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Volume 34 No 7 November 2007

Journal of the Australian Water Association

OPINION AND INDUSTRY NEWS OPINION DBarnes, President, AWA Research and Development TMollenkopf, CEO, AWA The Different Dimensions of Water Our Point of View Scott Delzoppo, Manager, Sustainabilty, Fosters Group Ltd, Water and the Federal Election AWA EDUCATION Water Education Network CROSSCURRENT National Issues and Policy, States, New Reports and Papers, Awards, People in the News AWA MEMBERSHIP NEWS New Members


5 6 8 10 14




21 22

indicates the paper has been refereed )

INDUSTRIAL TREATMENT ~ Rapid Degradation of Industrial Wastewaters: The Ecosynergy™ System Bacteria strains selected for particular wastes LWang MEMBRANE TECHNOLOGY Low-Pressure Membranes Help Solve Water Scarcity ALayson, LSorgini Water reuse is high on the agenda, worldwide RECREATIONAL WATER USE ~ Waterwise Advice on Television Gardening Programs Demand Management on the small screen Frances Bonner Drowning in Disinfection Byproducts? Swimming Pool Water Quality THMs and other toxics exist in pool water CZwiener, S DRichardson, DMDeMarini, TGrummt, TGlauner, FHFrimmel WATER SUPPLY [j] Biological Removal of MIB and Geosmin Through Rapid Gravity Filters Abiologically active sand filter can reduce taste and odour BMcDowall, LHo, CPSaint, GNewcombe llll Shade Cloth Covers Reduce Both Algae and Evaporation Potential for both clear water storages and small dams NFinn, KHunter, S Barnes Planning Non-metropolitan Water Supplies - Can We Do Better? Acondensation of the 2007 ATSE Report BP Neal, TA McMahon PROJECT DELIVERY lil Raising the Bar - Operators' Involvement in Design Take advantage of practical experience in operation ZSlavnic ENVIRONMENT [ii Restoration Plan for a Wetland Affected by Saline Groundwater Trying to protect a Ramsar wetland SJewell, J Muller, ATelfer, MThompson [fflJ Groundwater Reform in the Murray-Darling Basin: Policy Without Action Australia is not short of good policy, but short on implementation Jon Nevill



38 42

48 55 62


69 75


81 100



Microfiltrntion (MF) is becoming the method ofchoice for pretreatment ofwater prior to reverse osmosis, particularly for reclamation ofwastewater. Severn/ major plants in USA andA11.strnlia are equipped with Memcor MF units (see page 34). Photo ofthe West Basin Water Recycling Facility, San Fra11cisco, courtesy ofSieme,zs Water Technologies. Journal of the Australian Water Association



~ AWA CONTACT DETAILS ~ 'Promoting the sustainable •..:::.:.:.. management ofwater' POSTAL ADDRESS PO Box 388, ARTARMON NSW 1570

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Volume 34 No 7 November 2007

AWA WATER JOURNAL MISSION STATEMENT 'To provide o print journal that interests and informs on water matters, Australian and international, covering technological, environmental, economic and socio/ aspects, and to provide o repository of useful refereed papers.' PUBLISH DATES Water Journal is published eight times per year: February, Morch, Moy, June, August, September, November and December EDITORIAL BOARD Chairman: FR Bishop BN Anderson, TAnderson, CDiaper, GFinlayson, AGibson, GA Holder, BLobzo, MMunlisov, CPorter, DPower, FRoddick EDITORIAL SUBMISSIONS Water Journal invites editorial submissions for: Technical Papers and topical articles, Opinion, News, New Products and Business Information. Acceptance of editorial submissions is subject lo editorial board discretion. Email your submissions lo one of the following three categories: 1. TECHNICAL PAPERS AND FEATURES Bob Swinton, Technical Editor, Water Journal: AND Papers of 3000-4000 words (allowing for graphics); or topical stories of up to 2,000 words. relating to oil areas of the waler cycle and waler business. Submissions are tabled al monthly editorial board meetings and where appropriate ore assigned to referees. Referee comments will be forwarded lo the principal author for further action. See box on page 4 for more details. 2. OPINION, INDUSTRY NEWS, PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT Jennifer Sage, Articles of l 000 words or less 3. WATER BUSINESS Brion Raul!, Notional Soles & Advertising Manager, Hallmark Editions Waler Business updates readers on newproducts and associated business news within the waler sector. ADVERTISING Brion Rauh, Notional Soles & Advertising Manager, Hallmark Editions Tel: 61 3 8534 5014 (direct), 61 3 8534 5000 (switch), Advertisements ore included as on information service lo readers and ore reviewed before publication to ensure relevance to the waler environment and objectives of AWA. PURCHASING WATER JOURNAL Single issues available @ $12.50 plus postage and handling; email BACK ISSUES Water Journal bock issues ore available to AWA members at PUBLISHER Hallmark Editions, PO BOX 84, HAMPTON, VICTORIA 3188 Tel: 61 3 8534 5000 Fox: 61 3 9530 8911 Email:

Journal of the Australian Water Association

technical features e eed pa

RAPID DEGRADATION OF INDUSTRIAL WASTEWATERS: THE ECOSYNERGYTM SYSTEM l Wang Abstract Wascewacers from industry often vary greatly in co mpositions and load ings from hour to hou r which adversely affects the performance of conventional activated sludge processes or chemical treatment processes used to reduce BOD to trade waste discharge limits. A new biological process, rhe Ecosynergy™ system, has been developed which uti lises consortia of cultured aerobic, pho rosynrhecic and facu ltative bacteria grown on a matrix of a natural p roduce, which are sp ecifically formulated for particular types of wastewater. This paper reporcs th e results from pilot trials and in situ site applications of the Ecosynergy TM system for different industries with wastes containing sugar, cellulose fibr e, milk, cheese, oil and grease, solvents and emulsions and chemicals (including sanitisi ng chemicals). T he general result is a planr wirh a small footp rint and low pay-back period.

Introduction For a typical ind ustrial wastewater the compos ition of rhe waste is relatively consistent but often varies largely in discharge volumes and concentrations during periods of productio n and orh er activities. Systems using chemical dos ing for pH correction, additio ns of coagulant and fl occulent fo llowed by biological treatment using conventional activated sludge often have problems asso ciated with inco nsistent created effl uent quality as it is difficult to "catch up wirh" che ever-changing incoming waste loadings . In add ition, with more stringent d ischarge limits being sec in place, many existing wastewater treatment facilities require upgrading ro fu rther reduce che contami nant loadings discharged into the receiving bodies, such as the sewer system or surface waters. le is believed that organic matter generally described by such parameters as total o rganic carbon (TO C), chemical oxygen d emand (COD), or biological oxygen d emand (BOD 5), is the main contributing




factor for sewer piping corrosion problems. As the corrosion problem has been aggravated in some industrial complex zones, water boards have set the limits of d ischarge BOD level to less than 60 0 mg/ L. I t is likely that the requirement of lower BOD level permitted for d ischarge will be applied for most regions in Australia in near future.

interspecies (Thiele et al., 1988) . The degradation of organic co mpo unds can be enhanced where selected specialised bacteria, or bacteria as plasmid donors for degradative pathways are added (McClure et al., 1991). Strains from various products availab le in the market are mixed u si ng a specific formu lat ion designed for specific wastes.

Another factor is chat with increasing restrictio ns on water supply, many industries are con sidering water re-use within their own processes, often involving membrane processes. Ir is then necessary to minimise membrane fo uling problems by reducing the organic matters in the wastewater.

The EcosynergyTM system generally consists of two components;

While insoluble organic matter can be removed via physical means of separation or chemical treatment the soluble organic compounds must be decomposed by microorganisms, algae, yeasts and lower fungi. Conventional aerobic and anaerobic biological systems using activated sludge usually require long retention times and stabilised incoming waste loadings so a large balance tank is required. Some high race reactors where b iomedia is used to enhance the biomass concentration often require h igh energy inputs and large settlement areas for separation of the biomass. The general pressure to remain cost effect ive is driving the industry to fi nd new solutions where the system is capable of coping with the ever changing loadings and can be implemented at low capital costs and low operation and maintenance coses.

What is the Ecosynergy™ System? The Ecosynergy™ system has been developed with th e aim of red ucing capital costs and space restraints. The system utilises th e concept of simulating the natural ecosystems where syntrophic interactions are formed between the

Bacteria strains selected for particular wastes.

Journal of the Australian Water Association

1. A natural product containing speci fi cally selected bacteria strains, nut rien ts and a slow release dispersible namral polymeric material acting as granular carrier for the biomass which dramatically enhances the conventional aeration p rocess. 2. A process developed fo r each type of industrial waste such as sugar, dairy, and paper industries where the Ecosynergy™ system can be implemented into the existing treatment system.

Mechanisms of Biodegradation Using Synergistic Bacteria The Ecosynergy™ product establishes an ecosystem simulat ing the natural system where the contaminants are degraded by the naturally developed bacteria. Ecosynergy™ works on a concept that the specific strains concai ned in the product shall be in high concentration to enable the st rains not only to grow in the waste environment, bu t also to dominate the other namrally occu rring bacteria strains, and act together in a synergistic manner. In general the synergistic system emulates the nam ral process of mixed bacteria strains decomposing organ ic matter. The macromolecules of carbohydrates, p roteins and lipids are made accessible for respiration by bacteria via rhe exoenzymes. Bacteria wirh capabi lity of generating enzymes are included in the formu lation. T he enzymes adsorb to the biopolymers and hydrolyse chem to monomers readily for fu rther hydrolysis. The specific strains capable of degrading specific wastes such as sugar, cellulose and fatty acids form an important part of the fo rmulation which is

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technical features ~fereed paper

developed fo r specific industries and sires. Where cleaning chemicals are present, such as caustic soda, acid and detergent, the bacterial strains are especially cultured to cope with rhe challenge. Bio-polymeric floe is formed with assistance of addition of a naturally derived polymeric substance in rhe for mulation. The floe will captu re some inert residue and insoluble BOD to form active biomass.


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1. T he bacteria culture mix requires to be pre-activated in the water for 1-2 hours. 2. COD of wastewater will increase initially after 1-2 hours of application of produce. 3. COD/BOD rapidly drops in the first 4-6 hours d ue to rhe bio-chemical reaction and cell synthesis. 4. COD/BOD will level o ff and sometimes fl uctuates for a period of 6-12 hours depending on the incoming waste characteristics such as loading, loading variation and presence of chemicals. 5. COD/BOD continues to drop rapidly after the hydrolysis period completes. 6. Sludge prod uced by th e Ecosynergy™ system is minimal. 7. The sludge can be furthe r created with a specifi c bacteria mixture to prevent the acidification and fermentation and degrade rhe sludge into liq uid fo rm, which can be consumed by rhe main biological reacting system.

Application of the Ecosynergy™ System To establ ish a valid an d effective ecosystem in the wastewater to be treated requires initial work in rhe field includi ng process review, measurement of wastewater flow rate and profiles, and rhe identification of specific wastes rhat are required to be decomposed by the Ecosynergy™ product. Future changes in product types and contaminant loadings are also considered during the p rocess evaluatio n stage. For a typical industrial sire, bench screening tests of waste toxicity to the strains in the synergistic group are carried our to determine the most effective "working strains" and their supporting network. O nce the fo rmulation is established, the product can be trialled in a small pilot scale or in situ, where rhe product is added into the existing treatment system if applicable. T he product initially is added on a daily





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The interactions between species and balances of energy, bio gas and mass are complicated and the full picture o f mechanisms of the synergistic system is still under research. The general phenomena occurring during the reactio n between the synergy bacteria with organic wastes are as followi ng:


Ecosynergy™ PrOOIICtlorlf)9Clk--


Post conditioning ) + - - - - - I Sludge bloconverter


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1. Ecosynergy™ system basic process.

basis, it can then be reduced to lower dosage once rhe bacteria mixture has become dominant in the system. For some products regular dosing is not required. The dose rate is also dependent on the COD levels in the raw water. Dosage for a typical site is determined during the pilot trial. The basic process for the Ecosynergy™ system is illustrated in Figure I. The raw water from the factory is generally collected in a pir or storage rank. The Ecosynergy™ product can be applied at this point or into the flow metering device, which is a balance rank or a flow splitting or regulating chamber. pH adjustment is often necessary if rhe pH is less than 5 or higher than 10. A continuous aeration process is applied in most Ecosynergy™ systems. Normally it o nly requires a small amount of air, in some cases just half of the air requiremen ts fo r an activated sludge system. The mixed liquor is separated in a clarifier, and the sludge is continuously returned back to the reactor. A small amount of sludge, either on continuous basis or periodically, is wasted into a sludge treatment tan k An Ecosynergy™ product (sludge bioconverter) designed fo r sludge decomposition and prevention of the acidifying process of the sludge is added into rhe sludge rank. T he sludge will be decomposed and become liquid. le is then conditioned by adj usting pH if necessary before being transferred back to the reactor. This process is balanced with added bacteria strains and works synergistically to convert the organic matter into inert material and biogases. The wastewater treatment plant utilising the Ecosynergy™ product generates very little sludge. The sludge generated, if not being returned back to the reactor, can be used fo r raw material for a bacterial methanogenesis process or making organic fertilisers .

Journal of the Australian Water Association

Due to the complexity of the system, and different metabolic cycles of different bacteria groups, it is d ifficulr to explain how the synergistic system works based on mass and energy balance. T he system is developed based on the understanding of functions and capacities of specific strains, and the application of the system into the actual treatment plant is largely dependent on the pilot trial results. T he biogas generated is esti mated based o n the respiration metabolism of specific strains and its food type.

Case Studies Sugar and starch waste degradation trials

The trials utilised specifi cally formulated bacteria capable of co nsuming the carbohyd rates with in a short residence rime. T he system consisted of a simple aerated reactor, and the biomass was removed via a clarifier p rior to discharge to rhe sewer. The formulation selected contained strains which are capable of reducing BOD under both aerobic and anaerobic cond itions. The trials were carried our to investigate the feasibility o f delivering a system with economical capital cost, low operating an d maintenance costs, and an effective pretreatment system for the future wastewater reuse plant. In formation on the bacteria augmentatio n process and details of the trial and results are presented below. Source of waste

Sugar waste containing fru its, vegetable ju ices, cellulose vegetable fibres and potato search and Clean In Place (CIP) chemicals. pH varies from 4 to 12. Wastewater flows and loadings

The daily wastewater discharged to the wastewater treatment plant varies from

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technical features ~fereed paper

120KLD to 250KLD. The BOD 5 loadings vary fro m 1000 ppm to 65 00 ppm. The average BOD 5 is about 3000 ppm

Table 1. Typical variation of pH and BO D loading .

The p ilot equipment consisted of a small pre-treatment tank with an effective volume of 1000L and a large reactor with an effective volume of 8000L. Th e effluent from rhe reactor was gravity fed to a seeding tank with an effect ive volume of 1200L. Sludge from the bottom of ch e settling rank was pumped conti nuously back to che p retreatment ran k. A transfer pump with adjustable speed was used to transfer liquid fro m rhe pre-treatment rank to the large reactor. Aeration was installed in bo th ranks and che amount of air can be regulated .

Collecting time

0.00 1.00 2.00 3.00 4.00 5.00 6.00 7.00 8.00 9.00 10.00 11.00 12.00 13.00 14.00 15.00 16.00 17.00 18.00 19.00 20.00 21.00 22.00 23.00

T he factory waste was d ischarged into a collecting rank and its pH adjusted to between 7 and 9. T he wastewater was pumped co th e p re- treatment rank continuously. T he hydraulic retention rime in che reactor was based on che total volu me of rhe p re-treatment tank and the reactor and rhe transfer p ump race. The trial foc used o n a hydraulic retentio n time of 2426 hours d ue to che sire space limitatio n.

Typical incoming waste and loading distribution A sampler was set up co measure the pH and BOD level in the d ischarged waste on an hourly basis. At chis sire, prod uction starts ac 6am in che morning, and normally fi nishes at 5pm in che afternoon. F rom 4 pm , sanitising of some of the production lines will start and during che n ight most of waste discharged is wash wastes from the sanitising process. The comp osite sample for 24 hours was also measured, with a BOD level of2700p pm. Table 1 summaries a typical profile of pH and BOD.


80D5 lmg/ L) Total non-filtered

6.45 10.2 7.7 7.55 7.38 7.18 5.16 5.3 6.2 6.4 6.1 6.02 11.7 4.5 5.8 6.5 5.86 6.91 11.4 10.6 4.54 6.92 8.1 1 11.4

2500 127 102 66 172 464 2080 3150 5 100 3440 4050 3950 136 3300 1910 1540 1590 2590 968 1560 2180 693 594 290

The reaction race fo r both absorption and hydrolysis stage can be increased when using a bio -attached media, as shown in Figure 2.

D uring p ilot trials, ir was found that the soluble BOD contained in highly concentrated juice products (includ ing fr uit and vegetable products) can be red uced by up co 50 % during rhe first 3-6 hours reaction. The performance can be enhanced ifbiomed ia is added (see Figure 2). As the reaction continues the BOD reduction race will level off between 6 co 18 hours then reduce further after 18 hours reaction. Longer retention rime p rovides lower BOD

As in many food industries, sanitisi ng or clean in place (CIP) often occurs d uring che p roduction period, with some lines going through the cleani ng while the ocher lines are under p rodu ction. However, ic is d ifficult co separate the sanitising or clean in place (CIP) waste from the production

Table 2. Results of Ecosyn ergy™ trial. Composite BOD in feed averag ed at 2700 mg/ L. day pH ot stort of sompling pH at end of sampling pH of composite

BOD5 in treated effluent

7 6.4 6.2 223





6.4 6.2 6 3 10

6.2 5.5 5. 1 410

5.5 5.1 5.8 430

5. 1 6 5.9 395

6, 7 C:




0. 0






5.9 4.5 4.3 397

4.5 11.8 11.2 540

11.8 10 11.4 445

6.6 6.9 7 394

* occidental caustic spill 30 NOVEMBE R 2007


Journal of the Australian Water Association

The lab oratory results from a continuous 10 day trial are illustrated in Table 2. As ind icated in Table 2 , the pH increased dramatically during day 9 and 10 due co an accidental caustic sp ill. During those days, double bacteria dosage was applied into the reactor in order co retai n the bioaccivicy. Strains with a high resistance and high survival race in CIP waste were also added. The system maintained the fu nction of bio degradation, and healthy biomass was observed 2 days after the incident occurred.

waste just relying on instrument control, based on pH variation or rime of the production. The frequent CIP interference may result in loss of biomass. T h is problem is solved by add ing a blend of strains which have a high survival rate in most sanitising chemicals, including chlorine, acids and caustics.

The data shown in Table 1 ind icates char BOD values are h igh during most production hours and low during che sanitising period .

in che treated effl uent, however, due co economic concerns, the retention rime is determined based on che effluent discharge limit.

The biomedia system using a specifi c fibre material was trialled with wastewater containing a highly concentrated vegetable and starch mixture. The BOD red uction rate increased signifi cantly, 9600ppm in rhe feed was red uced co 1200ppm after 22 hour reaction. The bio media material used is a nylon type fibre looped in a shape such that the biomass can be attached within che loops . With gentle aeration, the oxygen is transferred co the b iomass layers which enhance the bio-absorption and hydrolysis processes. The system can be easily installed into the bioreactors or existing faci lities where available sire space is limited .

Project delivery The existing process, as used in many food industry sites, involves a pH correction system, a coarse screen system, and a dissolved air flotation unit. The process was expanded by incorporating the Ecosynergy™ system with the basic process components including balance rank, aeration tank, settlement tank and sludge treatment tanks. The plant was designed based on maximum BOD loading and fl ow rates. The hydraulic retention time was designed based on 150% of the pilot trial data. T he cost of the p roject for a 250KLD plant was substantially less rhan a SBR or UASB system. The operating cost raking into account cost savings in chemical and sludge d isposal, is esrimared at less than 20c/kL water prod uced.

