August Research News
Research Newsletter – August 2021
Welcome to our August 2021 research and innovation newsletter.
Take a moment to immerse yourself in a world where lockdown and quarantine are just words. (I thought it was still looking too serious, so I had to include an article about a Tasmanian museum to animal faeces called a ‘Pooseum’). Yes, that world is here. Hold on tight; you may want to stay.
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 September 2021.
If you’ve stumbled on this newsletter and would like to receive future editions please click this link.
Industry Innovation and Resilience
Image from W-Lab
W-Lab Enterprise Power Hour – 26 August 11:00am AEST

If you’re a member of W-Lab, this is your opportunity to further participate and engage in our top collaborative technology trials.

The Enterprise Power Hour is designed to inform, inspire and capture feedback from our diverse membership.

Your perspective and feedback will support the delivery and guide the scope for the W-Lab Collaborative Trial Proposals exploring the Opportunity Area:

“How might we make better decisions for our core business and future growth by creating insights from internal and external data, that can be easily shared internally and with other industries?”

Register here

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New Zealand Three Waters Reform

In July 2020, the New Zealand Government launched the Three Waters Reform Programme – a three-year programme to reform local government water service delivery arrangements. Essentially the reforms mean:

  • Significantly simplifying the complex local council run arrangements for water, wastewater and stormwater;
  • Maintaining local authority ownership of water services entities;
  • Protecting against privatisation;
  • Retaining influence of local authorities and mana whenua over strategic and performance expectations;
  • Providing the necessary balance sheet separations from local authorities; and
  • Providing an integrated regulatory system.

Read an explanation of what’s happening

The NZ Government recently announced a $2.5 billion package to support local government transition through the reforms. The package also aims to stimulate local economies while creating jobs and unlocking infrastructure for housing.

Read about the funding package here

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InnovationAus 2021 Awards for Excellence

The inaugural 2021 InnovationAus Awards for Excellence are designed to celebrate the best of Australian innovation in the nation’s unique technology landscape, the new platform will identify, highlight and reward the creators and companies underwriting the future of Brand Australia.

The Awards aim to shine a light on Australian teams and innovators, and the contribution they make to build the future of the nation. The Awards will also bring together industry to meet, galvanise ideas and celebrate our achievements.

Register here

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CSIRO Opens Satellite Offering for Earth Observation

The CSIRO is now operating Australia’s 10% capacity share in the NovaSAR-1 satellite mission as a National Facility for research.

It is hoped that the NovaSAR-1 National Facility will enable new remote sensing research, support training on satellite tasking and operations and enhance the development of Australia’s Earth observation and analytics expertise.

The NovaSAR-1 satellite, developed by Surrey Satellite Technology Limited in the UK, utilises S-band synthetic aperture radar (or SAR), providing medium and high-resolution images of Earth from space. The satellite can take images of the Earth through all weather conditions, including heavy cloud and smoke,

Read more here

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The WRF Needs You!

The Water Research Foundation (WRF) is seeking volunteers for three additional funded projects and will soon post Requests for Proposals (RFPs) under our Research Priority Program.

The three research areas looking for your skills are:

  • Advanced Treatment for Potable Reuse
  • Nutrient Treatment
  • Stormwater and Flood Management

Utilities can serve as a test facility, provide samples, respond to surveys, loan equipment, or share staff expertise on research projects of interest.

Get involved here!

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Techlink – A Fantastic Resource

As a WSAA member don’t forget that you have full access to the Water Research Foundation’s Techlink platform. Techlink gives you access to many features, including detailed information on hundreds of technologies.

Members can follow technologies of interest, receive alerts when new technologies are added or updated, comment on technologies, post research and technology needs, contact partners for collaboration and lots more.

If you’re in the mood to browse, or have a problem to solve, you’ll find a treasure trove of technologies waiting on Techlink.

Log in with your WRF password and go browsing here

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Research and Development of Advanced Water Resource Recovery Systems Webcast Series
The Water Research Foundation (WRF) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will be highlighting a select group of advanced water resource recovery system projects recently awarded by DOE totalling $27.5 million US.

