Small Water & Wastewater System Specialist Network

Overview

The aim of this network is to promote the application and viability of small water and wastewater systems in:

  • Neighbourhoods
  • Industrial facilities
  • Small developments
  • Remote communities
  • Rural and farming
  • Regional areas

The network proposes to:
  • Facilitate knowledge sharing between members in the reticulation and treatment of potable water, stormwater management and reuse, and sewage, its reuse and mining.
  • Encourage a greater appreciation of the sustainability of decentralised systems in the broader water industry across Australia. 


General information about SWWS
Small water and wastewater systems include individual onsite systems for a number of houses, an industry or farming venture through to treatment plants for communities up to a population of 2000.
 
Small water and wastewater systems face unique challenges compared with larger municipal systems. These challenges were recently highlighted in a report produced for Infrastructure Australia which helped to define the current problems facing regional water treatment plants (Q – is this still current? Can it still be utilised as a reference or is there something more recent?). The same issues raised here are often encountered at all SWWSs systems. These included:

  • Limited availability and sustainability of suitably skilled resources 
  • Existing infrastructure is non-existent and/or inadequate
  • Inconsistent capital grant funding mechanisms and processes
  • Higher capital and operating costs for the quantity of product  
  • Lack of protocol and suitable processes for operation and maintenance of existing treatment infrastructure and;
  • Inconsistent implementation and education of appropriate monitoring and reporting for compliance with guidelines and licence requirements
  • Logistical difficulties with sample collection and laboratory analysis (Comment – this is trying to reflect that the collection of some samples need to be kept at a certain temperature yet it takes days for it to get to the laboratory due to the remoteness of the treatment plant or network)
  • Reluctance of acceptance across the private sector.

The acceptance and integration of SWWS, namely decentralized plants, is growing as water managers aim to improve the sustainability of new developments, infrastructure and the urban environment. This includes the use of studies such as an integrated water management plans, to help identify where and how decentralized systems can be incorporated into a master plan for a new development. Likewise, a more holistic system wide approach is being taken to close the water loop which can be achieved through decentralized systems. 

For small and remote communities, the continued progress of the design, construction and operation of appropriate technology of SWWS will improve the level of service that can be delivered.    

Other impetuses for raising the status of SWWS include:
  • Water and energy nexus,
  • Federal and State government funding for community wide stormwater and wastewater reuse projects, Incorporation of water efficiency and reuse in green building requirements.