Other Examples where Ecosynergy™ System has been Trialled and Applied Industry: Machinery and drum wash W astewater: Phenol up to 400ppm, oily sludge, solvent, chemicals

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technical features Ill


fereed paper

Application: Daily application of Ecosynergy™ product Trial/process: In situ applicatio n: product applied d irectly into the collecting pit, followed by dissolved air flo atation and med ia filtration Outcomes: Phenol not detected, sludge reduced, no pump out for three months. Industry: Cheese manufacturer Wastewater: Milk powder, fermented d airy waste, whey. BOD up to 15000ppm, T SS over 2% Application: Daily application of Ecosynergy™ p roduct Trial/process: In situ application: product applied directly into the collecting pit, fo llowed by aeration tank, and dissolved air flotation. R etention 12 hr, then extended to 24 hours Outcomes: 12 hour retention: BOD reduced by 30%, odour eliminated, sludge volume reduced by 40 % . 24 h our retention , BOD reduction by 65%, T SS reduced by 80%, sludge pump out is not required (4 month trial). Industry: Chemical blending, emulsion, and dye manufacturer Wastewater: Phenol level up to 500ppm, emulsion wax, dye, starch, solvent and ammonia up to l000ppm. Application: Daily application of EcosynergyTM product Trial/process: In situ application: product applied directly into the collecting pit, followed by aeration ran k Outcomes: 36 hour retention, Phenol less than 4ppm, ammonia less than 50ppm. Sludge reduced by 50%. No chemicals required. Industry: Packaging industry: cans, cardboard Wastewater: Containing metals, solvent, lube oil, ink, starch

Figure 2. Biomedia system (a) w ithout b iomass (b) with biomass attached.

biotechnology using inoculated mixed strains can b e effective in reducing the amount of contaminants discharged into the sewer or water receiving system. The use of naturally derived, n on-generically modified strains and a natural ca rrier material poses minimal risk to the environment and is safe to use fo r the ind ustries even where water reuse becomes rhe main driving force of initialisation of a water project. The successful bioengineering for wastewater treatment may be achieved based on the following factors. Establishment of the correct mixture o f inoculated strains and their supporting network for the specific wastewater generated from a typical sire and then the product can then be applied to similar industries. Minor modificatio ns may still be required d ue to the differences between various sires. The implementation of the process has to be carefully applied based on the factory process where the wastewater is generated. The product can not be applied directly

Application: Daily application of Ecosynergy™ product Trial/process: Pilot trial simulating basic Ecosynergy process. Outcomes: 12 h ou r retention, FOG reduced from 150ppm down to less than l 0ppm. TSS reduced by 90%. Effluent suitable for further treatment to reuse quality.

Conclusions N umerous pilot trials and in situ applications of Ecosynergy™ system in many industries have demonstrated char the

3 2 NOVEMBER 2007




Water Advertising

without process evaluation and in most cases modifications are required. The Ecosynergy™ system is generally capable of delivering a treatment plant with a simple p rocess and low energy consumptio n where very little interactio n is required from operato rs. T he treatment plant usually has a small footprint, due to th e fast react ion rate by applying the · concentrated bacteria. The applicatio n of the system enables many industries to progress fur ther towards the objective of water reuse. Without a biological treated process to reduce and eliminate most soluble organics and carbon sources the membranes in th e reuse process can easily be foul ed, which consequently generates more waste from the memb rane cleaning and rejects. Therefore, it is important to convert the complex waste into more simplified waste via a biological process prior to the physical and chemical treatmen t.

The Author

Dr Lei Wang is rhe Principal Engineer of Syncek Environmental Pry Limited. She has over 18 yea rs experience in industrial and municipal wastewater treatment area. Email lei .wang@synrekenviro nmen

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Journal of the Australian Water Association

Environ. Microbio, 57, 366-373.


non-pressure applications c:> light Weight c:> Matenal Efficient c:> Ease of Handling ¢

Cost Effective Installation Corrosion Reslstanc;e Abrasion Resistance

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Vi~ Systems & Solutions

LOW-PRESSURE MEMBRANES HELP SOLVE WATER SCARCITY A Layson, L Sorgini Abstract One of the most important and most talked abou t issues in the global water industry today is water reuse. As more areas of the world are experiencing drough t, population increase and other water resource constraints, reusing water has become not only a necessity, but has also proven to be eco nomically and environmentally beneficial. Reclamation helps ro conserve limited potable water supplies by substitu ting wastewater, treated to near potable water standards for non-potable uses such as irrigation and industrial process water. Several proven tech no logies are available fo r water reuse applications, in cl uding clarification, granular med ia fi ltration, carbon adsorptio n , low-pressu re membrane fil tratio n and reverse o smosis (RO). Increasingly, low-pressure membranes (microfiltrarion/ultrafi ltration) are being used, due to their excep tional removal capabilities, compact nature and expandab ility. In add ition, the cost of membrane filtrat io n today makes rhe technology more ap plicable on a global scale. This paper foc uses o n the use of lowp ressure memb rane filtrat ion in the global market for water reuse.

Introduction In the United Scares, 74% of total nonsal ine groundwater withdrawals are used for irrigation, 21 % fo r public supply, and 5% fo r self-supplied industrial applications (Maupin, and Barber, 2005). Rising and/or seasonal population shifts, industrial and agricultural expansion continue to bu rden the aquifers and deplete their capaciry. Depletion of grou nd water has spread from small, iso lated pockets to large areas of rhe country, as ground water use has intensified . The consequences of such large scale use are already visible. Loss of springs, streams and wetlands are prime examples. In some coastal communities, the removal of fresh water has allowed seawater to intrude into the fresh water aquifers, resulting in a deterioration of the fresh water supply. When coupled with unp redictable d roughts, the availability of fresh water becomes even less and will




Eraring Power Station

th rearen the economic survival of industries and communities. I n other pares of the world, reuse is becoming law. In Europe, for examp le, the European Water Framework D irect ive places limits on the abstraction of groundwater for industrial uses, with fu ll implementation by 2015. About 70% of the groundwater in Europe is used for industry; the remaining 30% is used for irrigation and drinking. Similarly in China, C hapter 5 of the 2002 Water Law required all industries to extensively reuse water and increase water recovery, especially duri ng new construction or plant upgrades. Both of these laws affect not only new construction, but set standards for existing p lants as well. Industrial plants are the hardest hit and need to fi nd alternative water sou rces, including reclaimed m u nicipal wastewater, reclaiming their own wastewater, even seawater.

Water reuse is high on the agenda, worldwide.

Journal of the Australian Water Association

T he objective is to find alternative sources of water fo r a sustai nable futu re, resistant to drought and adaptable to expansion. Approximately 85% of public waters will return as wastewater to be treated and discharged. In o rder to reclaim chis source, reuse p rojects must emp loy technologies that offer long-term reliable operation, have low operating costs, minimise the use of chemicals and be as compact as possible. Many reuse plants are either constructed on the same premises as existing wastewater treatment facilities or in areas where large space is simply not available, and therefore, have little room for implementation.

Technologies While a multitude of treatment processes can be incorporated to achieve high quali ty reclaimed water, low-pressure memb ranes are able to achieve high quality results in less process steps, with less chemicals and space requirements. In the 1980s, low-pressure membrane fi ltration became econo mically viable as communities around rhe world adopted this advanced technology fo r fil tration of

technical features


Phase 2



Wastewater In

High quality, low salt water


senilipH 01eeble


Membrane tillered water High qu.;lity s..1tqr w.J lcr

Figure l . The Gippslond Water Factory.

surface and groundwater for potable use. The memb rane's ability to remove over 99.99% of pathogens such as Cryptosporidiurn and Giardia cysts reduced the threat of waterborne disease, the consumption of disinfection chemicals and concentration of disinfection by-products. Low-p ressure membranes provide a physical barrier to prevent the passage of suspended

so lids rather than relying on chemical pretreatment and entrainment of solids on granular filter media. The exceptional performance of membranes in this application led to their use in reuse applications and as the preferred pretreatment technology for RO. In areas with existing conventional wastewater treatment, low-pressure

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memb ranes are configured as a tertiary process. Because the effluent is typically clarified, the membranes can run at Aux races of 40 co 60 LM H. Alternatively, lowpressure membranes can be co nfigu red to treat biologically created effl uent prior to seco ndary clarification. These Membrane Bioreacto r (M BR) systems use a comb ination of biological processes with an

technical features

integrated, low-pressure membrane filtration system chat replaces co nventional biological and separation technologies. MBR eliminates the need for clarifiers and other peripherals and can red uce a new plane's overall footprint by more than 50% when co mpared to a conventional biological process. The MBR process typically operates at 20 to 25 LMH, therefore requiring more modules than a tertiary application for the same capacity. Using the same membranes as described above, MBR produces exceptional quality water directly for reuse, including nitrogen and phosphorus removal, or for RO pretreatment.

Reuse Applications The earliest example of water reuse was at the Eraring Power Station, an Australian power company. Eraring Power purchased potable water from Hunter Water Corp. for its boiler feedwater supply. Due to urban growth and an aging wastewater treatment plant, the city had planned on a major (costly) upgrade, which included construction of a pipeline co carry secondary created sewage to che ocean. Through the combined efforcs of the power plant and the water authority, an advanced treatment system was installed that diverted the wastewater treatment plant treated water to the power plant as a new source of water. Feedwater for the power plant was reclaimed water created by an integrated membrane system, including MemcorÂŽ low-pressure membranes from Siemens Water Technologies, and RO. The treatment plant, built in 1995, has the capacity to reclaim up to 7.5 ML/d (2 MGD) for the power plant, irrigation and supplemental supply during drought conditions. T his project has freed up as much as 3 ML/d of fresh water to supply the rapidly growing co mmunity, while saving millions in construction costs by eliminating the pipeline and delaying headwork infrasrrucrure development. The power plant has reduced its boiler feedwat~r coses substantially by using a less expensive and higher-quality water source. Perhaps one of the most talked about global water reuse undertakings is currently ongoing in Brisbane. Drought and population increase has created a severe water shortage, resulting in Level 5 water restrictions for much of the region. State and local officials implemented measures to ensure the existence of a reliable source of water for non-potable use. The Western Corridor Recycled Water Project will provide 310 ML/d (80 MGD) fo r both domestic and industrial use. T he project will rake municipal wastewater from area wastewater 36 NOVEMBER 2007


Memcor CP system installed at the Bundamba AWTP. plants and treat it to high quality standards at three separate facilities using a tertiary low-pressure membrane approach . A major facility in the scheme will be the Bundamba Advanced Water Treatment Plant (BAWTP), which will treat 66 ML/d (17 MGD) by mid-2008 with ultimate expansion to 100 ML/d (26 MGD). Ar this facility, domestic wastewater is harvested from four wastewater treatment plants. Effluent is combined and sent to the BAWTP. Similar to the Eraring facility, effluent is created using Memcor low pressure membranes and RO. The plant will be constructed in two phases. Currently, Bundamba A has been installed and is on schedule fo r completion of performance resting by October, 2007. Bundamba B is still under construction, with estimated completion by mid-2008. Also in Australia, the Gippsland Water Factory, a recycling system for the Gippsland region of Victoria, will use lowpressure membranes in an MBR co nfiguration prior to treatment by RO . The MBR system will produce up to 44,.5 ML/d with 8 ML/d pol ished through RO. The plant will treat both municipal waste and industrial waste. T his Class A recycled water will be used by a local paper mill (Figure I). The Gippsland Water Factory project wi ll be the first of its kind in Australia, highlighting Gippsland as a leader in sustainability and innovation. Produci ng high-quality recycled water for use by local industry will conserve potable water in this drought-stricken area. Ann ually, around three GL/a of Gippsland's potable water resources will be freed up for other

Journal of the Australian Water Association

purposes, such as drinking water supplies and environmental flows for the region's rivers and creeks.

Conclusion Technological advances in wastewater treatment systems have made environmen tally conscious water reuse projects possible. Water reuse provides economic adva ntages for industrial co nsumers, preserves sca rce water so urces and gives municipalities a marketable product from water they previously "flushed down the drain". Many reuse planes around the world have incorporated low-pressu re membrane filtration and reverse osmosis in treatment of wastewater. The recovered water is used for irrigation, replenishment of ground water, seawater intrusion barrier, industrial co nsumption an d other applications. These reuse plants are models of effective water resource and environmental management char create sustainable water supplies, beneficing industries and com munities alike.

The Authors

Andrew Layson is Products Manager, Memcor Products, Siemens Water Technologies, Australia, Lisa Sorgini is Global Brand Manager, Memcor Products, Siemens Water T echnologies, USA.

References Maupin, M.A., and Barber, N.L., 2005, Escimared withdrawals from principle aquifers in the United Scates, 2000: U.S.

Geological Survey Circular 1279, 46 p.

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~fereed paper

WATERWISE ADVICE ON TELEVISION GARDENING PROGRAMS Frances Bonner Introduction This scudy is part of a larger project into the advice that television presenters give viewers. I regard these presenters as cultural intermediaries disseminating contemporary 'wisdom' from various sources - including rrendsetters, big corporations, public health officials or at times their own professional training to those sections of the wider society that watch their shows o r talk about them . Because of the mainstream sracus of their primary medium, they are unlikely to m ediate cutting edge advice, but they do have the potential to reach large numbers of o rdinary people. Thar section o f the scudy which is reported here looks at ethical concerns like organic and wacerwise gardeni ng. In the fo rmer case presenters have been significant in the sh ift of organic gardening from the margins closer to the centre, bur waterwise Josh Byrne, presenter on Gardening Australia. gardening, as a specific separate topic, is a much m ore recent phenomenon, and one where in tandem. In essence waterwise gardening television has acted in tandem with quite h as now become an inescapable part of forma l regulation. television advice. Whether p rograms were Water Wisdom commercial or on p ublic broadcasting channels, attention has had to be paid to Nthough I have been looking specifi cally at the consequences of d rought, but organic waterwise gardening advice only since midgarden ing remains optional, and does not 2006, I have analysed garden makeovers have much p resence on commercial and Burke's Backyard for several years, and television. The focus in what fol lows will be it has become very clear that organic primarily on water wisdom. gardening and water wisdom are not acting T hi s paper was origin ally presented at a con ference "New Directio ns in C u lt ural Research in Water". Paramarra, July 2007.

Australia's Best Backyards on C han nel 7, and Garden Gurus, together with a few old but p reviously unscreened episodes of Backyard Blitz, on N ine. Pay TV provides repeats of so me of these and earlier shows p lus som e imports, as well as the Australianmade Moar Gardening, bur the percentage of the population actually seeing these is tiny. Although the lase (held over) Backyard Blitz e pisodes were still screening at the rime of writing, and segm ents of Better Homes and Gardens and sections of the real estate programs do still makeover gardens, stand alone garden makeover shows ended in 200 6. It is unclear whether their disappearance was caused in part by the cen trality of water feacures and instant lawn to producing the dramatic visual transformation the genre dem and s. Despite their fondness for these thirsty elem ents, they did occasionally have waterwise moments. These centred on plant selection, especially of stri king xerophyric examples, bu r they also advocated the use of aesthetically p leasing mulch. I even recall

C urrently Australian free-to-air gardening television is comprised of Gardening Australia on the ABC, Vasili's Garden on SBS, Better Homes and Gardens and

Demand management on the small screen.



Ph: 07 3390 7166



Fax: 07 3390 7177 Email: info@allflowsupply.corn .au Web:


Journal of the Australian Water Association

• • • • • • •

Automation Data Logging Pressure Control PH / ORP Flow Meters Plastic Piping Systems Automated Meter Reading Equipment • Under Pressure Tapping Equipment

technical features

one instance of D!Y Rescue, a show rhar was only broadcast in 2003, where the gardening expert refused to lay instant turf, because rhe garden concerned was located beyond town water. Makeover shows - and the same applies to makeover segments within the remaining programs - are primarily concerned with fast garden design rather than with the practice of gardening, so appropriate plane selection is rhe key wacerwise activity. Ir is usual for there to be two garden-related segments in each episode of Better Homes and Gardens and while the program does address water use, neither of these regularly gives advice on rhe matter. A recent segment chat was promoted as instructin g viewers on making a warerwise garden, involved making a (far from cheap) chequerboard of paving and succulents. Commercial programs are very fond of ha rd su rfaces an d fa r more likely to see them as so lutions. When they talk of rainwater tanks, their design is of prime importance.

Australia's Best Backyards visits five large and small gardens each episode co choose which one is best, predominantly in terms of design. Since the large gardens, which are usually those which win che week's nomination , often inco rporate large bodies of ornamental water and very substantial plan rings, rhe question of water use needs co be visited. The co mmon answer in volves significant water works, like dams, water recirculation systems, and plant-based grey water filtration systems. Acknowledgi ng rhar many of the gardens visited cannot speak directly to the gardening practices of rhe majority of viewers, the hose, Jamie Durie, provides small-scale instructions based on aspects of the properties just shown, bur these rarely involve water use. When Gardening Australia talks of wacerwise gardens, ir rends co fo llow one of two patterns, the fi rst involves garden visits

Vasili's Garden demonstrates ways that gardeners are coping with drought.

co large, often public, gardens specifically to recommend plants and practices for home use. T he other pattern involves irems shot in the homes of the presenters, particularly Jerry Coleby-Williams and Josh Byrne who have been demonstrating sustai nable and permaculrure gardens respectively for the lase year or so an d both of whom are concerned with warerwise practices. Because we have been shown the development and install ation of these gardens, viewers are aware rhar starting off these garden styles is also not a cheap option; however much their coses are amortised in the long run. Viewers have also been shown the necessity for professional advice. Techni cally, they coo could be co nsidered makeovers, bur rhey are far slower and coo thorough-goi ng for the term co be useful. Occasio nally, a visit co a school demonstrates direct education of young people in responsible gardening practices.

The real difference comes with the newest of rhe gardening shows - SBS's Vasili's Garden. This ex-community television show, still defia ntly showing irs origi ns, is comprised ove1whelmingly of garden visits, with rhe host, Vasili Kanadiadis, dominating proceedings. Vasili 's Garden looks particula rly different because un like the previous rwo shows, aesthetics is nor the major consideration. Ir is nor jusr a different aesthetic in operation, bur a different valuation. Good gardening here prod uces fruit and vegetables, especially to matoes. Only two shows in rhe fi rst series visited gardeners whose interests were otherwise and while everyone else has been of Italian, Greek or central European origin, these were rhe only Anglos, one growing cacti and succulents and rhe other bonsai. Only occasio nally and very much in passing does the camera show any part of a garden ocher rhan the productive parch; flowers are an irrelevance. The co nsequence of ch is and of the types of gardeners visited is to represe nr on television a type of gardening heretofore lirtle represented rhough much practiced. Regardless of the actual class of rhe people visited, rhe impress ion rhe show gives is of working class gardening, of people making do rat her than spending up big on an outdoor room . Organic practices are taken for granted; Vasil i will name a garden organ ic, but rarely expatiate on what makes it so. Water use though is central - the program is shor in Melbourne and the intractable materiality of a drought and water restrictions means rhar rhe gardeners must have developed ways of coping if they are co have the requisite fruit and vegetables. T hey value their plants highly bur they are also practical people. The question of how they respond and keep their gardens watered is regularly visited. T he program is not afraid of repetition, so even when the same response is forthco ming most weeks, the

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Journal of the Australian Water Association


NOVEMBER 2007 39

techn ical features refereed paper

gardeners are asked what they are do ing and they persistently answer: storing rainwater. But this is all ve1y rough and ready - 44 gallon drums and wheelie bins full of water are stashed thro ugh out the sections of the gardens we see. There are no designer tanks or drip irrigation systems here - indeed rarely any purpose-made tanks of any kind . The pattern then is established. Commercial shows unsurprisingly promote consumption. Water wisdom involves buying new tanks, more pavers or other hard su rfaces and new plants. T h e ABC is less concerned with co nsumption, though its persistent display of the installation of systems to reuse g rey water endorses the lifestyle of the green consumer. Despite its increased advertising, SBS, probably because it bought the community television ethos alon g with the program, is anticonsumption; people recycle in ways reminiscent of the 1950s rather than today.

