Water360.
Business R&D Investment Needs a Boost

Some sobering commentary from Peter Roberts on the level of R&D in the Australian private sector. There is a lot to think about here. Including that Amazon’s innovation spending exceeds the total spend by Australia’s public and private sectors combined at $35.6 billion in 2019-20.


Image is cover of Action Plan
WSAA Circular Economy Action Plan

The circular economy is gaining momentum and the water industry is well positioned to be a leading player.

The nature of our operations gives us huge scope to contribute to national and international decarbonisation and sustainability goals and provide opportunities for others as well.

Our Circular Economy Action Plan includes a series of actions WSAA will lead to help the water industry in Australia and New Zealand accelerate towards designing out waste, keeping resources in use, and regenerating natural capital.

Read the plan here at WSAA

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Sydney Water Forms New Partnership

Sydney Water has announced it’s partnering with Veolia through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which aims to explore innovation opportunities to deliver sustainable and resilient water services for the city.

The partnership will ensure new and existing operations become energy self-sufficient, reach carbon neutrality and support the development of emerging technologies.

Read more at Utility Magazine

Image of older couple concerned about bill
Benchmarking Customer Performance – the Why, the How and the So What

Over the last ten years, the Australian water sector has shifted its focus from asset centric to customer focused organisations.

But why do we benchmark customer performance, how do we benchmark customer performance and what do we do with the results?

Evelyn Rodrigues, WSAA’s Manager, Customer and Community provides an insightful look at benchmarking customer performance.

Read what Evelyn has to say at Water360

Image pexels-photo-91413_David McEachan
Developing a Water Industry Innovation Ecosystem

While everyone has been working from home and learning to Zoom into work, WSAA has been thinking about how all the elements of our water industry work together to support innovation.

The Industry Innovation Ecosystem is a bold shift in how we think about innovation, research and development. In a nutshell, it’s about looking more broadly and focussing on things that we have thought, traditionally, were out of our control.

Read more about the Ecosystem here at Water360.

Image from Ozwater site
Ozwater – It’s Not Too Late

10 – 12 May, 2022, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre

Run annually by the Australian Water Association (AWA), Ozwater is Australia’s international water conference and trade exhibition.

Returning face-to-face in 2022 to Brisbane, Ozwater will see thousands of water professionals from across Australia and internationally united in one of the world’s most liveable cities to share ideas on the future of water in Australia.

Read more and register here

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Royal Visit to World-First Water Treatment Process

Even his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales is interested in Carlisle’s new water treatment solution.

Developed by Penrith firm Typhon, the scaled-up UV technology is the only one of its kind capable of disinfecting drinking water supplies on a large scale.

Tested and developed with United Utilities, the technology has been scaled up and now the world’s first ever municipal UV LED disinfection system is in operation at the site.

Read more at CFM

Image of tortoise from article
Essex & Suffolk Water Use Tortoise to Detect Leaks

Essex & Suffolk Water has become the first company in the world to use a tortoise to detect leaks.

The eight-year-old reptile, known as Terry, is able to detect leaks and bursts in pipework through sense of smell – and has now been welcomed aboard full-time to the water company’s operations team.

The fascinating news comes following the announcement of Denzel the leakage-detecting dog back in January 2019.

Read more at Smart Water Magazine

Image of people from website
World’s Largest Reverse Osmosis Desalination Facility Opens

The world’s largest reverse osmosis desalination facility, with a capacity of 600,000 m3/day has been inaugurated with an opening ceremony in Rabigh, Saudi Arabia.

The facility meets the clean water needs of about one million housing units in both Mecca and Jeddah and neighbouring villages.

Interestingly, the facility has a built-in energy cap of 3.5 KWH,

Read more at WaterWorld

image of rocket from article
Taking Plasma Water Purification Technology into Space

Researchers at the University of Southampton have received funding from the UK Government to develop a new method to purify in-situ water in space that uses plasma.

One of the biggest challenges long-term space missions face is having access to safe and reliable drinking water. The project will explore the feasibility of a novel non-thermal plasma water purification method to remove biological and chemical contaminants in water.

Read more here at Aquatech

Image of researcher from article
Solar Energy Can Now Be Stored for Up to 18 Years

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenberg have created an energy system that makes it possible to capture and store solar energy for up to 18 years, releasing it as heat when needed.

This is really amazing stuff. It seems that energy can be stored as a liquid. The technology is based on a specially designed molecule of carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen that changes shape when it comes into contact with sunlight.

Read more at Euronews

Image from artilce
‘Fibre In Water’ – UK Utility to Pipe Internet Cables Through Water Network

And in the North of England there’s a trial project that aims to deliver gigabit broadband connections to rural communities by feeding fibre optic cable through their water pipes.

The ‘Fibre In Water‘ scheme aims to connect an estimated 8,500 homes and businesses through 17 kilometres of live drinking water mains.

The wire will be carried within a ‘messenger pipe’, made from the same material as the larger pipe.