These projects aim to help provide sustainable water sources and affordable treatment options to industry, municipalities, agriculture, utilities, and the oil and gas sector. A complete list of the selected projects is available here.

Friday, August 6 | 5 am – 6 am AEST
Friday, August 13 | 5 am – 6 am AEST
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New Environmental Legislation in Victoria

Victoria’s new environment protection laws came into effect on the 1st of July 2021 when Victoria moved from a compliance-based approach to a risk based approach.

The Environment Protection Authority Victoria now has increased powers to prevent harm to the environment and public from pollution and waste including enforcing stronger penalties for polluters.

Under the regulation Victorians also have a duty to understand the risks that their activities cause to the environment and human health and are required to take practicable steps to prevent their actions from causing harm. It will be the first time in Australia that this ‘General Environmental Duty’ is criminally enforceable.

Watch a video here that provides details about the new changes

Watch an interesting panel discussion here (Content starts ten minutes in.)

There are some great resources for the water industry in Victoria here

Water supply and security

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Aither Water Markets Report: 2020-21 Review and 2021-22 Outlook

Aither’s annual Water Markets Reports provide independent analysis and insights on southern Murray-Darling Basin water markets activity and outcomes, as well as an outlook for the year ahead. Now in its eighth year, Aither provides this free report as part of their goal of improving the transparency of Australian water markets information for all market participants.

Register for the free webinar here

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New Tech to Capture Water from Air

Researchers from the Southwest Research Institute think they’ve found a way to extract water from the air. The technology uses silica gel beads to capture water directly from the air.

Researchers claim the technology is scalable and low cost, making it a potential game-changer in countries where water scarcity for domestic uses is a significant problem.

Read more here

Energy and the Circular economy

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Australian-First Tech: Next Step in Waste Transformation Innovation

Researchers from RMIT in Victoria are trialling new technology, the first of its kind in Australia, that uses a unique pyrolysis technology (PYROCO) to destroy pathogens and micro plastics in biosolids, creating high-value biochar.

Partners in the trial include South East Water, Intelligent Water Networks (IWN) and Greater Western Water.

Interestingly the technology can be scaled to any size, making it a possible solution for both urban and regional water utilities.

Read more here

Image altered from Wikipaedia article on Zwitterions
Pioneering Water Treatment Membranes with New Materials

Using technology originally developed at Tufts University, Zwitterco has developed new membranes by combining ‘zwitterions’ with other molecules and producing pores of only a nanometre or two.

These  ‘zwitterionic polymers’ feature molecular chains with equal numbers of positive and negative ions. This characteristic makes these polymers both very hydrophilic but also extremely resistant to the fouling that impacts the filtration efficiency of many other membrane materials.

(Interestingly, Zwitter is German for hermaphrodite)

Read more here

DC Water use Thermal Hydrolysis to Produce High Quality Garden Fertiliser

At Annie’s Ace Hardware in Washington, D.C., among the potting soil and ceramic planters and lawn care items, there’s a relatively new entrant into the fertiliser market. It’s called Bloom and it costs about 50 cents a pound.

DC Water, which manages of one of the largest advanced wastewater-treatment plants in the world, uses thermal hydrolysis to produce 450 tons of Bloom every day.

Read more here

Image by Dale Watson
A Naturally Inspired, Reusable System That Purifies Water and Builds Itself

Researchers from Penn State have developed a new material that has the potential to help remove PFAS from water. The material which forms a fluorine rich film has the capacity to remove persistent fluorine containing pollutants from water.

In tests, the film captured PFAS substances within two hours and was able to hold them for up to 24 hours. From this stage, the film containing PFAS could be agitated to reform itself into a cohesive bead that could be easily collected from the now-purified water.

Read more here

Constructed Wetlands are the Best Protection from Agricultural Runoff

New research from the University of Kansas has found that wetlands constructed along waterways are the most cost-effective way to reduce nitrate and sediment loads in large streams and rivers.

