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Meet the Trailblazers: The Victorian Finalists for the 2024 Australian Water Awards - Who Will Take Home the Prize?

Congratulations to the finalists of the 2024 Australian Water Awards! The winners will be unveiled at the Ozwater'24 Gala Dinner in May. In this edition of VIC Source, we spotlight the Victorian recipients.

Organisational Excellence Award

Environmental Sensitivity Map 
South East Water (VIC)

Environment Compliance Manager, Cody Narlock and Environment Manager, Katrina Hall accept the Organisational Excellence award for the Environmental Sensitivity Map.
The Environmental Sensitivity Map identifies crucial habitats for endangered species, critical vegetation, and assesses the vulnerability of waterways and wetlands. It provides insights into 26 sensitivity categories spanning terrestrial and marine environments, as well as local waterways. Users can type in an address to discover environmental sensitivities nearby, with a color-coded system indicating sensitivity levels on a scale from 1 to 5.


R&D Excellence Award

Biochar to Batteries
Barwon Water, South East Water and The Department of Environment, Energy and Climate Action with Contributing Organisations

The Biochar 2 Batteries applied research project explored the use of biochar, derived from residential organic waste and biosolids, as a component in energy storage systems like Sodium Ion Batteries and super-capacitors. It aimed to assess the technical feasibility while exploring the potential for high-value commercial applications in alignment with the Circular Economy's growth. The project findings suggest that biochar from biosolids can improve Na-ion batteries as anode materials, highlighting significant economic and environmental benefits for the Australian water sector through the production and sale of biochar for battery use.

Infrastructure Projection Innovation Award (Regional)

Beechworth Sewer Upgrade – An Innovative Solution 
North East Water with Contributing Organisations (VIC)

North East Water undertook a $6.5 million project in Beechworth Historic Park, drilling through granite to install a one-kilometre pipeline, marking a significant engineering feat in Victoria. The project, which involved deep drilling up to 50 metres below Ingrams Rock, was designed to address long-standing issues with the Beechworth sewer transfer system. This upgrade has eliminated sewage spills during heavy rain, enhanced environmental protection, and tripled the capacity of the Church Street sewer pump station.

Infrastructure Projection Innovation Award (Metro)

Eastern Treatment Plant Biogas Handling System Stage 1 Upgrade
Melbourne Water and John Holland-KBR Joint Venture (VIC)

Melbourne Water is working towards a Net Zero Target by 2030, leveraging the Eastern Treatment Plant's (ETP) unique capability to convert waste gas biogas into energy, thus reducing the need for natural gas and grid electricity imports. ETP processes nearly half of Melbourne’s sewage and is undergoing upgrades to renew aging assets, improve resilience against disruptions, and ensure operational redundancy and future capacity for processing more biogas. The new facility not only addresses capacity issues by fully utilizing biogas for energy, but also introduces safer, above-ground operations and infrastructure resilience, anticipating future population growth and operational demands. This initiative highlights Melbourne Water's commitment to environmental sustainability and operational efficiency, aiming to significantly lower its carbon footprint and ensure Melbourne's continued viability as a liveable city.


Student Water Prize

Heavy Metals Recovery and Biochar Production from Biosolids via Integrated Mild Acid Pre-treatment and Pyrolysis Processes
Ibrahim Hakeem, RMIT University (VIC)                      

This study developed a closed-loop hydrometallurgical process to efficiently extract and recover heavy metals from biosolids using a mild acid treatment, without losing valuable organic nutrients. The process involves extracting metals in an aqueous phase, then recycling the acid leachate until metal saturation, followed by metal recovery through staged precipitation and adsorption. The method, which also maintains the balance of nutrients in the treated biosolids, demonstrated high extraction and recovery efficiencies, offering a sustainable way to manage biosolids and reclaim valuable metals.

Young Water Professional of the Year

Dr Samuel Skinner, Lead Process Engineer, Water at Aurecon

Dr Sam Skinner is a Lead Process Engineer, Water at Aurecon who leads hydrogen, energy, water, and oxygen (HEWO) projects supporting many water utilities. He focuses on the water industry’s path to net zero and beyond. Sam completed his PhD at Melbourne University on improving water recycling and sludge handling.