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WATER + WASTEWATER TREATMENT
‘One of the great things about the ANZBP members, and the
biosolids industry as a whole, is their enthusiasm for sharing. The
industry simply can’t progress without this kind of collaboration
and networking,’ says Kelly Hopewell of the City of Gold Coast.
‘I have been leading a project for ANZBP to examine one of the hot
topics in biosolids: emerging contaminants, and in particular, per-
and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Reaching out to biosolids
professionals across Australia and New Zealand generated a great
response with members who were keen to help in any way they [could]
to explore this potentially complex issue from a national perspective.
‘More detailed results will be released shortly by ANZBP, but very
positively, the data showed that current concentrations of PFAS
are well below biosolids guideline limits, and therefore the risk of
these chemicals in land-application programs is low.’
As well as through collaboration between players involved directly
in the biosolids industry, huge advances can be made through
partnerships between industry and academia. TasWater Scientist
Bill Wood has experienced firsthand the tangible advantages that
these collaborations can offer.
‘Historically, sludge lagoon management has been a challenging
process, with sludge-depth profiling done from a boat, placing staff
at a safety risk and often producing inaccurate data.’
Faced with a need to provide more accurate and repeatable data, and
safer operating conditions, TasWater partnered with the University
of Western Australia (UWA) and the Water Corporation of Western
Australia to pioneer a new technology alleviating these challenges.
‘As part of a graduate research program, UWA has developed
a methodology that uses remotely operated vehicles (ROVs)
together with a purpose-designed software program, Sludgepro,
to survey the sludge lagoons. These small radio-controlled boats
mounted with a marine echo sounder and an in-built GPS allow
operators to obtain a visual of sludge depth and distribution,
together with an estimate of sludge volume on cubic metres and
percentage fill, without having to go out on the water.
‘This partnership between TasWater and UWA has allowed us to
resolve several significant practical challenges, and has opened
up an ongoing collaborative relationship, which gives real-world
grounding to academic research. This is hugely valuable for
TasWater, but also for the progression of the next generation of
water professionals, whose education can be shaped to offer a
better fit for their future employers.’
Staring us in the face
On both a national scale and a regional scale, the value of face-
to-face opportunities to learn from industry peers, academics
and other water industry thought leaders cannot be underplayed.
Hot on the heels of the Australian Water Association’s Biosolids
Conference last November, opportunities to explore biosolids
developments at events in 2017 are coming thick and fast with
Ozwater and ANZBP’s Adelaide Biosolids Roadshow taking place
in May, and the RMIT Biosolids Workshop – Linking Industry and
Research scheduled for August.
Dr Deborah Pritchard, Senior lecturer in the Department of
Environment and Agriculture at Curtin University, regularly attends
these industry events, and is a strong advocate of their value.
‘I think I have been to every biosolids conference that ANZBP
has been involved in over the last 10 or so years! When I first
started in the industry, it was a small sector and it was generally
fairly easy to keep astride of what was going on. Now, with far
more players in the Australian industry and with the increase in
global connections, it’s so important to make the effort to find out
about the latest developments taking place. This is even more
important in Western Australia, as we work with only one utility,
and we are geographically isolated from other players in the
sector. [Attending] biosolids events is a great way to ask questions
about peoples’ work, forge valuable connections and be exposed
to unusual strands of work that may not typically come to your
attention in other ways.
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