Read more at Techmonitor

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A New Approach to Removing Synthetic Dyes from Water
Researchers from the National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan have developed a novel eco-friendly and reusable nanocomposite-based solution for removing toxic dyes from wastewater.
The method uses Carboxymethyl cellulose, an inexpensive cellulose derivative, in combination with polyacrylic acid to create an efficient adsorbent for ionic pollutants in wastewater treatment.
Image by Dale Watson
Removal of Mercury Using Partially Reduced Graphene Oxide
Some really interesting work from Ecuador, where a partially reduced graphene oxide was shown to be effective at removing Mercury.
The graphene showed a high Hg(II) uptake capacity of and effectively reduce the Hg(II) concentration from 150 mg L−1 to concentrations smaller than 40 mg L−1, with an efficiency of about 75% within 20 min.
Image from the Future is Fungi
The Future is Fungi

Will biotechnology be the fourth industrial revolution, after coal, electricity and the internet?

Fungi are ‘the architects of the natural world and integral to all life’. Fungi ‘sustain critical ecosystems, recycle nutrients and connect plants across vast areas and help to produce many staples of modern life, such as wine, chocolate, bread, detergent and penicillin’.

But in the future fungi could give us so much more, including recyclable floor tiles, compostable packaging and mushroom insulation. If your interest is piqued, check out The Future is Fungi; a life-changing book that aims to explain how fungi can feed us, heal us, free us and save our world

Or, if you’d like to understand a little more about the potential of ‘nature co-design’ and ‘the fourth industrial era’, then raise an eyebrow, put on your thoughtful expression and deep dive into: Nature Co-Design: A Revolution in the Making

Or, if your inclination is to fill the gaps in your mushroom free knowledge, you will be bound to find something interesting among these Online Mycology Courses. Who knew?

I particularly like the sound of ‘The many ways of Fungi’. A course that offers you the opportunity to engage with fungi ‘in the woods or in the kitchen’.

Image of well from article
Chlorine In Drinking Water Influences Children’s Intestinal Flora

Researchers from the University of California in Berkeley and the Swiss Aquatic Research Institute Eawag have examined the stools of 130 children to discover that chlorine changes the composition of intestinal flora of young children.

Overall, the study found that chlorinated water does not reduce the biodiversity in the intestines,

Read more at Eawag

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Bacterial Swimming in Complex Fluids Better Understood with New Experiment
Researchers at Beijing Computational Science Research Centre and Beijing Normal University have developed a new model to help understand how bacteria swim in complex fluids.
Interestingly, it seems that bacteria swim faster in messier fluids than simple ones.
Image from Canberra times article
Icon Water Launches Free the Poo Game

It’s a game concept that will raise a few eyebrows, but it’s sure to be a hit among the kids – and those who like toilet humour.

Icon Water has just launched its mobile and online game, Free the Poo. Yes, you did read that right. And yes, you do play the game as a smiling piece of faeces armed with a plunger.

Read more in the Canberra times

Cut to the chase and play the game! 

Innovation Flows Across Regions and Sectors in Complex Ways

Researchers from the University of Illinois, Stockholm University and Korea Labor Institute have used patent applications as a proxy for knowledge creation and reported on how knowledge flows in five industrial sectors across the United States.

This is really interesting research that explores how geographical proximity effects knowledge flows and how innovation in some industries is dependent on knowledge transferred from other industries.

Read more at PhysOrg

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Assisted Reality Solution Designed for Water Management Services

Look out for this new, wearable, assisted reality technology, designed to create efficiencies by providing access to resources when people need them.

Using the power of a built-in screen, high-definition camera and voice activation, this tech integrates with Teams and WorkflowPlus and has been developed specifically for the Australian context.

Read more at LeadingEdge

Image of oysters from web article
The Single Malt That’s Breathing New Life into Scottish Waters
Researchers in Scotland are taking part in an environmental restoration project in the Dornoch Firth, where oysters are being reintroduced as a means to treat waste from a whiskey distillery.
Once you get passed the inevitable jokes about oysters drinking whiskey, it really is very interesting.
Image of slime from video
Magnetic Slime Robot Could Be Used in Human Digestive Systems

Researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong have created a moving magnetic slime capable of encircling smaller objects, self-healing and “very large deformation” to squeeze and travel through narrow spaces.

The slime, which is controlled by magnets, is also a good electrical conductor and can be used to interconnect electrodes.

Read more in the Guardian

Or just watch the amazing video here

2022 International CleanUp Conference
Call for abstracts
NOW OPEN!  |  Closes: 10 May 2022 
The 9th International Contaminated Site Remediation Conference incorporating the 3rd International PFAS Conference will be held in Adelaide from the 11th to the 15th of September 2022.
Join delegates from Australia and around the world, representing all relevant areas of government, regulators, research and industry. Build professional skills at conference workshops on PFAS management, human health risk assessment, bioremediation and more.
10 – 12 May 2025, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre
Ozwater is Australia’s most prominent international annual water conference and exhibition, considered the highlight of the water sector’s calendar of events.
This year’s theme is Our Water Journey, which celebrates the evolution of the water sector from its rich history, where we are now and what possibilities lie in our future.
SWAN 12th Annual Conference
May 24-26, 2022, Georgetown, Washington, DC and Online

The SWAN 12th Annual Conference is a leading smart water
event in the US and could be a great opportunity to network with progressive utilities, leading experts and thought leaders while exploring global innovative technologies.

The conference will have an online offering which might be attractive to Australian audiences.

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.


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