In additio n to explicit garden shows, the last eigh teen months have seen rhe growth of related green programs. There have been one-offs like C han nel 7's Great Water Challenge and C hannel 9's Water Foreve1~ while existing programs like the ABC's The New Inventors and 9's Garden Gurus (usually a garden rips show close to advertorial in style) have aired water

specials, the latter even shi fting from thei r regular 5pm slot to 7p m. These are not necessarily all focused on gardening. The New Inventors spent a little less than half the time in this way: visiting M ichael Mobbs' house and showing his watering system as well as looking at the commercial success of two past 'inven tions': an innovative tank design and a filtration system. T he latter involved a rare occasion as far as television is concerned for discussion of the problem of long-term use of unfi ltered grey water containing phosphates on gardens. There is also a new category of green reality shows: SBS's Eco-Challenge and the ABC's Carbon Cops, though no sign yet of commercial versions. The experts in these programs work with fami lies to improve their household carbo n fo otprint and allround enviro nmental sensitivity. Water wisdom is often part of the change required of the targeted families, bu t it is one o f the smaller elements and even then gardening is only som eti mes part of it. Far more attention is given to power and transport. The recommended garden measures involve installing the usual public broadcasting solu tions of grey water treatment and reticulatio n systems, while SBS promoted native gardens. Neither rakes the approach th at address ing that aspect of a changed

approach to consumption th at of necess ity must be engaged with now, i. e. water wisdom, might be the spur to a more thorough-going reconception of how we re-orient o ur current pro fligacy . In an article on the growth of the ecologically aware co nsumer, Michael Man iates wrote, not happily, of the "growing allure of consu mption-as-socialactio n". While gardening is probably not the principal site of this - fo odstuffs are fa r m ore implicated - there are traces of th is perspective to be fo und. These are not so much in the co mmercial shows which favou r consumpt io n for its own sake, but with the public broadcasters (taking Eco House Challenge as more indicative than Vasili's Gardens). Ir is p robable that the socially aware ABC o r SBS viewer is more likely ro be a green consumer and ro see their new g rey-water systems o r thei r sustainable gardens as representing a lifestyle or even a socio-political change, rather than just a gardening choice. Work needs to be done on this to see whether it can be pushed as a vector for social change.


W hat is most distinct ive about waterwise gardening as depicted on television is the level of unanimity despite the differences noted . The inescapable co mbination of drought and water restrictions has meant chat adv ice m ust address ways to garden differen tly and unlike o rganic gardening which some programs happily ignore, all shows need to speak with one voice on water use, even if the solutio ns they endorse vary. It wi ll be in format ive to see what changes to Australla's largest the shared commonsense about trench shleld b eing waterwise are introduced as 7.3111 long II 1.8m high and up 1D '-Om wide to (or if) dam levels rise. Will the II.Om dNp In IIINt llPN of ground mainstream ing of climate change Weltlha In at only 2.1 toMM with 1.8111 apl'Mdw ban, responses main rain the current within the Nfe lifting NIMIOIII' of • 28 tonne excavator situatio n?


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The Author Dr Frances Bonner is a Reader in Television and Popular C ulture at the Un iversity of Queensland's School of English, Media Studies and Art H istory. H er current research focus is twofold: television p resenters, an d heal th coverage in women's magazines, email

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Man iaces, Michael F "Individualization: Plant a Tree, Buy a Bike, Save the World?" Global Environmental Politics 1.3 August 2001 3 1-52.




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DROWNING IN DISINFECTION BYPRODUCTS? SWIMMING POOL WATER QUALITY C Zwiener, S D Richardson, D M DeMarini, T Grummt, T Glauner, F H Frimmel Editor's Note. This paper is a shortened versi on of the paper published in Environmental Science & Technology 41 (2) , 363-372, Jan 2007: Copyright 2007, excerpted w ith the permission of the American Chemical Society. The original paper contains much more detail and is very thoroughly referenced. Abstract Disin fection is mandato ry fo r swimming pools because transmission of disease by bacteria, virus and protozoa is rhe most significant health issue. However another issue arises, and care should be taken to minimise the risks from disinfection byproducts (DBPs). Public pools are usually disinfected by gaseous chlorine or sodium hypochlorire; h ome pools typically use 'stabilised chlorine'. The use of chlorine p roduces a variety of d isinfection byp roducts (DBPs), such as rrihalomerhanes (T H M s), which have been detected in the blood and breath of swimmers and of nonswim mers at indoor pools. Also produced are halogenated acetic acids (HAAs) and haloketones, which irritate the eyes, skin, and mucous memb ranes; rrichloram ine, which is linked with swimmi ng pool-associated asth ma; and halogenated derivatives of UV sun screens, some of which show endocrine effects. Precursors of DBPs include human body substances, chemicals used in cosmetics and sun screens, and n atu ral organic matter. A 1.6- 2.0-fold increased risk for bladder cancer has been associated with swimming or showering/bathing with chlorinated water. Bladder cancer risk fro m T H M exposure (all routes combined) was greatest among those with the GSTTJ-1 gene. DBPs may be reduced by engineering and behavioural means, such as applying new oxidation and fi ltration m ethods, reducing bromide and iodid e in the source water, increasing air circulation in indoor pools and assuring the cleanliness of swimmers. The positive health effects gained by swimming can be increased by reducing all potential adverse health risks.

Introduction Swimming can p rovide health benefits and has some advan tages over land-based

activities fo r people of all ages and physical ab ilities . To conserve the positive aspects of aquatic activities, regu lators and researchers have turned their attention to hygienic and chemical water q uality. Thus, pool water an d other recreational waters are increasingly regarded as a health priority around the world. The World Health O rganization has identified some of the potential haza rds associated with recreational water use, which include infections caused by fecesassociated m icrobes, such as viruses and bacteria, as well as protozoa, such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium, which are res istant to chlorine and other pool disinfectants. The goal is ro prevent illnesses associated with recreatio nal water use and to minimise any health im pacts from excessive DBPs. Swimming pool water is a dynamic environment that changes with the cl imate, the number and behaviour of people in the pool, activities of the swimmers, as well as environmental contaminants brought into the pool by a wide range of people: young children, pregnant women, the elderly, people with compromised immune systems, O lymp ic athletes, etc. This is a challenging environment in which to achieve a suitable pu blic health ou tcome.

Treatment Characteristics of Public Swimming Pool Water In the U nited States, rhe individual states regulate swi mming pools, and responsibility is generally assigned to the departm ent of health of each stare. The codes in the US are generally similar to those in Germany and typically describe requirements regard ing construction, operation and maintenance of the pool, as well as

THMs and other toxics exist in pool water.

42 NOVEMBER 2007 Water Journal of the Australian Water Association

maintaining water quality. Publ ic pools in Germany rely primarily on rhe treatment scheme, operatio n, and su rveillan ce described in the German DIN l 9643. Despite minor d ifferences in threshold values, ap plied chemical concentrations, and rhe requirement for an initial flocculatio n step, rhe D IN I 9643 can serve as a good examp le of pool water treatment ch at is si mi lar to char in much of Western Europe, North Am erica, and Australia. To achieve a sufficient d isin fectio n capacity, in Germany the concentration of hypochlorous acid (so-called free chlori ne) must be kept in rhe range of 0.3-0.6 m g/L in pool water and between 0.7 and l .0 mg/L in spas (at a pH range b etween 6 .5 and 7 .6; DIN 19643). In rhe United Stares, the UK, and Australia, hypochlorous acid concentratio ns of 1-3 m g/Lare recommended. Alternatives to chlorinebased dis infectants are nor yet permitted in Germ any. In rhe United Stares, alternative disi nfectants must demonstrate a disinfection efficiency equivalent to that of hypoch lorous acid. As noted above, floccu lation is generally nor used other than in public pools in Germany. Instead, filtration is often done with cartridge fi lters, which provide good water quali ty, are easy to maintain , and are relat ively cheap . Diatomaceous earth fil ters p rovide the best water q uality, bu t they are the most expensive pool filters generally available. Stabilised chlorine, typically trichloro-Srriazinetrione in stick o r rabler fo rm, is often used for disinfection of home swimming pools. One mole of trichloro-Srriazinerrione reacts in water co form on e mole of cyan uric acid and 3 moles of hypochlorous acid , rhe active disinfectant. Alternative disinfectants include bromine, ozone, copper, and silver salts; however, these are not wid ely used and are nor expected to replace chlorine-based chemicals in the next years.

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Bather Load and Treatment Swi mming pools generally involve constant recirculation of the water at elevated temperature and continuous loading of the water with organic carbon and nitrogen from swimmers, as well as the exposure of the pool water to sunlight. T he bather load comprises a variety of substances such as body fl uids, skin particles, hair, microorganisms, cosmetics, and other personal-care produces chat can gee into the pool water. Consequencly, substances chat are not removed efficiently by the treatment process can accumulate. In general, the operation of the flocculation/ fil tration step fo r removing particles and microorganisms remains constant, independent of the number of swimmers, the degree of organic con tamination, or other water-chemical parameters. However, this standardised treatment may not be adequate for pools with a highly dynamic bather load and the concomitant organic contamination found in open-air pools. Figure 1 shows an example of the accumulation of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and the format ion of coca! orga nic halide (TOX) and T HMs in a public outdoor pool with flocculation and fil tration treatment. Scarring from a cold weather period with low numbers of pool visitors, a hot weather period with a large increase in vis itors (gray co lumns) is mirrored by high values of DOC. Ar the same rime, the increase ofTOX and THMs occurs 24 and 48 h later, respectively. T hese results can be interpreted in two ways. First, there is no efficient elimination of the organic bather load by the treatment process at high bather loads. Second, a swimming pool can be considered as a kind of "DBP reactor" where rhe continuous input of anthropogenic substances and the continuous dosing of reactive chlorine in each treatment cycle results in partial removal of DOC and accompanying formation of DBPs. The reasons fo r the ti me-shift of TOX and T HM formation are related more to the number of treatment cycles needed for efficient chlorination than co diffe rent for mation kinetics. In general, organic matter in pool water is subjected to exhaustive chlorination, and after several treatment cycles, no further TOX formation can be measured in pool water (e.g., in the early morning) without freshly introduced contamination. In addition, part of the accumulated organic matter on a loaded sand filter may be another source for DBP formation. Experiments with a pilot plant support the assumption that DOC removal is obtained by DOC oxidation by chlorine because a steady scare is achieved




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0 1







Time (days) Figure l . Profiles of DOC, TOX, a nd THMs in water from a public outdoo r pool for a o ne-we e k period in the su mmer of 200 l . The co lumns represent the visi tors per da y; Cmax(DOC) ) 3. 4 mg/L; Cmax(TOX) ) 329 f)g/ L; cmax(total THMs)) 125 f)g/ l.

with a continuous DOC load and chlorination. Mineralisation and volatilisation seem co be the only convincing explanations fo r DOC removal. This fi nding suggests that classical pool water treatment under co nstant operating conditions has to rely on a recovery period during wh ich there is no input of bathe r load.

New Treatment Technologies New treatment technologies for swimming pool water should have features char permit chem co address the constancly changing bather load and meet the following requirements: (1) removal of particles and microorganisms; (2) removal or minimisation of organic matter and lowmolecular-weight DBPs; and (3) efficient disinfection with minimal DBP formation. Membrane filtration has emerged as a promising treatment method as an alternative co flocculation and traditional filt ration with sand or diacomaceous earth because it can reduce DOC to a much greater extent and does not produce much waste compared co the suspension/ filtratio n. Membranes designed with a low molecular weight cutoff (10 000-40 000 Da) can eliminate up to 60% of the DOC. Compared co sand filtratio n, ultrafiltrarion membranes also have a higher efficiency for removing particles and microorganisms. In a recent study, particle counts in the effluents of an ulrraftltration module and a multilayer fi lter were about 2/mL and 100/mL, respectively. Further, the application of a pilot-scale membrane filtration module in a public outdoor pool

Journal of the Australian Water Association

led to lower chlorine co nsumption compared co sand filtratio n. However, efficient DOC and TOX removal requires fil tration with a much lower molecular weight cutoff. TOX fractionation with membranes with a molecular weight cutoff of 1000 and 200 Da showed that only about 30% ofTOX was found in the <200 Da fraction, whereas about 50% appeared in the 200-I 000 Da fract ion; a minor part (<1 0%) was present in the >1000 Da fraction. Therefore, advanced oxidation processes like hydrogen peroxide/ozone in combi nation with nanoftl rrarion were proposed for the removal of the low-molecular-weight fractio ns, which are also responsible for much of the irritation and health effects caused by DBPs in swimming pool water. Moreover, the nonvolatile, low-molecularweighr fraction was fou nd to contain the majority of genotoxic compounds present in pool water. These and other new techniques require further study to determine if they are any better than conventional treatment methods.

THMs and Other DBPs in Swimming Pool Water Reports on THMs in swimming pool water first appeared in 1980. Since then, THMs have been measured in swimming pool waters around the world. In 1993, THMs were also included as indicators for DBP formatio n in pool water in the German DIN l 9643. Similarly, THMs were also viewed as an indicator for other chlorination DBPs when they were regulated under the US Safe Drinking

technical features

Water Act in 1979. However, controlling T HM levels may not always control the levels of ocher DBPs. For example, low pH can reduce THM formation but can cause sign ificant in creases in rhe form ation o f haloaceric acids (HAAs). In addi tion ro chlori nated DBPs, brom inated and iodinated compounds are also of roxicological co ncern. Brom inaced HAAs and aceronicriles and a few ocher targeted chlorinated DBPs, such as chloral hydrate, dichloroaceronicrile, and 1, l , 1crichloropropan one, have been id entifi ed previously in swimming pool water. No iodinated compounds, which can be important in spas with high iodide concentrations in water, have been identified in pool water so far. Another emerging co mpound class o f compounds of concern in pool water are the halokecones, which can irri tate the eyes, skin, and m ucous membranes and also the chlorami nes, especially crichlo ramine, which is formed from u rea and ocher nitrogen-containi ng compounds. Trichloramine is a highly volatile and irritating compound char has raised concern recently as an irritant to the respiratory trace as well as having a possible role in asthma. Unlike drinking water, where organics in the source water are the substrate fo r DB P formation, swimming pool water has additio nal sources of compound s chat can serve as precursors ro DB Ps. These include ch emicals used in sunscreens, human body substances (persp iration, urine, mucus, skin particles, hair, ere), leaves from surrounding trees (in the case of outdoor pools), algae, and ocher biota, as well as any natural organic matter already present in the sou rce water. T his bather load adds an additional complication to the disin fection and toxicological safety of swimming pool water.

Editor's note: Zwiener et al. then report sophisticated studies that identify some new DBPs identified in swimming pool water, such as aldehydes, and dicarbonyls, including several active ingredients ofsunscreens and their halogenated reaction products.

Exposure Routes Human exposure studies have shown that T HMs can be found in the blood, plasma, and exhaled breach of swimmers and even of non-swimmers within an indoor pool setting. In halation and dermal exposures are likely co be importan t routes of h u man exposure co volatile DBPs in swimming pools, with ingestion from accidental swallowing of water being a minor route. Swimming in chlorinated pools and the use




pattern of drinking water are the main determinants of blo od levels of T H Ms. Mothers who swam regularly received greater doses of chloroform than nonswimmers, revealing chat THM blood levels were determined largely by pool attendance, which was infl uenced by frequency, activity, and THM levels in the pool water. Inhalation is an important route of exposu re for these classes of DB Ps, especially fo r swim mers (and lifeguards and other non-swimmers present) in indoor pools and ro a lesser extent for those in outdoor pools.

Epidemiological Studies The strongest ep idemiological evidence for adverse health effects from swimmi ng in ch lorinated pool water has come from studies on respiratory function, asthma and recurrent respiratory tract and ear infections. N itrogen trichloride (trichloramine) at 100-570 Âľg/m 3 in the air was a possible cause of occupational asthma among two lifeguards and a swimm ing teacher. It has also been implicated as a cause of eye and upper respiratory tract. Chlorinated whirlpool baths have been shown to increase ai1way reactivity in patients w ith mild asth ma. In contrast ro resp iratory effects, very few other health end-points have been investigated for swimming pool water. No adverse effects have been o bserved fo r reproductive endpoints; however, a new study shows a significant increased risk of bladder cancer for swimmers vs non swimmers. Bladder cancer has also been the primary adverse health endpoint associated w ith drinking water DBPs. Laboratory studies indicate that dermal/inhalation exposure would permit the activatio n of selected T H Ms by GSTTl-1 in target organs, such as the bladder, whereas oral exposure (i.e., dri nking the water) would result in the inactivation of these T H Ms by enzymes in the liver. Thus, the emerging epidemiology on d rinking water and route of exposure and genocyping provide some

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Journal of the Australian Water Association

basis for additional stud ies of the potential carcinogen ic effects of swimming pool water.

Editor's note: Zwiener et al. then discuss toxicity effects in some detail.

Measures to Control DBPs in Swimming Pool Water Measures to control the for mation of D BPs in pool water should include reducing rhe inpu t of DBP p recurso rs (natural organi c matter and bather load inputs) and improving creacment technology. T he bather load can be reduced considerably by the behaviour of swimmers before and during swimming. For example, showeri ng and usi ng toilet facilities, washi ng off sunscreen lotions, and applying water-tight d iapers can reduce the bather load and help to reduce rhe potential for DBP formation. From a technological point of view, rhe treatment efficiency ro reduce DBP precursors and already-formed DBPs can be improved by more efficient fi ltration and oxidation. T h is includes membrane filtrat ion and ad va nced oxidation. Removal of the low-molecular-weight fraction would be ad vised because ir contains a large p art of rhe toxicity. Toxicity data also suggest keeping bromide and iodide concentrations in pool water low and not using bromine because brominated and iodinated DBPs have been found to be even more toxic than chlorinated DBPs. I t may also be benefi cial co increase air circulation in indoor pool settings ro reduce che levels of volatile DBPs.

Conclusion In the end, it will be important to maintain microbial d isin fection while minimising potentially harmful DBPs. T he goal would be to maintain the positive health effects of swimming through exercise while reducing ocher potential adverse health risks.

The Authors T he authors are from U niversiraer Karlsruhe; US EPA, Athens, Geo rgia; US EPA, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina; The German Federal Environmental Agency, Bad Elster. Corresponding author email: christian .zwiener@ciw. Disclaimer: This paper has been reviewed in accordance with the US Environmental Protection Agenry's peer and administrative review policies and approved for publication. Mention oftrade names or commercial products does not constitute endorsement or recommendation for use by the



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!fereed paper

BIOLOGICAL REMOVAL OF MIB AND GEOSMIN THROUGH RAPID GRAVITY FILTERS B McDowell, L Ho, C P Saint, G Newcombe Abstract The earthy-musty tastes and odours caused by the algal-derived compounds MIB and geosmin are a constant challenge co water treatment auth orities. Historically, the produce water of the Morgan water treatment plant in South Australia has had geosmin levels b elow 2 ng L· 1, despite con stant levels of geosmi n in the raw water. In 2005, the previously unchlorinated filters were backwashed with chloraminated water. This process change coincided with an increase of geosmin in the product water, suggesting chat biological activity in the filters had been responsible for the removal bur was compromised by the p resence of a disin fectant. T he cessation of the use of chloraminated backwash water resulted in the p lane once again producing odour- free water. Th is observation was verified by laboratory column experiments, utilising sand taken from the plant during each backwashing co ndition. This is the first long term fu ll scale study on removal of MIB and geosmin by biological rapid sand fi ltration.

Introduction The presence of ad verse tastes and odours is a constant challenge co water rreacmenc facilities. Consumers generally judge drinking water by aesthetic q ualities such as caste, odour, colour and clariry. Problem s with caste and odour often lead co d ecreased confidence in municipal d rinking water supplies and increased complaints to the water authorities. Of particular concern are the musty-earthy odours produced by the tertiary alcoh ols 2-merhylisoborneol (MIB) and geosmin. MIB and geosmi n are produced by a range of cyanobacceria (bluegreen algae) and Acti nomyceces and are found in surface waters all over the world . Although non-toxic, they create many difficulties fo r plane operations . T h e convention al treatment process of coagulat ion , flocculation, sedimentation , rapid filtrat ion and d isinfection is quire effective for removing intact cyanobaccerial cells and hence intracellular MIB and

48 NOVEMBER 2007 Water

geosmin. H owever, dissolved (extracellular) MIB and geosmin are not efficien tly removed an d can be detected by some consumers at below 10 ng L· 1• Add itional treatment processes capable of targeti ng very low concentrations are required. T he most common treatment process used in Australia for the rem oval of these co mpounds is p owdered activated carbon (PAC). PAC is an adsorptive process, and is generally added before, or during, the flocculatio n seep of the conventional treatm ent process. le can then b e removed downstream by sedimentation and filtrat ion. PAC is advantageous as ir can b e used only as required and at doses specific co the inlet co ncentration of MIB or geosmin. H owever, PAC has d isadvantages in char its effectiveness is greatly hampered by competition for adsorption sites with the m ore predominant natural organic matter (NOM), and removal does not always occur as predicted. This means chat large volum es of PAC are required, cau sing increased sludge load fo r the plant and operational costs as high as $400 0-$8000 per day (based on a production capacity of 200 ML per day and PAC coses of $20-40 per ML, depending on water quality, inlet concentratio ns and the type of PAC used) . T he problems associated with PAC are increased as Australia's current drought situation leads co decreased water qualiry and subsequenrly more frequent algal blooms. C learly, a cheaper, more reliab le method for taste and odour removal is requ ired. A number of studies have shown the promise of biological treatment fo r M IB and geosmin removal (Hrudey et al. 1995; Huck eta!. 1995; Nerenberg eta/. 200 0; Elhadi et al. 20046 ; Elhadi et al. 2006). le is well established chat M IB and geosmin can be biodegraded by a variety of naturally occurring microorganisms (Danglor et al.

