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Here’s a first look at the top Ozwater’20 papers

Social distancing and travel restrictions may mean Ozwater’20 can’t go ahead in Adelaide as planned, but the show will go on, with the launch of Ozwater’20 Online.

Rather than presentations packed into three days in May, Ozwater’20 Online will see an entire program of content delivered in June to registered delegates. Think webinars, podcasts and live-streamed sessions you can enjoy from the comfort of your home or office.

The year to-date hasn’t been an easy one for many Australians. We’ve dealt with drought, bushfires, floods and now a pandemic. 

In the face of all this devastation, the water industry has been resilient, adaptable, collaborative and supportive. Water has been at the forefront of political, media and community discussion, and it’s the role of the industry to ensure it stays there beyond any crises.

With the theme of ‘Thirst for Action’, Ozwater’20 Online will shine a spotlight on the big issues of water security, water resilience, sustainability, climate change and the circular economy.

Get a taste of what’s on offer by checking out the top 12 papers below, and then register to hear from the people behind the ideas.

Agile thinking in 24/7 operations

Presented by Elsie Mann, Stantec and Alexander Iannella and Christine Rootsey, SA Water. Tuesday 16 June (Day 5, Week 3).

SA Water has undertaken a project to enhance and upgrade a suite of decision support tools used by engineers, planners and operations staff within the Operations Control Centre (OCC). Using an agile delivery model for the development and delivery of the project, the team was able to manage a complex IT project within a short time frame, implement a range of new technologies and substantially improve the look, feel, usability and performance of the tools to meet current and future business needs. 


Beyond the clutter: A new risk-based assessment tool for safety management on construction projects

Presented by Michelle Oberg and Matt Thomsen, Downer. Tuesday 9 June (Day 3, Week 2).

For a major research project which began in 2018, Downer, Logan Water and Griffith University asked the big question: Do our multiple levels of safety policies, documents, forms, procedures and processes help to keep people safe, or hinder our efforts? Our research into safety management practices on a public / private sector water alliance found that removing ‘safety clutter’ enhanced productivity, culture and team communication.

Using the findings, Downer and Logan Water have moved beyond the experiment to develop strategic tools to identify construction projects best suited for delivery in ‘decluttered mode’. This approach is reducing supervision requirements while maintaining safety. 


Water and liveability - beyond the obvious

Presented by Beata Sochacka, Advanced Water Management Centre, University of Queensland/CRC for Water Sensitive Cities. Thursday 25th June (Day 8, Week 4).

How can water help us make cities more liveable? This study takes the first step in answering this question by undertaking a review of non-academic literature to identify which liveability attributes are being associated with water. We investigate 1) how the concepts of liveable, smart and sustainable cities on the one hand, and water-themed city visions on the other, differ in the liveability attributes they address and 2) contexts and liveability attributes with which water tends to be mentioned.

The investigation suggests that in the conceptualisations of good urban environments, water tends to be addressed along other environmental concerns and in the context of sustainable cities rather than liveable cities. The review also demonstrated that the water-themed city visions, which in principle represent a more holistic perspective on urban water management integrating water planning goals into broader urban liveability considerations, addressed some liveability attributes (eg. flooding, urban heat) but overlooked others (eg. safety, housing). 


SA Water's Smart Networks and technology strategy in a rapidly changing digital environment

Presented by Nicole Arbon, SA Water. Tuesday 16 June (Day 5, Week 3).

SA Water has implemented an engagement strategy involving partnerships with universities, software developers, utilities, technology (including smart) vendors and start-ups. SA Water relies on these partnerships to diligently expand its Smart Network(s) and achieve custom benefits in a rapidly changing digital environment. Investment in and/or adoption of smart analytic technologies is continually validated (or modified) using information obtained from both within Australia and overseas. SA Water has created an internal “startup”, which has access to data, research expertise and development capabilities, and this has led to the creation (in-house) of, amongst other things, an operational machine learning data analytics platform.


Digital meters: Experts back the benefits

Presented by Ian Monks, Griffith University. Tuesday 16 June (Day 5, Week 3).

Digital water meters have not broken through into most Australian water businesses. Their business cases failed to produce sufficient benefits to cover costs, so benefits were catalogued and a taxonomy of benefits was developed. Experts from a cross-section of water businesses were presented a questionnaire covering the researchers’ comprehensive catalogue of possible benefits. This paper documents and quantifies the range of opinions offered by the experts, the treatment of missing benefit value data, the analysis that identified two contexts of benefits, and benefit value probability distributions for those contexts. Some comments on the “don’t know” and “disagree” responses are noted. 