The research team compared potential watershed approaches to improving water quality, such as cutting runoff from farms and adding wetlands, then gauged the economic costs of each. Because most methods rely on voluntary participation by individual farms and are implemented by a patchwork of different agencies, the researchers found they’re less effective.

Read more here

Image by Dale Watson
Turning Pee into Plant Fertiliser

The $3.8M Australian Research Council Hub for Nutrients in a Circular Economy (ARC NiCE Hub) is set to transform the wastewater industry by commercialising urine processing technologies and demonstrating uses of the liquid fertiliser produced.

The initiative, led by University of Technology Sydney, includes five Australian universities, international research collaborators and 13 commercial and government partners who are together contributing an additional $1.8M to the hub.

Read more here

Image from Orenco website

Innovative Wastewater Collection for Post-fire Kinglake

In the wake of the devasting 2009 bushfires Yarra Valley Water has installed an innovative solution for wastewater collection in the Victorian town of Kinglake.

The Orenco Effluent Sewer, a type of pressure sewer also known as a STEP/STEG system, needed to be affordable and effective and also provide environmental benefits. Challenges included small lot sizes, steep gradients, and high rainfall.

The key benefit seems to be that it only requires shallow buried, small-diameter sewer lines that can be quickly installed with light equipment.

Read more here

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Hydrant Bikini Set to Solve Soiling Issues

A fire hydrant protection device being trialled by Urban Utilities could significantly reduce maintenance costs and extend the life of hydrants for years.

The new ant and debris barrier is known as the ‘hydrant bikini’.

The device is a low-cost, simple cover made from wetsuit-like material with an adjustable ring down the bottom that can be put onto existing hydrants without turning the water off.

Read more here

Liveability and health
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash
Green Spaces: A Cool Future

Standards Australia has kicked off a project to develop two handbooks on Urban Green Infrastructure to define consistent terminology and introduce a uniform framework.

Urban Green Infrastructure has been identified as the key to building Australia’s resilience to climate crisis and COVID pandemic.

Read more here

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Passive Sampling of SARS-CoV-2 for Wastewater Surveillance
Researchers representing a brains trust of universities and public institutions from Victoria, as well as researchers from the Netherlands, have published a paper that explains some of their important work to establish a proof of concept for passive sampling of SARS-CoV-2.
The paper homes in on the practical issue of monitoring for contaminants that occur with a high degree of spatial and temporally variability.
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Shark Feasts on Waste in Sydney Wharf

The WasteShark is new to Australia technology that is being trialled at Sydney’s Cockle Bay Wharf. The technology has been designed to clean both man-made and biomass floating debris from the water surface of marinas, harbours and ports, as well as inland water bodies such as dams, lakes and reservoirs.

The WasteShark is a 1.5 m aquadrone that cleans litter and debris from water as it glides across the surface.

Powered by lithium-ion batteries the ASV’s (Autonomous Surface Vessels) are controlled from the shore in either manual or autonomous mode via 4G connection.

Read more here

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31 Cities Commit to Green Infrastructure Targets

Thirty-one mayors have signed the C40 Cities Urban Nature Declaration, pledging to invest in green spaces to improve air quality and bolster protection against climate impacts such as extreme heat, flooding and drought.

The signatory cities, which include Athens, Copenhagen, Los Angeles, Paris and Tokyo, have committed to deliver on one or both of two key targets. By 2030, 30 – 40 percent of city surface area should consist of green or blue infrastructure.

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‘Acceptable’ Lead in Drinking Water May Still Be Harmful to Kidney Patients

Researchers from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston have reported that lead levels in drinking water that are permissible under US standards may be harmful to patients with kidney disease.

Their findings suggest that for those with kidney disease, there is no safe amount of lead in drinking water.

Read more here

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Human Waste Contaminating Urban Water Leads to ‘Superbug’ Spread

Researchers from the University of Birmingham and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh believe that contamination of urban lakes, rivers and surface water by human waste is creating pools of ‘superbugs’ in Low and Middle-Income Countries.