A biologically active sand filter can reduce taste and odour.

Journal of the Australian Water Association

1983; Izaguirre et al. I 988; Ishida et al. 1992; H oefel et al. 200 6). An ideal method to implement chis process is biological filtration. H ere, the filte r med ium is the carrier for the bacteria in rhe fo rm of a biofi lm. Biological filtration has many advantages. Ir does nor require rhe addition of any compounds wh ich may themselves produce toxic or odorous by-products. Ir is also a low maintenance process and requires few m odi fi cations co existing plant operation. Add itionally, biological fi ltratio n aids in che removal of biodegradable compounds which can affect biological regrowth in the distribution system, thus reducing the chlorine demand of the product water. T he type of medium used in biological filtratio n wi ll greacly impact its efficacy. A large proportion o f studi es on b iological fi ltration have been co nducted on GAC, as its porous, rough surface makes it an ideal carrier fo r biomass. H owever, GAC is expensive. Biological rapid sand filrrarion is a much more cost-effective option and is already the fil trat ion process used in the m ajori ty of Australian water fi ltration plants. U nforcunarely, sand is not the optimum media for biological fil tration, as its smooth surface texture and th e lack of crevices provide little opportunity for biofilm attachment. However, a number of studies have shown chat it has p romise. A recent study (Metz et al. 2006) showed char a rapid sand filte r with no pre-ch lorination was capable of 80-90% removal of MIB and 50% removal of geosmin over a period of 6 years. ln another study, a biologically acti ve rapid sand filter with 2-year-old sand was capable of 50% rem oval of MIB at the end of a 4 month study (Summ ers et al. 2006) . A Canadian study found chat a laboratory scale fi lter utilising anthracitesand m edia removed only 14% of the influent geosm in after a shorter period of 65 days (Elhadi et al. 2006). These previous studies suggest that biologically active sand filtration is a promising alternative co PAC; however studies over long time frames are required. Until now, n o full-scale study has been carried out over a sufficient time

period as to verify the potential of the process.

Settled Water Duct

This paper describes a South Australian water treatment plane which is capable of removing geosmin without the need for PAC treatment. Laboratory scale experiments were used to validate the conclusion that biological activity in the rapid gravity filters is responsible for the caste and odour removal.

2 Rapid Mix

2 Flocculation Tanks

2 Sedimentation Tanks

t - - -Waste Wash Water Retum To Sludge Treatment and Disposal

Raw Water Pump: Ri ver Murray

Full-Scale Study

Figure 1. Morgan WTP schematic prior to chloraminated backwash.

Morgan Water Treatment Plant

Morgan water treatment plan t (WTP) was built in 1986 and services a large portion of South Australia's regional centres, such as W hyalla, Pore Pirie and Pore Augusta. It has a capacity of 200 ML per day. T he plant operates with conventional treatment comprising coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, filtration and chloramine disinfection. A simplified plane schematic can be seen in Figure 1. Morgan WTP utilises dual-media anthracite-sand rapid gravity filters, with no Figure 2. SEM of Morgan filter sand, August 2004. pre-chlorination. The filters operate with a hydraulic loading rate of 10 - 13.7 m h-1, has frequent algal blooms and constant low water. As the fil ters were not deliberately and an approximate empty bed contact to mid levels of geosmin. SA W ater being operated as biological fil cers, the rime (EB CT ) of 3 minutes. T he sand has effect of the chloramine on the biological monitoring from 2000-2007 has shown an an effective size of 0.55 mm, and has not activity was not of pri mary concern. In fact, average of 15.4 ng L-1 (±64%, n = 123) been replaced since the plant's chlorinated backwash water is often geosmin in the raw water. Despite the commissioning in 1986. thought to enhance filtration efficiency. of geosmi n in the raw water, constant levels Filter run times range from 10 to 50 hours, Australian WTPs often include a the Morgan WTP has historically produced depending on water quali ty. The chlorination seep prior to fi ltration as ir aids water with geosmin levels below 2 ng L· 1• backwashing process in vol ves air scour for 5 in reducing particle counts and increases 1 On the 17th December 2004, fo r unrelated minutes at approximately 36 1113 m- , filter run times. operational reaso ns the chlorine dosing followed by water wash for 12.5 minu tes at point was moved to the backwash supply 470 - 850 L s- 1• Up until 17th December 2004, the backwash water sump, resulting in chlorami naced backwash Continued on page 52 consisted of un-chlorinated fil tered water after the addition of ammonia, fluoride and caustic. Despite the filters not being designed as biological filters, the absence of chlorine and the long period of rime in Hl98186 ,, :i· olved Oxygen Meter with operation resulted in the filte rs 1, ti ive Battery Charger containing a diverse, th riving biological co mmunity. This can Features be seen in scanning electron • D.O. range 0.00 to 50.00 ppm; 0.0 to 600.0% saturation microscopy pictures taken in • Barometric pressure measurement with selectable units 2004, shown in Figure 2. T he • BOD measurement (b iochemical oxygen demand) biofilm is co mposed of many • OUR measurement (oxygen uptake rate) organisms, including bacteria • SOUR measurement (specific oxygen uptake rate) and protozoa, and is held • Salinity, pressure and temperatu re compensation • Log-on-demand up to 400 samples together by extracellular • Waterproof IP67 polymeric material. It is not possible to identi fy individual organisms from SEM alone. Tel: +61 3 9769 0666

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Morgan WTP receives its water from the M urray River, which Journal of the Australian Water Association




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technical features refereed paper

Continued from page 49 The change in plant operation directly co incided with an increase in geosm in levels in rhe product water. Figure 3 shows geosmin levels in the raw and product waters of Morgan WTP over rhe period 22/11/2000 to 6/0 2/2007. T he figure shows that up until the change in backwashi ng conditions, levels of geos min in rhe product water were consistently below 2 ng L-1• However, with the implementation of rhe chloraminated backwash regime, sign ificant b reakth rough of geo smin occurred. Backwashing with un-chloraminared water was resumed in late August 2006. During chis time, the geosmin levels entering the plant increased markedly. This increase coin cid ed wirh continuing drought cond itions in the Murray-Darling basin resulting in poorer water quality in the Mu rray River. Interestingly, despite 2007 providing rhe second highest average geosmin in let level since data was collected, rhe plant was able to consistently produce water with geosmin levels of 5 ng L-1 and below. Cessatio n of chloraminared backwashing directly resulted in rhe plant once again being able to remove geos min without the need for PAC add ition. The above data suggests chat biological activity in the rapid gravity filters was responsible for the removal of geosmin th rough Morgan WTP. The implementation o f chloram inated backwash water resulted in a direct increase of geosmin in rhe fini shed water. Resu mption of chlorine-free backwashing resulted in rhe filters o nce again removing geosmin.

60 ~'...J 55 0> 50 C: C: 45 0 :;:; co ,__ 40 C: (1) 35 (.) C: 0 30 (.) c: 25 -~ 20 0 <D 15 (9 10 5 0


Geosmin raw Geosmin product










Figure 3: Geosmin concentration in Morgan W TP.

glass bottles and fed to rhe filters using an adjustab le peristaltic pump (G ilson Miniplus 3, Australia). All tubing used was Tygon Lab cubing (Masrerflex, USA) . MIB and geosmin stock sol utions were used to spike the filter in fl uents with 100 ng L- 1 of MIB and geosmi n. Sa mp le po rts were located just prior to and just after the water sample left the fil ter to avoid system losses, which are known ro occur in MIB and geosmin studies (Elhadi et al. 2004a). Each filter was backwashed weekly with deio nised water fo r 2 minutes at 10 % bed expansion. All experiments were conducted at room temperature, 20 ± 2°C.

T h e fil ters were packed with sand taken from the Morgan fi lter beds during each stage of the backwash changes. Firstly, sand was taken prior to the chloraminared backwash (CBW). Secondly, sand was raken during rhe CBW period. Finally, sand was taken in January 2007, approximately 4 months after CBW was ceased. Em pry b ed co ntact rime (EBCT) was used as rhe primary filtration parameter. U nless stated otherwise, the columns were run at an EBCT of I 5 minutes, which correlates to a loading rate of 0 .6 m h- 1• Loading rates in rhe range of the fu ll scale system were nor feas ible in the small scale laboratory

Validation by Laboratory Scale Biological Sand Filters Laboratory sand column exp eri ments were conducted concurren tly with the changes in backwashing condi tions of the Morgan WTP to further validate rhe hypothesis that geosmin removal was occurring by biological activity in the rapid gravity filters. This study also included MIB . MIB is often p resent in th e Morgan raw water, however at m uch lower concentrations than geosmm.

-0 Q)



E Q)






Materials and Methods


Glass col umns with a bed height of 15 cm and interior d iameter of 2.5 cm were used to simulate biologically active sand fi lters. Influent water was taken from the settled water duct of the Morgan WTP and fi ltered through a 1 ~1m Polypure Capsule (Pall Life Sciences, USA) prior to being used in the experiments. The water was stored in 20 L

52 NOVEMBER 2007


110 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20


•11-•-=::::::::::::•,: : :;• -•

- • - MIB

60 55 50 45 40

- • - Geosmin

- - EBCT

35 m CJJ 30 () --i 25 3 20 ~ 15 10 5


0 0







Figure 4. MIB and geosmin removal in Morgan filter sand sampled before CBW.

Journal of the Australian Water Association

apparatus; howeve r, EB CTs corresponding co rhar of rhe full scale could be used fo r shorr periods.

Results and Discussion Figure 4 shows rhar Morgan filrer sand raken prior ro rhe chloraminarion period was capab le of removing geosmin to below analyrical derecrion limir. Ir was also capable of removing MIB, wh ich is often also presenr in rhe raw warer ar low levels. This aids in val idaring the theory that MIB and geosmin removal was occurrin g rh rough rhe rapi d graviry filters at Morgan WTP, prior ro rhe implemenration of rhe CBW. The laboratory filter was run ar a baseli ne of 15 minutes EBCT. After 58 days of operation, rhe EB CT was sequenrially decreased to I 0, 5 and 3.5 minu tes, co simulate fu ll scale condirions. Removal of MIB and geosmin remained ar >95%. T hus, it was shown rhar Morgan filter san d raken prior ro rhe CBW was capable of excell enr removal of MTB and geosmin ar EB CTs under rapid sand filrrarion condirions. l n Figure 5 ir is evidenr that sand taken during rhe CBW period was nor as effecrive ar removing MIB and geosmin. Ini tial removal was approximarely 10% fo r MIB and 30% for geosmin , ove r a 5 day spiking period. Spiking was then stopped for a period of 15 days. After rhe resumprion of spiking, removal had increased to 40% for MIB and 70% for geosmin. T his increase suggesrs chat rhe chloraminared backwashing did not completely desrroy rhe biofilm, and ir was able ro re-establish in rhe absen ce of chlorine. Although the biomass wou ld have been damaged with each backwash, ir had rime to recover co a cerrain extenr during the filter run cycles. T he abil ity of a biofi lter ro recover after chlorinared backwash has been described before (Milrner et al. 1995) . In rhar stu dy, backwashing an anrh racire-sand biofilrer reSL1lred in a loss of 22% of biomass, bur biomass levels builr back up to the pre-backwashin g level after a 40 hour filrer ru n rime. Figure 6 shows the resulrs from filrer sand that was coll ected approximately 4 monrhs after the cessarion of rhe CBW. Here, initial removal of MIB and geosmin was ar 64% and 84%, respecrively. After a period of 18 days, rhe sa nd was removing >90% MIB and geosm in. Th is suggests that reverring to the ori ginal backwash process allowed the biofilm ro rebuild. However, the biofilm was nor as well developed as that prior to the CBW and rook so me time to acclimare ro the presence of rhe raste and odour compounds.

Conclusions T hi s study highlighred the porential of biologically acrive rapid sand fil trarion for taste and odou r removal. Full-scale dara showed thar the Morgan WT P rapid sand filrers were effectively removing geosm in to below rhe detection limit of co nsumers. However, the implementarion of a chlo rami nared backwashing regime reSL1lred in significanr breakrhro ugh of geosmin. After rhe cessation of rhe chloramin ared backwash, rhe planr was again capable of excellenr geosmin removal wirhour the need for PAC usage. Laboratory scale filter experimenrs validared rhe hypothesis char biological activity in rhe ftlrer sand was responsible for rhe removal of geosmin through rhe planr. Filter san d taken before, during and after the chloraminated backwash periods showed rhe significa nr effecr of rhe chloramine on rhe removal of geosmin. The laboratory studies also showed char rhe Morgan fil ter sa nd was capable of MIB removal. These are encouraging resulrs, as biological processes can save warer utilities considerable costs by significanrly decreasi ng rhe amounr of PAC required. Resul rs from rhis srudy have been used in a research projecr wirh rhe CRC for Warer Qualiry and

With the occurrence of reservoir shortages and continual water restrictions, counting every precious drop of water has become more prevalent. Development of programs on rational consumption patterns as well as upgrading of facilities involved in the supply, processing and distribution of primary waters and waste water processing are critical in the conservation of this precious resource. To get the best levels of efficiency from your water and waste water applications, you need reliable and accurate instrumentation. ABB can supply all the process instrumentation required for the complete water cycle, from extraction and treatment through to distribution and the management and reprocessing of waste. At ABB, we have refined and developed the performance of our portfolio of intelligent instrumentation products to ensure you get a solution that meets your precise requirements every time. For further information, please phone 1300 660 299, send an email to, or visit our website

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Journal of the Australian Water Association


NOVEMBER 2007 53

technical features ~

water . supply Treatment. The p roject involves laboratory and pilot plant studies, with the aim of investigating the factors which lead to effective MIB and geosmin control in biological sand fi lters.

100 80(I)

The author would like to acknowledge the following organisations and individuals for their invaluable contribution to this project: • SA Water and the Morgan Water Treatment Plant, in particular J ohn Knoblauch and Werner Mobius

- • - MIB - • - Geosmin



........ .

> 0 E (I)

-e a::::

·--· ·--

70 60-


50 -






• Franziska Bock, Georg-Simon-OhmFachhochschule N Urn berg, Germany, for her work on the pre-chloraminated backwash laboratory colum n.

• - - -· -·

30 -

· ---· - - -•














• CRC for Water Quality and Treatment for fu nding the research.


Figure 5 . MIB and geosmin removal in Morgan filter sand taken during CBW.

The Authors

Bridget McDowell (email:,

Dr Lionel Ho, Dr Christopher Saint and Dr Gayle Newcombe are all at the Australian Water Q uality Centre, where the laboratory work was carried ou r. All authors are members of the CRC for Water Q uality and T reatment. Bridget is also en rolled as a PhD student at the School of Chem ical Engineering, U niversity of Adelaid e.

References Danglor, C., Amar, G . and Vilagines, R. (1983). "Ability of bacillus to degrade geosmi n. " Water Science and Technology 15(6-7): 291299. Elhadi, S. L. N., Huck, P. M. and Slawson, R. M . (2004a) . "Determination of system losses of geosmin and MIB in bench-scale filrrarion apparatus." Water Quality Research journal of Canada 39(3): 207-2 12. Elhadi, S. L. N., Huck, P. M. and Slawson, R. M . (20046). "Removal of geosmin and 2met hylisoborneol by biological filtration ." Water Science and Technology 49(9): 273280. Elhadi, S. L. N., Huck, P. M. and Slawson, R. M. (2006). "Facto rs affecting rhe removal of geosmin and MTB in drinking water biofi lrers." journal A merican Water Works A ssociation 98(8): 108-1 19. Hoefel , D., Ho, L., Aunkofer, W., Monis, P. T., Keegan, A., Newcombe, G. and Saint, C. P. (2006). "Cooperative biodegradation of geosmin by a consortium comprising three gram-negative bacteria isolated from the biofilm of a sand fil ter column ." Letters in Applied Microbiology 43(4): 417-423. Hrudey, S. E., Huck, P. M., Mitton, M . J. and Kenefick, S. L. (1995). "Evaluation of odour removal by p ilot-scale biological treatment process trains d uring spring ru noff in an icecovered stream." Water Science and Teclmology 31 (II) : I 95-20 l.

54 NOVEMBER 2007


Huck, P. M., Kenefi ck, S. L., H rudey, S. E. and Zhang, S. ( 1995). "Bench-scale determination of t he removal of odour compounds with biological treatment. " Water Science and Technology 3 1(1 1): 203209. Ishida, H. and Miyaji, Y. (1992) . "Biodegradation of 2-Methylisoborneol by Oligotrophic Bacterium Isolated from a Eu trophied Lake. " Water Science and Technology 25(2) : 269-276. Izaguirre, G ., Wolfe, R. L. and Means, E. G . (1988). "Bacterial degradation of2methylisoborneol. " Water Science and Technology 20(8/9): 205-210. Metz, D . H., Pohlman, R. C., Vogt, J. and Summers, R. S. (2006). Removal of MIB and geosmin by full-scale biological sand

100 90 80 "C (I)

> 0 E (I)



70 60 40




----·---· ~·-· . ·--~ .--· ./

- • - MIB




fil ters. Recent Progress in Slow Sand and Alternative Biofiltration Processes, Mulheim, Germany, !WA Publishing Miltner, R. J., Scott Summers, R. and Wang, J. Z. ( 1995). "Biofilrration performance: part 2, effect of backwashing." Journal American Water Works Association 87(12): 64-70 . Nerenberg, R., Rimnann, B. E. and Soucie, W . J. (2000) . "Ozonc/ biofiltration for removing MIB and geosmin." journal A merican Water Works Association 92(12) : 85-95 . Summers, R. S., C hae, S., Kim, S. M. and Ahn, H. W. (2006). Biodegradation of MIB and geosmin in biological sand and BAC filters: acclimation, steady-state and varying influent. Recent Progress in Slow Sand and Alternative Biofiltration Processes, Mulheim, Germany, !WA Publishing.

- • - Geosmin

20 10 0













Figure 6. MIB and geosmin re moval in Morgan filter sand taken post-CBW, January 2007.

Journal of the Australian Water Association

technical features !fereed paper

SHADE CLOTH COVERS REDUCE BOTH ALGAE AND EVAPORATION N Finn, K Hunter, S Barnes Abstract East Gippsland Water participated in a joint venture project with Gale Pacific, SuperSpan and CS IRO which explored the overall benefits of coveri ng warer supply storages with shade cloth as an alternative to replacement with covered ranks, solid covers or floating covers. The project ran from 2004 to 2006 with four storages (two raw water and rwo clear/treated water) monitored for one year uncovered and one year covered. Two control storages (raw and treated) were mon itored for rwo years uncovered. Ar the end of rhe study ir was shown rhe covers dramatically reduced rhe incidence of algal blooms. Contamination of rh e storages by waterfowl and wi nd borne organic material was significantly reduced. Aquatic planes could no lo nger grow at the bottom of the storages, red ucing maintenance costs. In addition, evaporation races were reduced by approximately 90%. This drop in evaporatio n loss is highly significant and, in circumstances where water supplies are scarce or under pressure, potentially valuable. The improved water quality and reduced risk of algal blooms and other contamination provided by the covers offers a valuable enhancement in security of water supply at a reasonable cost.

Introduction East Gippsland Water is responsib le for water supply to a number of small townships. One of them, Bemm River, was served by a storage designed for a larger population, bur with rhe closure of the sawmilling industry, rhe township was reduced to little more rhan a tourist facility. Consequently the residence time in the storage was very long and severe algal blooms developed. In 2001, rhe Water Quality Officer, Kristine Hunter, suggested rhar since it was impractical to control rhe nutrient input from the source, perhaps curring off the light would work. She lightheartedly suggested char shade cloth might be a cheap method. After much discussion, T his article has been prepared by the Editor from extracts from the cited report by CSIRO and from papers presenred by H unrer to the


Figure 1. Swifts Creek storage basi n.

East Gippsland Water agreed that a trial was justified. An intensive monitoring program of physical, chemical, biological and microbiological parameters was initiated in February 2001 prior to construction and installation of the shadeclorh cover. The shadeclorh cover was completed in May 2001. Monitoring continued until February 2002. No blooms we re derecred over 200 1 - 2002 Summer season with no detrimental effect on the chemistry of the water. The consumers of Bemm River were happy with the quality of the water. Following on from the successful results of rhe Bemm River installation, the suppliers of the shade cloth, Gale Pacific P/L, and SuperSpan P/L who designed and installed rhe structures, were eager to rest the concept further. Since the fabric strength could be a significant factor, they approached the CSIRO Division of Textile and Fibre T echnology, which was commissioned to develop a monitoring program and subsequently monitor the basins for the term of th e project.