Recycled water for a greener Parkes

Presented by Julian Fyfe, Parkes Shire Council. Thursday 25 June (Day 8, Week 4).

Western NSW is currently experiencing the hard edge of climate change with pressing drought and water scarcity, and extreme heat and intense storms becoming more frequent. Parkes Shire Council has embarked on a journey to future-proof Parkes by establishing a Recycled Water Scheme. The Scheme will deliver significant water and energy savings by substituting potable supply to public open space irrigation. Project delivery has been subject to two sustainability ratings, rigorous climate change risk assessment, and delivered a range of other sustainability outcomes. The challenge now is to fulfil the scheme goals through smart operational strategies and effective governance.


Shrinking the carbon footprint of a water business

Presented by Lauren Randall, Hunter Water and Nathan Malcolm, GHD. Tuesday 4 June (Day 2, Week 1).

Hunter Water and GHD have assessed opportunities for reducing Hunter Water’s carbon footprint. Based on an inventory of current emissions (Scope 1 and 2), an emissions trajectory was developed to represent Business as Usual (BAU). Identification, screening and detailed development of a range of carbon abatement opportunities was undertaken in order to prepare a Marginal Abatement Cost Curve. Future trends and disruptors were explored using scenario analysis, to better understand how the emissions trajectory (and future carbon footprint) might vary under a range of potential futures. Over 10 ‘cost negative’ options were identified that can reduce the emissions footprint by more than 4,000 tonnes of CO2-e per year.


One lagoon too many: Validating a lagoon process model across 30 sewage treatment plants

Presented by Laura De Rango, GHD and Bardia Solati, TasWater. Tuesday 23rd June (Day 7, Week 4)

Various process models and rules of thumb exist for lagoon based treatment processes but rarely is there an opportunity to ground truth empirical equations and process models across a large number of sites with comparable climatic and influent characteristics. To assist with better understanding sewage treatment plant (STP) compliance, identify process improvement strategies and development a robust process model for lagoon treatment, TasWater assessed 30 of its lagoon STPs. The assessment enabled development of a validated process model for forecasting long term performance, establishment of a digital geographical reporting tool to capture and consolidate plant assessments, and identification of a cost effective improvement strategy for achieving effluent compliance.


Creating a machine learning software platform for improved operations and asset management in SA Water

Presented by Dr Mark Stephens, SA Water. Thursday 18 June (Day 6, Week 3).

SA Water has created (in-house) a Machine Learning software platform, for the acoustic detection of pipe breaks and detection of wastewater chokes through flow and depth monitoring using smart technology. The software platform analyses data from SA Water’s Smart Networks and is expanding as new data sources come on-line and further analytics are developed by the collaborative team, including the University of Adelaide. The software platform has been implemented and is being successfully used by SA Water operations to proactively respond and manage issues with water and wastewater assets, to significantly improved the experience of SA Water customers.


The beyond energy neutrality program: How a water utility successfully aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

Presented by Dr Julian Sandino, Jacobs. Tuesday 4 June (Day 2, Week 1).

An energy optimisation program was developed for a large wastewater treatment plant in Denmark, through the analysis of historical operational data, the use of an advanced mass/energy balance simulation tool, and the adoption of a collaborative workshop-based approach in identifying and  evaluating alternatives. The program is an essential element for meeting the operating utility’s aggressive goal of becoming energy self-sufficient and carbon neutral in just over a 5-year period in alignment with several of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Implementation of the recommended optimsation measures has made this plant energy net positive while meeting stringent treated effluent nutrient limits.


A rare insight into the future of Brisbane's water supply

Presented by Ben Tucker and David Nicholas, Jacobs. Tuesday 4 June (Day 2, Week 1).

Jacobs undertook a condition assessment using detailed forensic analysis on rarely available 104-year-old, DN600, cast iron, potable water pipes. The pipes were opportunistically exhumed during a road upgrade project in Brisbane. This supported a broader Linear Polarisation Resistance (LPR) based condition assessment of the critical trunk water main supplying Brisbane’s CBD, for remaining life estimation. Pitting measurements were compared to LPR results obtained from soil samples at the site. The results indicated a highly corrosive soil stratum, a failure was predicted within 10-15 years. The remainder of the pipeline is expected to last another +20 years before replacement becomes necessary.