However, they also believe that improving access to clean water, sanitation and sewerage infrastructure could help to protect people’s health.

Read more here

Working with the community
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Why We Need Engineers Who Study Ethics as Much as Maths

This important article from the University of NSW contends that engineers must embrace ethics in a way that previous generations embraced mathematics.

It makes an interesting point that ethics should do the heavy lifting when legal frameworks are lacking.

As you would expect from the Head of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the article makes the case for more comprehensive teaching of ethics within engineering courses.

Read more here

Some interesting things
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Zoom Video Call Is Powered by Google’s Quantum Computer

An international team of researchers has used Google’s Sycamore quantum computer to power an online Zoom meeting for the first time.

The US tech giant’s device, which consists of 53 programmable superconducting quantum bits, has already been shown to outperform classical computers at certain tasks. The new discovery could allow meeting participants to appear in more than one break-out room at the same time – a phenomenon that the team has dubbed “quantum Zoom advantage”.

Read more here

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The Simple Mistake That Stuffed Up World Temperature Records For 90 Years

Stationed in El Azizia, Libya in 1922, it appears an Italian soldier was not paying a huge degree of attention while being instructed on how to take the daily temperature readings.
The unidentified soldier would not have had the slightest inkling that his error a few days later would result in the record for the hottest air temperature on Earth being wrong for 90 years.
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Pooseum: Tasmania Museum Dedicated to Poo Wins Three-Year Battle Over Sign

A small Tasmanian museum “dedicated to all things poo” has won its years-long fight with its local council to display a sign depicting a penguin projectile pooing.

The Pooseum – “where talking about poo is not taboo” – contains a large selection of animal dropping displays and informative exhibitions explaining all the practical uses of dung in the wild and in modern society.

Read more here

Visit the Pooseum here

Water Research Foundation Webcast
Constituents of Emerging Concern and the Emerging Technologies to Treat Them: Past, Present, and Future
3, August, 5:00am AEDT, Duration: 1 Hour
Join the Water Research Foundation for a Moment of Science as they continue their webcast series celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Paul L. Busch (PLB) Award! This award recognises innovative research in the field of water quality and the water environment.
During this webcast, six past Paul L. Busch Award winners will discuss the evolution of constituents of emerging concern and emerging treatment technologies over the past twenty years, how these developments have impacted water industry practices, and what changes they foresee over the next twenty years.
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Aquatech Breakouts Make You Part of the Conversation

Aquatech are holding five more ‘BreakOut’ webinars as we get closer to their November conference in Amsterdam.
The BreakOuts are designed in tandem with the key themes: water quality, digital, desalination & water reuse, industrial/corporate water and resource recovery. Each BreakOut ends with a round table where you can be part of the conversation.
17 Aug  – The future of water
31 Aug  – Evaluating water & resource recovery technology
14 Sept – The value of water
28 Sept – Notable case studies on industrial water treatment
12 Oct  –  Rewarding innovations
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The Water Values Podcast

The Water Values Podcasts provide some great value for water professionals focussing on all things water, with a US bent.
This podcast is sponsored by a number of water-related organisations and large companies in the US.
In the latest offering Locus Technologies founder and CEO Neno Duplan does a great job explaining the steps needed to undertake, and the significant benefits of, a cloud-based digital transformation, and much more!
7th Australian and New Zealand Cyanobacteria Workshop Online
29th & 30th September 2021

This year’s Workshop will be a two-day virtual event, showcasing new research advancements and providing a forum for water supply managers, health officials, ecologists, modellers, toxicologists and research experts in cyanobacterial identification and management to meet and discuss all things cyanobacteria.

The call for abstracts for the 7th Australian and New Zealand Cyanobacteria Workshop Online, has been EXTENDED until 6th August.

Present your work to industry leaders, research experts and colleagues to address the conference theme of “recent Australian and New Zealand research on cyanobacteria with implications for risk management within the water industry.”

register your interest

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 just 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.
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.

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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

Research Noticeboard
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