Potential for both clear water storages and small dams.

East Gippsland Water selected an additional four basins for the trials.

The Study The study was conducted by CSJRO, in co llaboration with East Gippsland Water, Gale Pacific, who manufactured the shade cloth, and SuperSpan who designed and installed the covers. Ar each site there was installed: • Water weather station • Land weather station • Evaporation pan • Solar monitor • In-flow monitor • Our-flow mo nitor • Minisonde-SCUFA mon itoring: - Algae (chlorophyll A by fl uorometer) - pH - Temperature - Sali nity - Specific cond uctivity - T urbidity - Depth Algal and bacterial concentrations were also monitored by manual sampling and laboratory analysis. Each of rhe water storage basins is different in its layout, operation and the

Journal of the Australian Water Association


NOVEMBER 2007 55

technical features

B .... • •. •.

water supply

characteristics of its water source, Since being covered, and apart Table 1. Basin p roperties at each site. and each presented challenges in from the unusual locust installation and set up of the infestation, the Omeo storage has Site Water type Capacity (ML) W x Lx D {m) instrumentation. All the basins nor suffered any algal or bacterial Cann River Raw 3 30x30x2.3 contamination that has required were being monitored from April Swifts Creek Raw 4 40x60x3 2004. Four of che six basins remediation such as algicide Clear Omeo 5.2 30x50x3 (Cann River, Swifts Creek, dosing or drainage and cleaning 90xl 10x4.6 Mo llacoota Clear 22.8 Omeo, Mallacoca) were covered (Figure 3). The operations of the Sarsfield Raw 160 80x80x6 in 2005. Two basi ns (Sarsfield overall WTP have been enhanced and Orbosc) remained uncovered due co the increased reliabiliry of Orbost Clear 53 55x150x5 for the whole study co ace as the storage. co ntrols. T he basin locatio ns are windblown debris, resulting in poorer Mallacoota shown on che map below (Figure 2) and the qualiry water being delivered co consumers The Mallacoora water supply is so urced basin parameters are in T able 1. during periods of high demand when the from the Berka River. The water undergoes A rypical scruccure is shown in Figure 1. Clear Water Storage supplemented/ full water treatment (coagulation/ replaced the Clear Water Tank supply. Observations on Algae and Bacteria floccu larion/sedimentation and filrrarion) Omeo

The township of Omeo is supplied by fu lly treated water from Butchers Creek into a Clear Water Tank which overflows into a Clear Water Storage duri ng periods of low demand. T he 5.2 ML storage is fu lly lined with a water right liner. The Clear Water Storage was recontaminated either by algal growth, bacterial contam ination via water birds or

In previous summers algal blooms rendered the Omeo Clear Water Storage unusable for significant periods of time. In February-March 2006, there was a locust plague and numbers of insects either crawled or were blown under the skirts, releasing their stomach contents after drown ing. This also happened co the nearby Swifts Creek storage. Consequently in both cases there was a temporary spike in both algal and bacterial numbers.

and is transferred into a Clear Water Tank. D uring ti mes of low demand the Clear Water Tank overflows into a 22.8 ML Clear Water Storage Basin. T he storage basin is a d ay-lined, rock beached rurkey nest design. During rimes of high demand, water from che Clear Water Storage flows directly into the reticulation mains afrer rech lorinarion. The Clear Water Storage had historically experienced high algal numbers during summer/aurumn, resulting in 'tainted ' water being delivered co customers, effectively negating the benefits gained via fu ll water creatmen t. Figures 4 and 5 show the impact of covering the basin in September 2005, i.e. reduced numbers of algal species and abundance as well as reduced bacterial levels. After the cover was installed the basin initially suffered several extremely high curbidicy even ts. These were thought co be a result of accumulation of sediment and floccu lanr carryover fro m the treatment plane over a number of years and subsequent discurbance of chis accumu lated debris during capital works and modifications of the bore water inlet co rhe storage basin. Eventually the basin was drained and large quantities of sludge pumped our. Si nce chis operation the basin has been extremely reliable.

Figure 2. M ap of SE Victoria w ith loca tion o f study sites. 0.5










i 40000 ! 50000



~ 0.25



0.2 0.15 0.1 0.05





,· ;A


~=I•,~ -~ .,_\ ,:



-----·-\ .1 \

:•.J. Ji \

Total N (mgll)



• • • Chlorophyl

30000: 20000

!!be-Green A'ga<,


-o-.w Agae

10000 0

Figure 3. O meo clear water storage: Alg al ab undance and high nutrient levels. (The spike in Feb-March 2006 was due to an unusual locust plag ue).

56 NOVEMBER 2007


Journal af the Australian Water Association

Cann River The townsh ip of Cann River is supplied by water harvested from Cann River into a Raw Water Storage Basin, disinfected with sodium hypochlorite at the outlet of the basin and fed directly into the reticulation system. There is no further treatment of this water. Historically the water qualiry was affected by coloured water/high iron content water harvested fro m Cann River as well as algal growth in the Raw Water Storage. As can be seen fro m Figure 6 there was a

Reduce algal bloom, minimise evaporation and save more water with Synthesis

In 1999 we recognised the potential of our shade fabrics to provide highly effective protection for vulnerable water resources in storage basins and d ams. In conjunction with the CSIRO and East Gippsland Water, we undertook world-fi rst t rials t hat proved covering wat er storage basins w ith Synthesis shadecloth signif icantly reduces algal blooms, evaporation, noxious weeds and water contamination. Synthesis shade fabrics 'breathe' to provide t he perfect balance of light transmission and airflow. And because t hey aren't so lid, there's no risk of biofilm growth on inner surfaces and they pose virtually no risk to people worki ng inside a covered structure due to possi ble build-up of hazardous gasses. Under t he Synt hesis brand, Gale Pacifi c designs, manufactures and supplies a ra nge of premium fabrics that protect and nurture so many of t he natural resources we rely on for life. Water is j ust one. To find out how Synthesis fabrics can work for you in so many ways, contact us on 1800 331 521, email or visit

technical features water supply

mill - - - - ••.• -

significant impact on algal abundance and occurrence in che storage afrer covering.

M.Uacoota c1.., Wat.,. s t ~ Alg·ol Abundanc.


However there was a lesser impact on bacterial levels d ue to 're-seeding' of che storage with bacteria from the river with every pumping event. Disinfection of the water at the outlet o f che storage addressed the bacterial hazard.


- -- - - - - - - - - - - - + - - - - - - - - - - - - -


- - - -----------+------------




Swifts Creek The township of Swifts Creek is supplied by water harvested from the Tambo River, stored in a rock lined/beached 4 ML Raw Water Storage and d isi nfected with chlorine dioxide at the outlet of the storage. There is no furth er creacmenc of the water prior to delivery to consumers. In the past the water supply experienced a number of caste and odour problems due to the presence of algae and aquatic planes predominantly Chara sp. - which imparts an "off fish" caste and odour to the water. As with Cann River, covering of che storage had a sign ificant impact on algal occurrence and abundance (Figure 7) but less impact on bacterial levels. Prior to covering the Swifrs Creek Raw Water Storage, ic was drained and most of the aquatic plants were removed. Clearing of aquatic planes from water storages is an expensive and inconvenient operation and the basin is off-lin e for several days. Video records and visual monitoring of che sto rage after the cover was installed showed a dramatic decrease in the regrowth of che aquatic planes wich no planes reappearing in ch e middle of che storage where light levels were lowest and with min imal regrowth occurring where sunlight came through 'gaps' in che cover, ac che bases of support poles and around the inlet structure.



Scula Chi


Figure 4. Mallacoota clear w ater storage: algal ab undance.

M~l.1coota B~ctfflal


•• •

2 ( D I + - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - -+-- - - - - - - -



• Coilotms {Coliert)


I ,1111 + - - - - - -+ - - - - - - - + . - - + - - - - - J




~ 11Xll





---E.co6 (riK>us•)

Figure 5. Mallacoota clear water storage: bacterial contamination (the cover excludes water birds).

Controls Two basins were left uncovered but monitored in the sa me way. While not strictly experimental co ntrols because the size, location and operations were nor identical to the uncovered basins, selecti ng one Raw Water (Sarsfi eld Storage Basin ) and one Clear W ater basin (O rbost C lear Water Storage), provided a degree of co nfidence chat seasonal variations could be accounted for. Thus a change in the second year after covering at o ne of the covered basins could be checked against an uncovered basin in the same year. Figure 8 shows char algal abundance continued over the two years.




0.45 0.4

.•;.; '.






o. 0.2 0.15 0.1


. .• •




1.l.. ul

• 11


• • •

' • :. r·· • . . . Ii•-. • • • . :•.::,'



. . • . . •. •


1r11 ;I~ !t .\ \


Cover Installed





I ......





TotalNitrogM Total Pllosphon,sx20





Algae x10 &_,Algae

30000 -Qth.,·Algae x 10 20000


IA. ~/'::v._ nilL.





Sarsfield: Uncovered Sarsfield Storage Basin is a 160 ML earthen, rock beached storage. Sarsfield is 58 NOVEMBER 2007


Figure 6. Cann River raw water storage: Alga l abundance and nutrient levels. Note that despite higher nutrients, the cover extinguished algal blooms.

Journal of the Australian Water Association

technical features refereed paper

che largest of the basins studied with a depth of 6.5 m.

Swifts Creek Raw Water storage ~ - - - - - - - - --

Water harvested from the Mitchell River at Glenaladale is transferred to chis storage and used to supply che townshi ps of Sarsfield, Bruchen, Nicholson, Johnsonville, Swan Reach, Mecung, and Lakes Entrance. The water is disinfected using chlorine gas at che ou dee of the storage.

- - --


O.Q + - - - - - - - - - -+--- - - - - - - - - - - a

0.8 - - --

- - - - - -t-------------<


" " ' " ' - - - - - - - - - ' t 25000 0.1 -!f--HH-- - - , - - - -f-111'" "

:r 20000




At Sarsfield, the use of a metered gaseous chlorine dosing sys tem allowed a correlation between algal abundance and ch lorine dose co be established. Th e chlorine injection is flow paced, bur is also mediated by the residual chlorine in che created water co mai ntain the residual level. Figure 9 shows the rate of chlorine use pl otted against algal co ncentrations, suggesting rhat reduced algae (by covering) would be expected to reduce the chlorine usage.




Total Nitrcgon Toal Phosphon,, x20 · · · · · · Chlorophyl BAie-Green Alg.l• GrNnA!ga•

--no•-"· -


Figure 7. Swifts Creek raw water storage algal abundance. Note the effect of locusts; Swifts Creek is only 20 km from Omeo an d was impacted at the same time. Sarsfield Raw Water Storage (Control)

Orbost: Uncovered

Orbost was the second "control" site; it was uncovered for the whole study. Wate r is harvested from the Brodribb River and Rocky River, then scored in a Raw Water Sto rage. It undergoes full water treatment (coagulation/flocculation/ sedimentation/filtration). The treated water is transferred co a Clear Water Tank which is chlorinated at the oucl et prior to entry into the reticulation system. Overflow from the Clear Water T ank is scored in a 53 ML earthen, rock beached, Clear Water Seo rage. During periods of high demand, chis water is rechlorinated prior to boosting supply into town.

:r 0.5 + - - - - - - - - - - - - - - + + - - - - - - - + 15000 l>

.s 6 0 .4 + - - - - - - - - - - - - - - , - - + - - - - - + 1 2 0 0 0 :r a !



Pho>phorc<1> x20


Bk.lMirel!fl Alg,1e




0.2 + + - - + --

- - ~l'i--~-,----'--+---

- --....,..~--+&000



0.1 r r h r - + + ---:t<;~>H>-:---r-

-+1~ ttt::--+--'-:"~ ,---+3000

Figure 8. Sarsfield raw water storage, showing the prevalence of algae. Sarsfield Chlorine Consumption

O rbost was relatively free of algal blooms in the fi rst year of the study, but showed higher levels in the summer of the second year (Figure l O). Bacterial levels at Orbost showed a strong seasonal effect perhaps due co the presence of water birds and warmer water (F igure 11).




.. • • •• Chlotcphyl


~03 ~ - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - ~ 30000 o.e + - - - - -- - - - - - - - - -+-- - - - - - - - < 25000 0.56 + - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~ - - - - - - - - i

i l 15000 1 20000




; M+--~




±-T----,-+-- - -


I 5000 1,1 Hth- - ' - - - - - - - - - - _ , _ _ - - - - - - ' - - - - ,I,.--,


Discussion While the observations for the uncovered basins were not 'strict controls', the presence of simil ar or higher levels of algae and bacteria in the uncovered basins during the second year of the study suggests that the reduced levels in the covered basins were not j use seaso nal variations.


0.2 +--



Tot31A ii




. ii



@~ ;







~ ~ i §1








! t I I i §i




Figure 9. Sarsfield. Chlorine consumption a nd algal abundance.


considerable amount of effort was being given to estimating the reduction in evaporation, since this aspect could have significance in regions with inadequate water supplies.

At rhe same rime as observations were be ing taken on the water quality aspects, a

The air speed under the covers is effectively zero when rhe basins are covered and skirts

T his was reinforced by the si milar weather and water co ndition s for the rwo years of rhe trials.


are properly fitted and so normal turbulent surface evaporation isn't possible. Evaporation from covered basins was esti mated to be less than 10% of normal evaporation. This is due to the zero wind speed, stab le air temperature profile, lower water surface temperature under the cover,

Journal of the Australian Water Association




technical features

u ........ .

water supply the low permeab ility of the cover, and reduced vapour p ressure difference at the interface. In the uncovered case the interface is che open water surface where the vapour pressure is at saturation. When the basi n is covered the interface is at the fabr ic su rface and the internal vapou r pressure is much closer to the external vapour p ressure and diffusion is red uced by the fab ric.

Orbost Clearwater storage

Temperature layers (stratifi cation) of the water column were shown ro occur at various rimes in both covered and uncovered storages during hot weather. T he remperarure gradien ts appear to be more persistent b ut smaller in magn irude in covered storages due co reduced evaporation (and therefo re reduced evaporative cooling) and to the insulating effect of the covers. W hen the storage is covered with shade cloth the d irect rad iation is reduced by approxim ately 98%. Before the storages were covered the solar rad iatio n during the day penetrated into the water, hearing the su rface layers up to 2 or 3°C warmer than the deeper waters. Altho ugh large remperarure grad ients can be generated in uncovered storages they do nor last for lo ng as heat is quickly lost and temperarures equilibrate. Rapid cooling of the su rface can also result in a reversal of the temperature gradient that can result in a tu rnover of the warmer water and m ixing of the layers and also li ft sediments. O ne effect of the cover is to slow d own the speed w ith wh ich water temperature changes occur and so chis type of undesirable event is unlikely to occur in a covered storage.

Note: T he fu ll CSIRO rep ort investigates these aspects in great derail and incl udes 3-D plots of the time-depth-temperarure parameters in the water column.

Shade-Cloth Structures T he fabric used in the structures was Gale Pacific's Com mercial 95 . T his fab ric was chosen as it had a p roven history in tensioned structu res in harsh cond itions giving an expected lifespan of in excess of 10 years. SuperSpan d esigned and installed the st ructures at each of the bas ins. A tensioned architecrural scrucrure witho ut internal supports was used fo r the design. T his type of strucrure was chosen based on

60 NOVEMBER 2007





;;!' 15



•• •

• II



•• •

• 10

Annual evaporation rare estimates ranged from 870 to 1060 mm per year. Table 2 su mmarises estimates of the water loss from uncovered storages. Thus, at Mallacoota, the largest covered basin, it is esti mated that the cover would save some 8.5 ML/yr.


• ••

• ••

. . . . ,~






1a.m ~



<inln ~




- san 0

.i 1. ~


f l t ! r & f .. i ! g









ii i ! t r ..f









~ ~

Figure 10. O rbost clearwater storage. A lgal abunda nce a nd nutrient level s. 3000

, - - - - - - - - - - - - - --;:::::====::::::;--, 1200 -

+ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ----1 2500 :7

e 2000 -l.-111--- - - -~ ~


......E_ooli (

--------============---I- 800


1500 -HIHHH--- - - - --+\--41\-- - - - - -+ -- - - - - + 600

J .!!.

Js. ~

coifonns (Colieci)

-it-Colifonns(inhouse) E_coli (Colileci)


'6 0




+ - - - - - - - - -- -. - - --

-+ 400




Figure 11 . Orbost Clearwater storage: Bacteria l ana lyses.

\ Figure 12. O meo a fter a heavy snow fall. Table 2. Evapo ration rate estimates w itho ut covers. Site

Omeo Cann River Mallacoota Sarsfield Orbost Swifts Creek

Daily evaporation (mm/day)

Annual evaporation (mm/yr)





2.4 2.9 2.8 2.9 2.4 2.9

1.8 2.5 2.0 2.2 2.1 2.8

870 1060 1016 1060 876 1060

660 895 725 810 760 1025

Journal of the Australian Water Association

Water type

Clear Raw Clear Clear Raw Raw

Capacity (ML)

WxlxD (m)

5.2 30x50x3 3 30x30x2.3 22.8 90x l 10x4.6 160 80x80x6 53 55x150x5 4 40x60x3

Loss ML/yr

1.3 0.95 10.1 6.8 7.3 2.5

East Gippsland Water's request to have fu ll access to the surface of the water in the basins. While chis type of structure was chosen to meet the requirements requested by East Gippsland Water, other lower cost stru ctures such as a flat suspended cover or internally supported cover could also be utilised. For chis project, the covers were suspended from steel cabl es from galvanised steel posts bolted to concrete footi ngs. Even in high wind areas and heavy snow, the fabric and steel structural co mponents perform ed exceptionally well (see Figu re 12). The ancho r design fo r the covers was modified after observing the damage caused to the fabric by repeated co ntact with the rock beachi 1g on the basin banks at a pre-trial site. The need for a close fitting skirt to reduce evaporation and prevent the entry of debris was clearly demonstrated in the months just fo llowing cover installation, befo re an effective skirt was designed and attached to most of the basins. Further improvements could however still be made in th is area. Related to the problem of fabric damage is the need for co rrect structure tensions to be maintained and to prevent co ntact between the fabric and basin beaching and wi th structures such as hand rails and doorways. An improved tension ing method chat local staff can readily implement may assist in the ease of maintenance and prevent damage from occurring. The problems with the covers discussed here are, however, minor issues compared to the successes seen since chei r installation. The Omeo cover, for example, has withstood very high winds and heavy snow falls.


was severely curtailed. Plants no longer grew at the bottom of the storages because of the lack of light, reducing ma intenance costs. In the case of raw wate r storages the frequency of adverse bacterial events was not as greatly reduced as for clear water storages. Minor algal events occurred at the raw water storages after covering. However, the algae introduced into these storages did not readily multiply/grow due co the lack of light. Since coveri ng the storages no remedial action with respect to algae, such as algaecide dosing or drai ning of the storage, has been requi red. The air speed under the covers is effectively zero when the storages are covered and skirts are properly fitted and so normal turbulent surface evaporation isn't possible. Evaporation from covered storages was estimated to be reduced by som e 90%. Shade cloth covers have advantages over alternative covers in terms of coses, maintenance and ease of operation. Sealed suspended covers carry a risk of biofilm growth on their moist inner surfaces and because they block 100% of the light and sea l in gases they pose potential health and safety risks for operators when worki ng inside them. Floating covers require d rainage infrastructure fo r rain capture and also grow potentially problematic biofi lms on their inner surfaces. They also do not allow staff access or readily allow visual assessment of the water storage.

Acknowledgments In particular we would like to thank the East Gippsland Water operations staff at Mall acoota, Lakes Entrance, Orbost and Omeo, the Gale Pacific staff, Selina Mok and Elizabeth C igulevski, and Stuart Ca nn on and staff from SuperSpan.

T he costs of shade cloth covers are heavily dependent on local cond itions and the overall design requirements of the structure. In the case of th is study, fu ll access was requi red to the water surface, hence the ten ted design . Whatever the design of the support syste m, overall, the coses of a shade cloth cover represents a fraction of the cost of a solid cover. In addition, shade cloth covers also have advantages over altern ative covers in terms of ongoi ng maintenance and ease of operanon.

Dr Niall Finn, a physicist, is Theme Leader, Advanced Fibrous Materials, at the CSIRO Division ofTextile and Fibre Technology, email Niall. Finn @CS Kristine Hunter is Water Quality Officer for East Gippsland Water, email Scott Barnes is an Experimental Scientist with the CSIRO Division of Textile and Fib re T echnology.



This study has shown chat the incidence of algal blooms is sign ificantly reduced by the presence of the relatively inexpensive shade cloth covers. Access to the storages by animals, birds or windb lown contaminants

Finn, N; Barnes, S., "The Benefits of ShadeCloth Covers for Potable Water Srorages", CS IRO Publications, 2007. This report can be downloaded from the CS! RO publications website: resources/Shadeclorhcovers. h rm I

The Authors

technical features .fereed paper


This paper addresses the question how adequate is water supply planning for nonmerropolitan cities and towns in Australia. We do this by examining two key elements in the planning process namely institutional support (regulatory drivers, guidance, tools and datasets available at a state, territory or national level for use by utilities in water supply planning) and technical rigour (knowledge of the essential technical components of urban water supply planni ng) across che scares and territory. T he study revealed a number of shortcomi ngs in the long-term planning of non-metropolitan urban regions in Australia. Several recommendations are made to address these inadequacies, as well as highl ighting areas where water supply plan ning is working more effectively. Introduction

The current ongoing drought across most of Australia has highlighted the vulnerability of many supply systems to extreme cl imate cond itio ns, including rural cities like Bend igo, Goulburn an d Toowoomba. Th is paper is based on an Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) Report (Neal eta!., 2007), fu nded by the Australian Research Council, and addresses che question how adequate is water planning for nonmetropolitan cities and nwns in Australia. The review has emerged from concerns about the ability of water utilities in some regional urban centres to undertake adequate planni ng in the context of highly variable and changing supply and demand co nditions. The paper provides a snapshot of che status of long-term urban water supply plann ing bei ng undertaken by Australia's non-metropolitan urban water ucilicies. A companion review recently completed by the Water Services Association of Austral ia (2005) examined Australian capital cities, incl uding

A condensation of the 2007 ATSE Report. 62



Regulatory drivers


-Requirement to develop a plan (IS1)

-Available software

-Adequate planning horizon (IS2) -Review period specified (IS3) -Fits into broader planning (154)


Institutional Support

-State co-ordinator (ISS) -State guidelines (IS6) -State water industry body (IS7)




-Population projections (IS8) -Climate change impacts (IS9)

Administration -Co-ordinated rebates for dem and reduction (IS13)

-Land use change impacts (IS10) -Consumptive pool size (IS11 ) -Financial analysis parameters (IS12)

Figure 1. Review elements for providing insti tutio nal support for wa ter supply planning .

Newcastle, the Gold Coast and the Australian Capital Territory. Maintaining a reliable water supply to more chan six mill ion residents outside of Australia's capital cities is important fo r rhe ongoing success and livelihood of ch ose commun ities. T hey contri bute significantly to che Australi an economy and che social fabric of che nation by supporting tou rism, agriculture and mining industries, amo ngst ochers. Reviews of non-mecropolican urban water supply plann ing have occurred in the past, such as Samra (1989), but are generally restricted to water prici ng reviews such as ERA (2004) and more general water industry reviews chat do not focus in derail on water supply planning (VWIA, 2006; DEUS, 2006). This is in contrast to water supply planning for capital cities, which is heavily scrutinised, such as in che independe nt review of level of service criteria in che Sydney Catchment Authority's operating licence (SKM, 2003). Following chis introduction, we briefly describe che characteristics of che nonmetropol itan water uti lities in Australia; che next section idencifies rhe key elements necessary to develop a satisfactory plan.

Journal of the Australian W ater Association

Based on these key elements, we then review che situation across country Australia. Six recommendations are set our in che penultimate section, and the paper is concluded with a fin al recommendation. Background of Non-metropolitan Water Utilities

No n-metropolitan water suppl ies in Australia are managed by a combi nation of government owned uti lities (including local government) and private util ities. T he number of util ities in each stare and terrirory and the approximate permanent popu lation served by chose utilities is shown in Table I . Ir ca n be seen fro m chis table chat the population served by urban water utilities in Australia outside of capital cities is in the order of 6-7 million, which highlights their collective importance at a national level. Failure to undertake adequate urban water supply planning outside of Australia's capital cities co uld therefore have significant ramifications. Table I also ill ustrates the varyi ng way in which the provision of urban water management services is geographically divided in each state and territory: â&#x20AC;˘ Northern Territo ry, So uth Austral ia and Western Australia have a large govern menc

technical features

ml - - -- ••.• -

water supply entity to manage non-metropolitan urban water supply across most or all of the scare or terri tory. Population densities outside of capital cities in rhese scares and territory are low. • New South Wales and Queensland manage urban water supply ar the local council level, wi th small utilities covering relatively small areas. • Victoria has amalgamated local water utili ties run by local councils into regional water utilities accountable direcrly to rhe Stare Government. • Tasmania has a mixture of individual local councils operating independently (as per rhe NSW and Quee nsland models), and local government utilities jointly owned by several councils (similar to the Victorian model) . Key Elements in Water Supply Planning

T he level of expertise in water supply planning in Austral ia is high by world stan dards, with comprehensive guidelin es ava ilable to water uriliries in Victoria (DSE, 2005), New South Wales (DEUS, 2004) and Queensland (DNRM, 2005), as well as a national framework fo r urban water supply planning published by the Water Services Association of Australia (Erlanger and Neal, 2005). Water supply plan ning guidel ines in Australia have in some cases been driven by rhe water industry and supported by governmen ts char generally appreciate the uncertainties su rrounding water su pply plann ing. In contrast, the latest edition of the Am erican Water Wo rks Association (2007) Water Resources Planning Manual remains silent on rhe issue of climate change in water supply planning, which would appear to be a major oversight rhar has nevertheless been in line with federa l government policy on chis issue in the Uni ted Scares. Sou nd water supply plann ing in Australia has partly been borne of necessity due to our highly variable climate and runoff. Studies have shown that in terms of stream flow, Austral ia's runoff variabi liry is about double chat of rivers in the northern hemisphere (Peel et al., 2004). T his characteristic combined with the high evaporation races in Australia means char rhe volume of water char is ava ilable for con sumption is much less here than fo r si milar sized water storage reservo irs overseas. In reviewing a water supply plan, one would expect to see provision of rwo key elem ents, namely:

Table 1. Number of non-metropolitan urban water utilities in each state or territory outside of capital cities State or Territory

Number of utilities

Approx. population served Ill

New South Wales


2,000,000 77,000 1,700,000 400,000

Northern Territory Queensland South Australia

125 3 12 12

Tasmania Victoria Western Austral ia Total

330,000 1,500,000 680,000

3 263


( 1) From a variety of sources including the Australian Bureau of Statistics census information and water utility annual reports. These are approximate numbers for illustration purposes only and include rural areas unlikely to be serviced by water utilities.

• Institutional support - regulatory drivers, guidance, cools and datasets that are available at a state, territory or national level for use by util ities in water supply plann ing; and • Technical rigour - knowledge of rhe essential technical co mponents of urban water supply plan ning. The elements of lnstitutional Support rhat are required to promote effective water supply planning are shown in Figure 1, and Figure 2 presents the key elements char are necessary to ensure char there is Tech nical Rigour in the plann ing process. The assessment criteri a for technical rigour were based on chose discussed in Erlanger and Neal (2005). In the ATSE Report on which chis paper is based the authors addressed each of the 35 individual elements listed in rhe figures. T hese along with rhe outcomes of the investigation are summarised in the next section.

Planning -Adequate planning honzon

(TRI )

In our srndy, the degree of insrirucional support was assessed against availab le Scace policies, regulations, legislation and guidelines, and the degree of techn ical rigour was assessed wirh reference to an example plan obtained from each state or territory. We sum marise below the outco mes of chis srndy which is then fo llowed by six recommendations. In so me pares of Australia significa nt aspects of one or bod, of these cwo elements of inscicucional support and technical rigour for water supply planning were largely absent. This siruacion must be remedied if urban water supplies in regional areas are to be adequately maintained in the face of uncertainties about fu ture water availability and demand. An example of a long-term urban water supply plan in areas outside of capital

!:,ycmnl su11121l! laf2nn1liQn 1n!l !l!c nQV,ing projections -level of -

-Plan of action (TR2 I) /

Some Comments on the Australian Scene

olljectJve (TR2. TR3)

-Syslem y,eld (TR4) -Growth 1n demand (TR5)


-Timeframe unlll demand exceeds oupply (TR8)


Technical Rigour

-Energy consumption (TRl6) ~

(applied to plans for review)


-Conmuntty c:onsullation (TR17) -Other walef UM<S (TR18) -Enwonmental lmpacll (TRl9)

· Triple bottom line allffll1*1t (TR20)

Managemeal Qf uncertainty ·Yield diotribution (TRl3)

-Climate change analysis (TRl4) ·land use change analysis (TRI 5)

Demand managemen! an!l PQ!able substitution -Demand_, (TR7) -System 1os1e1 (TR8) -Recy,:led water. stormwater, -ination, waler entlllemenl transferw (TR9 to TR12)

Figure 2. Review elements for providing technical rigour support for water supply pla nning. Journal of the Australian Water Association


NOVEMBER 2007 63

technical features refereed paper

cities was readily located in every state or territory except Tasmania. However, ic is noted chat the Tasmanian government called for tenders for a long-term water supply plan for the cown of Bicheno in early 2007, indicating chat an example plan is likely co be ava ilable in lace 2007. The review of a single example plan only in each Scace or Territory was designed co provide a quick snapshoc of how Scare and T erritory planning procedures were being implemented by Australia's 263 water utilities. l e was incended char chis snapshot would be supplemented by more geographically extensive reviews in the fu ture. All scares and terri tories have a policy, regulatory or legislative framework for managing water resource avail abi lity from an individual resource, bur the re is a lack of consideration of how urban water uti li ties fir into chis framework. There is no for mal requirement fo r urban water utilities in South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia and che Northern Territory co undertake long-term urban water supply planni ng. In rhe ATSE Report, it was recommended char a study be undertaken co assess che efficacy of che nonmetropolitan urban water utility institutional models in the various state and territories co determine which models are most appropriate co adopt. The shortcomings identified in chis review in the areas of climate change, vegetation change and che setting of che size of consumptive pools from which urban water utilities are allocated water should be immediately addressed and incorporated into future long-term urban water supply planning. T his recommendation supports actio ns idencified under che National Water Initiative.

Recommendations As a consequence of the investigations undertaken in the scudy, che ATSE Report makes six key recommendations co improve water supply planning for Australia's non-metropolitan urban water utilities. Mose scares and territories have a policy, regulatory or legislative framework for managing water resou rce availability from an individual resource, but there is lack of consideration of how urban water uciliries fir into chis framework. Assigning resources from a single source for water resource planning, which has been a prime focus of che National Wacer




lniciacive, is a reparace decision making process from selecting resources fro m a variety of sources for urban water supply planning. T his distinction is not un iversally acknowledged across Australia an d there is no forma l requirement for urban water uti lities in South Austral ia, Tasmania, Western Austral ia and che Norchern Terri tory co undertake longcerm urban water supply planning. Current projects to review and reform aspects of wacer management and regulation in Western Australia and Tasmania present an opportunity co create a regulatory driver in these states. Ideally, water supply planning sho uld also be lin ked with energy and land use planning decis ions in an integrated manner. Recommendation l

Consideration should be given to providing greater regulatory drivers for water supply planning for urban water utilities in all states and territories, with the exception of Victoria and more 1-ecently New South Wales, where a sound policy framework for urban water supply planning already exists. This will improve the quality, extent and transparency ofurban water supply planning in these states and territories. Greater regulatory drivers should replace financial incentives in Queensland and be coupled with other appropriate project funding arrangements. The extent and quality of water supply planning by local water utilities in Queensland is currently unknown by the Queensland Scace Government, which is a significant information gap when assessing che adequacy of current planning activities. Recommendation 2

Consideration should be given to monitoring the progress ofwater supply planning by local water utilities in

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Journol of the Australian Water Association

Queensland as part of its existing annual water utility benchmarking report, similar to that which occurs in New South Wales. The Tasmanian Govern ment set up a caskforce in lace 2006 co reform its water and sewerage sector. The ATSE Report argues chat rh e caskforce should stro ngly consider establ ishing regulatory drivers for long-term urban water supply planning in chat scace. T he absence of evidence of systematic urban water supply planning in T asman ia highl ights che urgent need for urban water reform in chat scare. Recommendation 3

Consideration should be given to establishing an urban water supply management and planning unit in the Tasmanian Government to guide and regulate local water utilities, similar to the role currently played by government agencies in Victoria (Department ofSustainability and Environment (DSE)), New South Wales (Department of Water and Energy (DWE)) and south-east Queensland (Queensland Water Commission (QWC)!Department ofNatural Resources and Water (DNRW)). There is a variety of institucional models for non-metropoli tan urban water supply management at a state and territory-wide level, ranging fro m a single util ity across mosr of a scare or territory co a mulcicude (100+) of local council-owned water utilities. T he inscicucional model adopted is considered to have a direct impact on che extent and quali ty of urban water supply planning undertaken in each state and territory. A comparison of progress against scace urban wate r supply plann ing guideli nes in Victoria and New South Wales, and within New South Wales itself, highlighcs chat smaller utilities are slower co commence their urban water supply planning despite che availability of Scace Governmenc support. Managing and plann ing water supplies is becoming increasingly more complex with more complicated water treatment technologies and a greater diversity of warer sources. le is questionable whether inscicucional models of the past are adequate in che light of chis increasing technical complexity chat requi res the ab ility co recognise che need for and effectively use of highly specialised skills. Recommendation 4

A study should be undertaken ofthe efficacy ofthe non-metropolitan urban water utility institutional models in the various states and territories to determine which models are most appropriate to adopt, as current

refereed paper

arrangements are not uniformly producing desirable water supply planning (and potentially many other) outcomes. Stares and territories typically do not give adequate consideratio n to uncertaincy in their water supply plan ning. Most notably there was no quantification of the effect of cli mate change in water supply planning in Q ueensland, New Sou th Wales, Tasman ia and the Northern Territory. Given recenc cl imate conditions and global warming trends, rhi s oversight is of concern. Determi ning cl imate change impacts on ru noff at a state-wide level can significantly reduce rhe techn ical burden on water utilities, encourage scenario plan ning for a range of climate change conditions and promote co nsistency of info rmation in broader planni ng foru ms, as seen in Victoria. T riple botto m line (social, financial/econom ic and environmencal) assessments of demand red uction and supply enhancemenc options were not evident in example water supply plans for Victoria, rhe Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia and we re absenc in Tasmania because no example plan was available. This indicates that many water supply planni ng decisions are still being made without raking into accounc net social and environ111ental benefits and rely solely on fi nancial cost co111 parisons. Triple bottom line assessment fra meworks are known ro exist in most stares and territories. All state and territory resource managers are yet to co mplete the setting of rhe size of the consumptive pool, which hampers rhe ability of water supply utili ties to invest in new water infrastructu re with cercaincy. Most stares and territories are neari ng completion of rh is task. All states and territories lack informat ion on the effect of cl imate change on grou ndwater yield and rhe effect of land use change on groundwater and surface water yields. The expansion of plantation forestry and rhe prevalence of bushfires in recenc years in particular will have sign ificant but currently largely un known impacts on future urban warer supplies. This technical issue has been addressed in some stares by sire specific studies, bur no stare or territory resource managers have yet provided uniform advice ro water supply util ities on rhe nature and magnitude of this impact in all of their water supply areas. Recommendation 5 The shortcomings identified in this review in the area ofclimate change, vegetation

change and the setting of the size of consumptive pools should be immediately addressed and incorporated into future longterm urban water supply planning. This recommendation supports actions identified under the National Water Initiative that are currently being implemented by states and territories. Further invesrigario ns and analysis are recom mended to ascerrain the exren r to which sound urban water supply planning is being undertaken in all regional areas, rarher rhan jusr rhe examinarion of readi ly ava ilable example plans . Recommendation 6 Following on from this review, consideration should be given to undertaking a complete investigation of non-metropolitan urban water supply planning to gain a full picture ofthe extent to which individual utilities are undertaking long-term urban water supply planning and implementing the actions from those plans. Al111osr all urba n water utili ties and scare and territory agencies approached for chis study shared in for mation freely and responded to requests in a timely man ner. This high lights rhe willi ngness of Australia's water supply ma nagers and plan ners to parcicipare in warer indusrry reform despire the pressures of day to day water supply system management. There will nevertheless be a lag between instituti ng rhe above recom111endarions at a stare and territory level, having rhem taken up by water utilities in their water supply planning and then implementing rhe actions identified in those plans. T his lag 111eans rhar urgent action is required in order to better prepare rhe nation's nonmerropolitan urban water utilities to adequately balance supply and de111and in the near future.

Conclusions A key co nclusion rhat ca n be drawn fro m rhe ATSE Report is rhar there are a number of short-comings in the long-rerm planning of water supply for nonmetropolitan urban areas in Australia. These short-comings should be addressed by a thorough investigation of nonmerropo liran urban water supply planni ng to gain a full picture of rhe exrenc to which individual uriliries are undertaking long-term urban water supply planning and implementing the actions from those plans.

Acknowledgments We sincerely acknowledge other authors (Rory Nathan and John Radcliffe) of rhe ATSE Report on which this paper is based

and also Vaughan Beck, Paul Dougas, Mike Mancon and Ross Young who were members of rhe ATSE review ream.

References American Water Works Association (2007) Water Resources Planning. Manual of Water Supply Practices M50. Second edition. D EUS (2004) Besr Practice Management of

Water Supply and Sewerage. Guidelines. May 2004. Depamnenr of Energy, U t ili ties a nd Susrainabiliry. D EUS (2006) 2004/05 Water Supply and Sewerage Benchmarking Report. Department of Energy, Uti lities and Susrainabil iry. DNRM (2005c) Planning Guidelines far Water Supply and Sewerage. Department of Natural Resources and Mines. DSE (2005) Guidelines for the Development ofa Water Supply Dem1111d Smuegy. Department of Susrainabiliry and Environment. ERA (2004) Inquiry on Urban Water and Wastewater Pricing- Methodology Paper. 15 October 2004. Economic Regulatory Authority of Western Australia. Erlanger, P. and Neal, B. (2005) Fmmework far Urban Water Resource Pl{fnning. Water Services Association of Australia Occasional Paper No. 14 - J une 2005. Neal, B.P., McMahon, T.A., Nathan, R.J., & Radcliffe, J.C. (2007) Review of Water

Supply Planningfar Australia's Nonmetropolitan Urban Water Utilities, Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, Melbourne, May 2007. Peel, M.C., McMahon, T.A. & Finlayson, B.L. (2004) : Continental differences in rhe variability of annual runoff - update and reassessment. )our. Hydrology, Vol. 295, pp. I 85-197. Samra, S. ( 1989) Survey ofSecurity ofSupply for Co111111y Towns in Australia in Proceedings of the National Workshop on Planning and Management of Water Resource Systems: Risk and Reliabiliry, G.C. Dandy and A. R. Simpson (editors), AWRC Conference Series No. I 7, 1989. SK.M (2003) Review ofthe performance criteri{f

in Sydney Catchment Authority's operming licence. Prepared for the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal. VWlA (2006) 2005/2006 Victorian Water

Review. An accountability report for the Victorian W{fter industry. Victorian Water Industry Association. Water Services Association of Australia (2005)

Testing the Water. Urban warer in our growing cities: the risks, challenges, innovarion and planning. WSAA Position Paper No. 0 I . October 2005.

The Authors Bradley P Neal is Practice Leader, Water Resources Planning ar Sinclair Knight Merz,; Thomas A McMahon is Emeritus Professor in the Department of Civil & Environmencal Engineering ar rhe University of Melbourne, r.mcmahon@civeng,

Journal of the Australian Water Association


NOVEMBER 2007 65

technical features refereed paper

RAISING THE BAR - OPERATORS' INVOLVEMENT IN DESIGN Z Slavnic Abstract The majo r fl aw w ith the current design process is that it insulates design to a great extent from intensive scruti ny by experienced operators. The paper attempts to address th is issue by reviewing rhe cu rrent design process and suggesting so me alternative approaches.






Traditional Design Model The tradit ional project delivery process is shown in Figure I, and the operators' input varies through out the delivery phases. Design is carried out by specialise consultants for obvious reason; th ey have the necessary expertise. Generally, the operators' involvement in the design phase can be described, at best, as m inimal. Namely, the o perators provide very limited contribution when it comes not only to concept design b ut also detailed design.

le needs to be mentioned that alliance partnering is perhaps the only delivery method which seeks to bri ng together all stake holders, including operators, bur the following cou ld be of concern:

Take advantage of practical experience in operation. 66





Heavy: Inspection of constructed works, participation in commissioning , undertaking O&M training , etc.



Minimal: Partial review of detailed design documentation. Medium: Partial review of O&M manuals and design in progress. Mainly assisting contractors in site works and responsible for day-to-day O&M duties.

Introduction Many water professionals are aware, or have personally witnessed, that capital wo rk projects, whether green- or brown-field sites, fre quently fai l to meet design intent. This is equally true for design only, D&C, DBO, BOOT or even collaborative arrangemen ts such as alliance project del ivery method. T here appears to be a common denominator related to design of projects. The major flaw with rhe current design frame is that it insulates design to a great extent from intensive scrutiny by experienced o perators. Some water utilities are m ore successful than others in engagi ng their operators in project design; however one can not bur ask the questio n: Is there more we can do co improve design of water and wastewater t reatment facilities? The answer obvio usly depends on the cause of the p rob lem .

Insignificant: Involved in preparation of needs specification at Plant Manager level.


Operators in charge: Responsible for operation and maintenance, involved in defect rectification during warranty period.

Figure 1. Trad itional O perator's Input in Pro ject Delivery.

• Smaller water utili ties may nor have personnel with the required expertise to make the necessary contribut ion to design, and the all iance pa rties may overlook to b ring external O&M specialists to the project, unless it has process proving or operational period. • The tendency co bring operatio nal personnel at too h igh level, i.e. plant manager level, should be avoided as that alone may not ensure significant contrib ution to design. The current design process, which is almost universa l for other p roject delivery methods, can be ou tlined as fo llows: • Water utilities develop a set of design documentation, typically Concept Design , Needs Specification and other technical specifications of a general nature, e.g. General Civil Specification, General Mechanical Specification, General Electrical Specification, etc. The design documentation may be prepared either by external design consultants or in-house specialists, if water utilities have expertise in th is area. • As a rule of thumb, derail design is carried our by consultants and they may be

Journal of the Australian Water Association

d irectly engaged by water utilities, be subcontractors to the main contractor or work as part of a partnering ream. • Formal design reviews and workshops are then carried our during derailed design p hase. For more complex and risky projects, HAZOP and CHAZOP studies also take place and are commonly conducted when derail design is 90% complete, bur could be more frequent, e.g. ar 60% and 90 % completion wh ich is certainly advantageous. The operators atten d these design forums and provide com ments. • Design is then finalised by co nsul rants for construction by the main contractor or the constructor in the case of alliance partnering. • Design changes may rake place during construction, commission ing or warranty period, bur these are often insignificant in scale as construction works are already more or less complete. The traditional design model appears to be problematic in both conception an d implementation, as discussed below. Conceptually, water utilities appear to be underestimating the importance of talking to and involving operators as early as

technical features refereed paper

possible. Consequencly, tech nical specifications are prepared without much operators' inpu t, hence their experience in plant and equipment operation, control and maintenance is rarely, if at all, translated into specific design requirements. This documentation is then used for derailed design no matter what the delivery meth od. This problem is com pounded by the technical literature avai lab le, as it provides insu fficient guidance and level of derail on design in respect to operability and particularly controllability of individual systems and treatment faci li ty as a whole. It is also felt chat inadequate co nsideration is paid to design during render evaluation and selection process. Two issues are most notable. Firscly, renderers should be requi red to provide more derai ls on the methodology they inten d to employ to deliver the requi red design deliverables. Seco ndly, it needs to be kept in mind chat the design with lowest cost is not necessa rily the cheapest, but this issue is beyond the sco pe of rhis paper. There is somethi ng systematically wrong with the implementation of the current design model. Namely, large water utilities

have their own teams for managing execution of projects. Lee's call chem contract teams, although they may be known as asset solution, contract group, capital works group, etc. Smaller water uti lities usually engage a third party to manage their projects. The major drawback with the implementation of the trad itional design model is that co ntract teams are required co ensure compliance with technical documentation which is basically incomplete, as it does not contain in put from the operators in the first instance. Further, the primary concern of contract teams is on project delivery, hence the emphasis on costs, ri me, etc. In add ition, contract reams have no expertise in O&M aspects. Accordingly, their comm itment ro ensuring design that meets O&M requiremenrs is far less passionate. U nbelievable as ir may seem, although belonging to the same organisation, interests of contract teams unwittingly dominate over the interest of those for whom a treatment facil ity is being built and who are co operate it for decades to come.

New Design Model

Another major flaw in the implementation of the current design model, when it com es

The water industry operators have intimate knowledge on plant and equipment

to either green-field or brown-field projects, is insufficient time for the operators to become fully fam iliar with designs. T he major drawback with the for mer is char the operators are mainly engaged ar the stare of constructio n when design is more or less complete. Brown-field projects/programs are usually fast-tracked with design being finalised while the wo rks are being constructed. In such environment, operators are constancly under pressure to assist construction teams with plant shut downs, flow diversions, etc. Further, the operators are required to attend numerous des ign workshops, HAZOPS, etc. On top of this the ope rators are also required to carry out th eir day-to-day O&M duties, and this is obviously of far greater importance to them due to responsibil iti es to meet effiuent discharge licence or drinking water stan dards, etc. No wonde r then chat the operators' contribution to various design forums is limited and chat asset owners expecrario ns were freq uen cly not reali sed.

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Journal of the Australian Water Association


NOVEMBER 2007 67

technical features refereed paper

operation, control and maintenance and can contribute enormously on these aspects during design of projects. Therefore, it makes sense to have them d irectly involved in design from its inception. We must recognise that design of water or wastewater treatment plants is for a long-distance journey, and it is no doubt for d esigners to drive, as they have the necessary design expertise. Bur the operators should sir next to the driver to provide directions char will facilitate operation, co ntrol and maintenance throughout the facilities' economic life.

• Capture the operators' experience in operation and maintenance, and embed it in design specifications. • Engage process champ ions, i.e. operators with expertise in a particular process, plane and equipment, as early as possible in detailed design. Even b etter, make them part of che design ream. • Provide relief to the operations ream to enable the key operators to prepare themselves in ord er to maximise their contribution at formal design review fo rums. • Allow the operators enough time to 'digest' design documentation, in particular control specification. From the author's experience the missing link between a welldesigned control system and operatorfrien dly functional faci lity is a document on control aspects (the au thor calls it operating philosophy). Operating philosophy should be a document which in plain English spells o ur how the plant, equipment, sub-systems and treatment facility as a wh ole operate, function, interrelate and are controlled. The existing Process Design Specification, a document used to facil itate development of Functional Design Specificatio n, clearly suits PLC/SCADA engineers only, and does not meet the above requirements, hence is of limited value co the operators. Therefore, the alternative design frame requires che designers and operational personnel to work together throughout the

68 NOVEMBER 2007








Figure 2 summarises the required operators input into delivery of projects starting from the p lanning phase through to the posracceprance. Ir is believed that this approach, coupled with the early involvement of a commissioning agent (see "Project Delivery and Commissioning - An Integrated Approach ," Water, Nov. 2006), would significantly improve design and project outcomes. In cataloguing what needs to be done in respect to design, it is natural to look what could have been done better and , in ligh t of the above, the following key issues spring to mind:






> Participation in defining needs specification, eg: >

• equipment sizing, • process performance, • assets to be renewed, etc. Participation in development of general mechanical, electrical and control specifications.

> Thorough review of design drawings throughout detailed design phase.

> Participation in design workshops.

> Thorough review of operating philosophy. > Participation in HAZOP and CHAZOP studies.

> Inspection of constructed work for compliance with design. > Review of contractors' safe work method statements and cut-over plans. > Assisting contractors during shut-downs. > Thorough review of contractors' O&M documentation.

> Heavy participation in commissioning. > Heavy participation in process start-up and proving.



> Review of amended O&M documentation. > Undertaking training in O&M. > Thorough review of commissioning documentation.

> Inspection of constructed works for defects.


r-- -- ---------- - 1 : Hai:· 1-l(c'c1~1- .. , ,:1c;~ , '


,:, ,-:: 'O]--;I~-:: . ;- [')'

~ r ~,v~


v_ \




> Responsible for O&M. > Process fine tuning and optimisation. > Process & equipment troubleshooting. > Thorough review of as-built documentation. > Verification of defects rectification during warranty period.

Figure 2. Operator Input in Project Delivery - New Model.

design phase, and beyond. Although there is no way rhac we can be certain that the outlined model wi ll achieve better results, we know from the past that che gap between asset owners' expectations and reality was signifi cant in coo many instances. Ir is also known chat we (contract teams, asset owners, designers, cont ractors, equipment sup pliers, etc) are in chis together, and che operators' involvement can only complement chose of others to improve not only design outcomes bur delivery of projects as a whole.

Conclusion Ir ap pears chat we have lose sight of the ultimate goal of water or wastewater p rojects, i.e. a facility with maximum treatmen t capability and minimum life cycle costs, and che one chat is operator friend ly. T he required design model needs to refl ect chis perspective. The most fun damental change required for improvement is co increase the operators' involvement as they have invaluable experience on O&M aspects, and to make

Journal of the Australian Water Association

design more open to their scrutiny. If the current design delivery practice is to be rethought the onus is most definitely o n water utilities, notably asset owners, to start the process; otherwise others, who have limi ted exposure to O&M, will make d ecisions on matters that d irectly co ncern asset owners, and concern them in the long run. The fa ilure to recognise the centrality of operators' direct involvement in design from the project inceptio n can bring nothing bur a multitude of O&M problems resulting in too high operational expenditu re throughout eco nomic life of water assets or costly modifications during operational phase.

The Author Dr Zoran Slavnic (PhD, MBT, MEng, BEng) has 25 years experience in design , construction, commissioning and O&M in che water indust ry. He is currently Commissioning Manager with Laing O'Rourke (Australia). Email

fereed paper


box) and Eucalyptus camaldulensis (red gum), rhe spread of mistletoe in trees, and an increase in abundance of salr-toleranr species such as A triplex rhagodioides (salrbush) and Halosarcia pergranulata (samph ire).


River regul ation is rhe primary cause SO<th Austnlla of soil salinisation and subsequent wetland degradation in the MurrayDarli ng Basin. A Ramsar Wetland experiencing these problems is Paringa Island Wetland, located two kilometres upstream of Lock 5 near Renmark in Sou th Australia. A network of 11 groundwater mo ni toring wells was installed and a monitoring program initiated as pare of chis study. The groundwater salinity levels in the so uthern island were fo und to exceed seawater. Vegetation su rveying has shown that this has resulted in dieback of black box and pro liferation of sa lr-rolerant species. Preliminary modelling and Figure 1. Location of Paringa Island Wetland. ionic co mposition resting indicated salt in the wetland was primarily Pari nga, approximately rwo kilometres from regional sources, concentrated by upstream of Lock 5, as shown in Figure I. evaporation of shallow groundwater. It is a 57-hecrare sire, pare of a Ramsar Results suggest char sale accumulation could Wetland extend ing alo ng the River Murray be remedi aced by lowering of the River floodplain from Renmark to che Victorian weir-pool level for several months at a rime and New South Wales borders. on a regular basis or im plemen ting continuous groundwater pumping as pare of There has been a significant decline in rhe a future salt interception scheme. In health of the wetland vegetation over the conjunction with chis, regular flood ing lase 20 to 30 years. This has been evident in overtopping che permanent creek banks the dieback of Eucalyptus largiflorens (black char connect rhe central lagoon to rhe river would promote red gum growth NEW SOUTH and flush accum ulated sale from WALD affected areas.

This paper secs out background research and current approaches co solving rhe problem of decli ning health in the Murray-Da rling Basin. le then discusses rhe field invesrigarions cond ucted at Paringa Isla nd Wetland, leading to a proposal of remediation options for rhe wetland.

Background to Problems and Solutions Salinity in the Murray-Darling Basin T he River Murray is rhe only natural drain for groundwater and rhe associated salt loads for the entire Murray Darling Basin. The Murray Darling Basin is a naturally saline environment, with regional gro undwater salinities ranging from l 4,000 to over 35,000 mg.L- 1 (Doble, 2004). Figure 2 shows che direction of regional groundwater flow, indicating groundwater discharge in the Paringa region.

Introduction The aim of rhis research project was to gain an understanding of che existi ng problems in Paringa Island Wetland and co develop possible remediation options co assist in developing a restoration plan. This wetland is experiencing degradation resulting from salinisacion, and is located on the Murray River near

River regulation is believed to be rhe primary cause of rhe salini ty observed in Paringa Island Wetland. Weirs and irrigation works on the flood plain and adjacent areas impede flow down che river to che ocea n, and are now causing che groundwater table to rise Qolly et al., I 996) . Salt pans are fo rmed when saline groundwater rises close co rhe surface. Changes in the flow regime have caused half of rhe wetlands along rhe river to disappear, and many ochers have suffered significant degradation of riparian vegetation (Blanch, 2004).


Thi s p aper won the 2006 AWA National Undergraduate Water Prize. It has si nee been peer-reviewed and slightly amended.

Figure 2. Regional groundwater flow (after Evans et al. , 1990).

Trying to protect a Ramsar wetland.

Journal of the Australian Water Association


NOVEMBER 2007 69

technical features

Groundwater and surface water

Groundwater Level (m AHD

Flow and exchange o f groundwate r in a floodplain is governed by the hydraulic condu ctivities within the river channel an d fl oodplain sediments, the relationship b etween stream stage and groundwater gradients, and the geom etry of scream channels within the fl oodp lain (Wrob licky et al. , 1998; Woessner, 2000). One wetland system where chis co mplexity has been extensively investigated is at Chowilla. Its close proximity (20 km upstream ) made it useful for comparisons with Paringa Island Wetland. C h emical composition studies have been conducted on regional groun dwater, allowing the so urces of local groundwater to be determined. A valuable technique for determ ining the origin of water from its chemical signature is the use of fingerprint diagrams, as d iscussed by Vader et al. (1994) .

• • • • • •

16.15 -16.20 16.20 -16.22 16.22 -16.24 16.24 - 16.26 16.26 - 16.28 16.28 -16.30 16.30 -16.32 16.32 -16.34 16.34 -16.36

Field Investigations and Results Vegetation analysis

Vegetation surveyi ng was carried o ut in July 20 05, in order to determine how che health and distribution of dominant vegetation species in the wetland are related to the salinity problems. Vegetation surveying was carried ou t in forty-one, 30x30 m quadracs across ch e wetland. The seven dominant species surveyed in the wetland were E. camaldulensis and E.

Salinity and wetland vegetation health

Vegetation type, health and abundance are key indicators of floodplain and wecland health. Vegetation provides boch a good indication of che nature of the conditions under che soil in che plane root zone, and a reco rd of flood ing histo ry. For chis reaso n studying che vegetation in weclan ds is valuable in gaining an understanding of rhe grou ndwater conditions. Red gums req uire fresh water wich salinity less chan 15,000 EC and are thus prevalent along creek and river banks in the wetland (Ben nett and George, 1996 in MDBC 2003). Black box, che m ost dominant tree species in che wetland, is more drought tolerant, wichscand ing salini ty up to 40 ,000 EC (Taylor & Walker, 1996). Black box stress provides in formation about fl ood frequency and groundwater as these trees require fl ooding ac lease every 10 years (Taylor & Walker, 1996) . Salcbush and samph ire can tolerate the more salinised areas of the wecland wh ere groundwater salinity is comparable to chat of seawater (55,000




water flows as increasing the frequency of flooding could cause damage to domestic and agricu ltu ral infrastructure. Methods for disposal of saline groundwater include d irect disposal to the River and the use of evaporation basi ns. The natural flooding regime could also be recreated by flooding the wetland artificially and drying it through the use of pumps and control structures.

EC) . Numerical techniques such as ordination can be used to quantify che relationships between the degree of salinisacion and che resulti ng vegetation discribmion in che wetland. Such an ordination was successfully applied by Bricom et al. (2000) ac Scotts Creek near Morgan. Methods of managing salt accumulation

Groundwater management op tions incl ude altering the hydrological cycle by reach manipulation , allowing environmental flows, lowering water levels, and the bui ld ing of flow control structures such as embankments and weirs (Pressey, 1986; Thompson, 1986; Lloyd & Balla, 1986). Sale interception schemes have been implemented successfully on a large scale along the River Murray. Sale interception was recommended as a remediation option for the Chowilla floodpla in by Jolly et al. (1993) in preference to regulating surface

Journal of the Australian Water Association

largiflorens, Muehlenbeckia jlorulenta (lignum), A. rhagodioides, H. pergranulata, Enchylaena tomentosa (ruby salcbush), and Disphyma australe (p igface). Environmental parameters also determined at representative points in each q uadrac included soil sali n ity, depth to groundwater, distance to freshwater, and average elevation . Analysis of the vegetation data was carried out using che program PC-ORD 4 as described by McCune and Mefford (1 999) co perform ordination (nonmecric multid imensional analysis and principal component axis). This is a technique which allows the user to better visualise in cwo or th ree-dimensional plots the complex m u lcidimentional relatio nships found in natu re . Several ordination analyses were performed, but the most valuable was fou nd to be an environmental ordination, where species dist ributions were correlated with che environm ental variables surveyed .

A key findin g from the vegetation analysis was that the most degraded site in the wetland is near piezometer PAR 3 (see Figure 3 for piezometer locations). T his degradation is caused by a shallow groundwater table and high soil salinity in excess of I 0,000 EC. Samphire was dominant due to its high salt tolerance. Both red gu ms and lignum were found to be su rviving in highly saline soils only when able to access fresh water from nearby so urces such as the creeks and lagoon . T here was a positive correlation between black box crown density and depth to ground water as in the western half of southern island (near PAR 4 and UA 5), supporting the hypothesis that vegetation can be used as surrogate piezo meters. Soil salin ities in these regions were less than in surrounding areas, due to reduced evaporation rates. T his has resu lted in black box trees dom in ating the vegetation in these regions. Since groundwater evaporation rates are exponentially related to depth to groundwater, a possible management strategy fo r the wetland could be lowering of the water cable to reduce groundwater evaporation and subsequent sale co ncentration in upper soil layers.

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Groundwater investigations

T he insrallacion of a piezometer network was viral to gaining an understanding of groundwater hydraulics and co nditio ns in che system. Eleven piezo mecers were positioned in transects to enab le trends in groundwater head differe nces through che wecland to be modell ed (F igure 3) . Following che installation of the piezo mecer network, che depth to groundwater and groundwater salinity were determined , and topographic surveying was carried out. This enabled che calculation of piezomecric head di ffere nces and determination of salinity variations th roughout the wetland to be performed. In order to enable the ongoing collection of gro undwater data to aid further research, a regular monitoring program was instigated with Renrnark High School scudencs. In situ well tests were carried our on several piezomerers in che weclan d in order to determine che horizontal hydraulic cond uctivity of the upper aqu ifer. Hydraulic co nductivity data are essential for assessment of che prevalent aqui fer conductivity conditions, and for determining possible pumping rates and aqui fer respo nses, for the in vestigation of potential salinity remediation options. Soi l infiltration rate rests were carried out in order to determine the rate at wh ich surface water is able to infiltrate to che groundwate r.

Ionic compositio n resting was employed as a diagnostic too l to determine the sources of che saline groundwater in the wecland, and co assess the extent of in teractions between surface waters and groundwater. A co mpariso n was made between che relative concentrations of ch loride, sodiu m, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfate and bicarbonate of surface waters and groundwater in the wetland, and the compositions of groundwater from the regional aqu ifers. Fingerprint diagrams show chat the groundwater signatures from piezornecers PAR 2 and PAR 4 march chose of regional groundwater (Pliocene Sands, Remark Group, and Murray Group aquifers), and are significa ntly different from chat of river water (Figure 4). Field observations support the theory that the wecland lies atop a series of irregular sand, silt and clay alluvial deposits laid hundreds or thousands of years ago. As a result there is considerable variabi li ty in the observed soil and aquifer properties, leadi ng to regions of relatively low permeability, and, more significandy, a large region in the southern island in which the depth to groundwater is shallow. Boch the soil infiltration rate and hydraulic conductivity are relatively high (up to 2-5 mm/min and 10 m/day respectively at PAR 3). It is chis region

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Journal of the Australian Water Association


NOVEMBER 2007 71

-+- RenmarK Group



Ev•por•tion 0.7


- - - Mmay Group



E\lapor ation 0.5


___,.__ Aiocene Sands


- - Ev•por•Uon 0.3




14 ,000



::::i 30%

g 25%


';fl 20%







8,000 6,000






0 +.w----<---+----+-----<---+----+-----< 1967 1972 1977 1982 1987 1992 1997 2002 Year



Na Ion






Figure 5. Salinity accumulation including evaporation and

Figure 4 Fingerprint diagram of regional and loca l

rai nfal l.

groundwater, and surface water.

which was of particu lar interest in chis study, as it is experiencing some of the most obvious problems with salinisacion and vegetation die-back. Preliminary findi ngs suggest that these characteristics have combined to create the ideal conditions for the observed advancement of the salinity problems. The proximity of the water cable to the surface, associated with the high permeability of the overlying so il, has led to high rates of evaporation of the highlysaline groundwater, which appears to be of primarily regional origin. Saline groundwater being drawn upwards th rough the soil by evaporation and capillary action has resulted in the accumulation of large quantities of salt in the upper soil layers and surface depressions. This has resulted in the fo rmation of sale pans and hyper saline pools. The hyper sali ne regions of che wetland are also associated with depressions in the piezometric surface, which is elsewhere relatively flat, as seen in Figure 3. The elevation of the piezometric surface across the wetland does not appear to vary greatly, but is below char of che cu rrent river water level, indicating chat river water is likely to be discharging to the groundwater within the wetland. The hydraulic gradients present imply che influx of regional groundwater co the aquifer in the wetland. This was confirmed by results of ionic composition

tests of groundwater, which impl ied that mixing between river and regional groun dwater is occu rring in the northern island, but is less apparent, or even negligible, in the more-saline southern island, where the salini ty problems are most significant.

Modelling the wetland system A water balance and salt accumulation model was developed using daily climate and river salinity data, available from 1967 to 1999, to test hypotheses about the origin of salt accumu lation in the wetland. The simple bucket model representing the wetland as a single unit provided upper and lower bounds on estimates of the rate of accum ulation of salt. This salt accumulation rate was dependent on the rate of evaporation of river water. In the absence of extended time series piezometric head data, ic was assumed that the groundwater level remained reasonably static throughout the year, maintained by aquifer recharge from river sources and rainfall only. Thus, to maintain chis static water level, it was assumed char the flow of groundwater into the control volume was equal to the rate of evaporation. Evaporation was assumed to be che only outflow from the model control volume. As che races of infiltration of flood water from historical floods and their total effect on the groundwater are not known, it was not possible to include the effect of floo ds in the model. However, rai nfall is better understood as it occurs more frequently, so


16.6 16 .55 16.5


16 .46




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-----PAR#2 --l&',- PAR#4 --+- UA#2 - -¢-- ·UA#4 - G - UA#6

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/ h



16 .35


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16.1 . . . . _ - ~ - - ~ - - - - - ~- ~- - ~ 25-J.m Q-J.JI 23-J.JI 6-Alg 20-Aug 3-Sep 17-Sep

Figure 6. Variation in piezometric head through time. 72 NOVEMBER 2007


Journot of the Austrolian Water Association

K sand


(H 2 - h:) 2L

Kcia)h: - h~)

= ------


Figure 7. 2-D unconfined groundwater flow model.


refereed paper



Day 1

Day 14

Day 28

An attempt to remediate the worst-affected regions of the wetlan d (surroundi ng PAR 3) was made in J une 2005 by artificially flooding it with 10 ML of water from the River Murray. This was accompanied by a rapid and sharp rise in the level of rhe piezomerric surface in char part of rhe wetland (Figure 6). Th is observation was not surprising considering the high permeability of the upper so il layers in chis region, permitting rapid infiltration of floodwate rs.

Day 42












A sign ifica nt rise in groundwater salinity (over 10,000 EC) resu lted from rhe flus hing downwards of sales accumulated in rhe soil. The resultant hyper saline groundwater mound dispersed rapidly. T h is observation raised important questions about rhe value of carrying our localised irregular small flooding events in rhe werlan d. Such one-off events may have a negative impact on vegetation already experiencing stress as a result of lack of fres h water.

'C C:












X (m from bank)

Figure 8. Predicted groundwater response to lowering of weir pool level.

historical rainfall data were accounted for in rh e sale accumulatio n model. It was assumed chat all rainfall infiltrated ch rough rhe soil to rhe shallow groundwater and char chis fresh water would overlay the salty groundwater with little mixing due to density differences, with the result char rhe fres h rainwater would evaporate before the salty groundwater. The model was based on an assumption chat the freshwate r lens resulti ng fro m infiltration would disperse across rhe top of rhe salty groundwater and into the river, removing a small amou nt of sale from the aquifer. Currently the groundwater salinity in rhe most severely degraded pare of rhe wetland is abouc 55,000 EC, comparab le to char of seawater. However, rhe model predicts a dynamic equi librium between evaporative concentration and dilution ar a maximum of 20,000 EC with an evaporation factor of 0.7 (Figure 5). This equilibri um occurs because fresh water input from rain events causes highly sali ne groundwater to flow into rhe river. le then cakes a period of several months for sale accretion due to river water evaporation to replace rhe sale removed during rhe rain event. As it is known chat floods such as occurred in 1956 and 1992 dil ute rhe saline groundwater and flush sale into rhe river, attain ing such a concentration through evaporation of river water alone is highly unlikely. Th us the model results imply char although some of the sale may come from rhe river, a large proportion must origi nate from more-sal ine regional groundwater sources. T his further co nfirms rhe results of ionic composition rests, which implied rhe inflow of regional grou ndwater to the aquifer.

The technically simplest optio n is the raising and lowering of rhe river weir pool level for several months at a rime to effectively recreate rhe narural flooding cycle of rhe Murray. Given rhe current political climate and rhe needs of multiple users of rhe Murray chis option is infeasible ar the present time. However, because of the werland's Ramsar designation , and rhus rhe Government's responsibi lity to seek to preserve the wetland, such options should be invesrigared. Analysis of rhe effect of lowering rhe weir pool involved using a simple 2-d imensional iterative Excel groundwater model based o n Darcy's Law. As shown in Figure 7, the equations used (where Q is groun dwater flow rare, K is hydraulic conducciv iry, and h is


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A similar model was developed to estimate the sale accumulation chat would occur if rhe only groundwater inflow to the wetland was of regional origin. In chis case it was fo und chat rhe resultant grou ndwater sali nity would be several orders of magnitude greater than char observed in the wetland, confirming chat rainfall and river water inflows are significant facto rs in a water balance of rhe wetland.


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Remediation options

Remediation options considered were aimed ar decreasing sale concenrrarion in rhe plant root zone by lowering rhe water table or dilution of the saline groundwater. These options included lowering the river level, implementing continuous groundwater pumping, and draining the lagoon. O ther techniques considered were floodi ng sensitive areas of the wetland, and temporarily drying rhe lagoon.

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Bro"'."n Brothers Engineers Australia Pty Ltd


NOVEMBER 2007 73



Journal of the Australian Water Association

piezometric surface at any distance x from the lowered water surface) accounted for the different hydraulic conductivities of sand and clay. Using the model described in Figure 7 the time-varying piezometric surface was calculated by determining the volume of wacer flowing into the river each day. lt was found char even if rhe weir pool level was lowered by several metres, it would cake several months ro observe any water table drawdown in che more salt affected areas of che wetland (Figure 8). H owever, if this process was repeated on a seasonal cycle it would potentially be successful in the long term at lowering the saline groundwater and replacing it with fresher flood waters. Regular flooding of banks is also necessary co promote the growth of you ng black box and red gums, helping co restore the vegetation and ecology of the wetland over the long term. A similar analysis was performed fo r artificial pumping of groundwater specifically ac the worse-affected 200 x 200 m area near PAR 3. To lower the water cable by 2-5 metres to minimise evaporative concentration would cosc between $ l 00,000 and $300,000. This would require a system of six submersible pumps pumping continuously ac 14 m3/hr. A more cost-effective solution would be to remove hyper saline water concentrated in the worst-affected region by pumping at a feasible race of 2.9 m3/ hr. This is likely co cost in excess of $50,000. T hese coses include che price of pumps and eleccricicy for a 10-year design life, ac an inceresc race of 6%, and do not include che coses of installi ng new wells chat would be required. A key problem with groundwater pumping is che issue of che disposal of che saline groundwater, which could possibly be solved by linking into che drainage network of a nearby salt incercepcion scheme, if one is developed in the furnre. Flooding sensitive areas of the wetland and ideally the encire area, coupled with implemencation of appropriately timed water cable drawdowns could effectively recreate the flooding and drying cycle once provided by the Murray prior co river regulation. Flooding small areas using unused water allocations donated by irrigacors is probably che most realistic way co achieve ch is in the short to medium term uncil the government and public realise char a more narnral flood ing regime is necessary. Effective use of unused irrigation water allocations will require coordination between commu nity groups and ecologists.




In this way solutions developed for Pari nga Island Wetland may be implemented ac similar wetlands, and the results used co gain greater understand ing of wetland responses co artificial flooding. Ideally, drying and inundation of the wetland should occur every three to fou r years. To achieve this without man ipulating the Murray weir pool level requires the installation of control strucrnres on creek inlets and the culverts under Causeway Road. It would also require either the use of a pump, or the permanenc installation of a 3 km pipeline co the downstream side of Lock 5 to drain the lagoon.

Conclusions It was found char the most severely degraded area of Paringa Island Wetland was near PAR 3. This degradation is due to high soil and groundwater salinity, and a shallow water table. At locations of greater depth to groundwater (i.e. the western part of che southern island), vegetation tended co be healthier, whereas sale coleranc species were more prevalenc where groundwater was close to the surface. The water balance and salt accumulation model indicates chat river water alone could not be the sole contributing so urce of the salt accumulating in the wetland. This was confirmed by results of ionic composition studies indicating that salt was primarily from regional aquifers, though diluted in some regions by the influx of river water. The most feasible remediation option is likely to involve installation of flow control structures on rhe creek inlets co the wetland, allowing controlled wetting and drying of the lagoon, in conjunction with a groundwater pumping scheme co lower the water cable, removing hyper sal ine groundwater from the tree root zone. Artificial flooding with river water could provide a short term solution to the problem of salinisacion, providing relief to stressed black box and red gum trees, and should be instigated on a regular basis even if ocher approaches are also pursued.

References Bennett, D. and George, R.J. (1996). River red gums (E. carnaldulensis) for form forestty on

saline and waterlogged land in south-western catchments of Western Australia. In: Proceedings of the 4th Nat ional Conference and Workshop on the Productive Use and Rehabilitation of Saline lands. Albany, WA. Promaco Convention, 345-358. Blanch, S. J., Walker, K. F. and Ganf, G. G . (2000). "Water regimes and lircoral plants in four weir pools of rhe River Murray."

Journal of the Australian Water Association

Australian Regulated Rivers: Research & Management, Vol. 16, 445-456. Bricout, J.K., Loi, Y.H. and Young, W. H .M. (2000}. The effects ofgroundwater depth and

salinity on River Murray floodplain vegetation. Student Project Report, Depr. of C ivil and Env. Eng., The Uni. of Adelaide. Doble, R. (2004). Quantifying spatial

distributions ofgroundwater discharge and salt assimilation on a semi-arid floodplain to determine vegetation health response. PhD Thesis, Flinders University, South Australia. Evans, W.R., Brown, C. and Kellett, J. ( 1990). "Geology and Groundwater." From The Murray (edited by Mackay, N. and Eastburn, D.}, Murray-Darling Basin Comm ission, Canberra, 1990. Jolly, l.D. , Walker, G.R. and Thorburn, P.J. ( 1993). "Salr accumulation in semi-arid floodp lain soils wirh implications for forest health. " Journal of Hydrology, Vol. 150, 589614. Jolly l.D., Walker G.R. and Jarwal S.D . (1996) .

Salt and wate,- movement in the Chowil!a floodpl{lin. CSJRO Water Resources Series: No. 15. Division ofWarer Resources, CSIRO, Australia. Lloyd , L. and Balla, S. (I 986). Wetlands and

Water Resources ofSouth Australia. Conservat ion Projects Branch, Dept. of Environmenr and Planning, Australia. McCune, B., and Mefford, M . J. (1999). "PCORD. Mulrivariare An alysis of Ecological Dara, Version 4", MjM Software Design, Glenden Beach, Oregon, USA. P ressey, R.L. (1986). Wetlands ofthe River Murray below lake Hume. River Murray Commission Environmental Report 86/1, Australia. Taylor, P.J. and Walker, G.R. (1996) . "Testing of a GIS model of Eucalypttts largiflorens health on a semiarid, saline floodplain." Environmental Management, Vol. 20, No. 4, 553-564. Thompson, M.B. ( 1986). River Murray

Wetlands, Their Characteristics, Significance and Management. S.A. Deparrment for Environmenr and Planning and rhe Nature Conservation Society South Aust ralia. Vader, L., Jolly, I.D and Walker, G.R. (1994) . "Groundwater Chem istry", CS/RO Division

of Water Resources Divisional Report 9416, CSIRO, Australia. Woessner, W.W. (2000). "Stream and Fluvial Plain Ground Water Interactions: Rescaling H ydrogeologic Thought". Ground Wam; Vol. 38, No. 3, 423-429. Wroblicky, G.J., Campana, M.E., Valen, H.M. and Dahm, C.N. (1998). "Seasonal variation in surface-subsurface warer exchange and lateral hyporheic area of two stream-aquifer systems." Water Resources Research, Vol. 34, No.3,317-328 .

The Authors Sarah Jewell now works fo r URS, Andrew Telfer for SA Water, Jarrah Muller for SKM, Matthew Thompson for United Water Incernational.

:!fereed paper

GROUNDWATER REFORM IN THE MURRAY-DARLING BASIN: POLICY WITHOUT ACTION J Nevill Summary Most Australian rivers (particularly in the tem perate south of the continent) interact with groundwater most of the time. Generally speaki ng, freshwater biologists and river managers underplay the huge significa nce of groundwater in maintaining the health of rivers, streams and wetlands, with the result th at groundwater policy and management does not get the scrutiny it deserves - and needs. Both surface waters and groundwaters withi n the Murray-Darling Basin have been grossly over-allocated for human use. Even now, reform is happening far too slowly. For the Basin's inhab itants, deeper crises lie ahead.

Australia is not short of good policy, but short on implementation. centuries, has persisted, partly through inertia within government agencies. Prior to the statutory reforms initiated by the CoAG water refo rm framework in the l 990s (see below), many Australian States managed groundwater and surface water through separate government agencies, an approach beset by rivalry and poor commun ication. The cumulative impacts of incremental development in the Murray-Darling Basin have increased in importance over the last

century as many of che Basin's aquatic ecosystems moved from general good health into crisis, and pressing problems of water quality and land degradation emerged. T he Basin's problems stem primarily from governance failures, exacerbated by declines in rainfall. Cli mate change predictions forecast further declines in rainfall combi ned with increased water losses from evaporation. Clearly there are no easy solutions. Soon after the Murray Darling Basin Com missi on was created (1988) there was a general recognition char serious environ mental problems related to water management required urgent attention, not

This paper focuses on the disjunct between the recognition of the cumulative impacts of incremental catchment development on the one hand , and extended delays in implementing management reforms on the other. T his paper ill ustrates the problem by exami ning the integrated management of groundwater and surface water - or more co rrectly the lack of integrated management. Important groundwater management policy reforms, agreed through the CoA G water reform framework in 1996, have not been implemented in any comprehensive way - after more than a decade. The paper concludes with some key recom mendations.

Basin Management

Juse as river waters have been over-used and poll uted in many parts of the world, so too have aqu ifers. The big difference is char aquifers are out of sight. The other major problem is that water management agencies, when calculating the 'sustainable yield' of aquifer and river water, have often counted the same water twice, once in the aquifer, and once in its connected river. This problem, although understood for

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This paper is a precised version of the full paper available on http://www. ~cnevill/ FW_MDB_groundwarerReform.doc.

Journal of the Australian Water Association


NOVEMBER 2007 75

technical features refereed paper

just in the Basin but in many areas of southern and eastern Australia. The over-allocation of the Basin 's waters, and the pressi ng environ mental problems of land degradation, water quality and decli n ing biodiversity values forced the Murray-Darling M inisterial Co uncil and the Commission to con front the concept of limiting catch ment developmen t. Although integrated catch ment management had, by this time, been the subject o f long-standing discussion, the Council chose only to cap water extraction from rivers. No controls were mooted on the development of irrigated land, harvesting of fl oodplain water, construction of levee banks and farm dams, d raining wetlands, clearance of native vegetation, or extraction o f grou ndwater all iss ues of immediate concern to catchments in water crisis. It should be said, however, th at all these issues were under discussion within State water agencies . The important point is that the Council and the Commission were moving slowly, well behind curren t science and community concern - in spite of the urgency of the issues .

to become known as the water reform fra m ework. The Framework had two central elements: economic reform to increase competition and efficiency within the industry, and environmental reform to increase emphasis on sustainable use of natural resources, and protection of environmental (especially biodiversity) values.

GL) are added to total groundwater entitlements (see below) rhey sum to around 14,000 GL/yr, still a lot m ore than the 13,000 GL/yr which would be the average nacural flow of the river with no abstractions. The waters of the Basin remain grossly over-allocated fo r human use, and th e Basin's environments continue to suffer.

The Framework was to evolve over the fo llowing decade. A letter from rhe Prime M inister to Scare Premiers and C hief Ministers on 10 February 1997 outlined an agreement on rhe part of the CoAG ministers to specifi c additions then referred to as rhe 1996 CoA G water reform framework - including agreements focused on groundwater:

Groundwater Reforms Stagnate

• to integrate groundwater and surface water resource management; • to d evelop a nationally consistent d efin ition and approach to calculating sustainable groundwater yield; • to prepare groundwater management p lans, policies and strategies; • to base gro undwater allocations on groundwater management plans;

T h e Council introduced an interim cap in 1995 and a permanent cap o n the d iversion of water from th e Basin's river system from 1 July 1997. The two primary objectives driving the d ecision to implement rhe Cap were:

• to ensure char such p lans included environmental water provisions in accordance with agreed principles; and

• to maintain and, where app ropriate, improve ex isting flow reg imes in the waterways of the Murray-Darling Basin to protect and enhance rhe riverine environment; and

Commitm ents at chis level should have p rompted rapid implementation action in a Commission committed to "rake a visionary approach, provide leadership, and be prepared to make d iffi cult decisions".

• to achieve sustainable consump tive use by developing and managing Basin water resources to meet ecological, commercial and social n eeds. The cap was defined as: "rhe vol ume of water char would h ave been diverted under 1993/94 levels of development." T he cap, as a result, fl uccuaces from year to year, depending mostly on climate. To implement and monitor the cap, rhe Basin was divided into 24 'valleys' or allocation units. Each valley is to have an accredited model, applied ann ually, to determine a valley cap for the year in question. In p ractice, rhe total cap varies above and below roughly 11 ,000 GL/yr (IAG 20 07).

Groundwater in the CoAG Water Reform Framework In the year p rior to the Ministerial Council's decision to establish a cap on river diversions t he Council of Australian Governm ents (CoAG) in February 1994 adopted "a strategic framework for th e reform of the Australian water industry" -

76 NOVEMBER 2007 Water

• to address and retrieve overallocation issues on a plan-by-pl an basis.

Implementation of the Cop While the cap on river water d iversions has been , overall , a limited success, full compliance with the cap has not yet been achieved. Implementation of rhe cap was dogged by a cavalier artirude on the part of State Govern ment water agencies to b oth proced ure and accoun tability, political influence on bestowing water allocations, and issues o f pervasive non-compliance (on the part of irrigato rs) with extraction licence conditions (see Queensland examples in Tan 2000) . All these factors have undermined effective managem ent of cumulative impacts across rhe nation. Over-allocations have been reduced during the last decade, however, the reductio ns have not been adequate to provide rhe environmental flows rhe river needs Qones et al. 2002). Total surface and groundwater usage fo r 2004/05 is still around 9,300 GL compared with rhe river's natural m edian flow of 11,300 GL/yr. If total surface water entitlements fo r 2004/05 (at about 11,000

Journal of the Australian Water Association

Two years after CoAG's groundwater reform policies h ad been accepted by all Australian Governments, the Council published their Floodplain wetlands management strategy. While 'Objective 3' of this document (water allocations) mentions river flows, mention of groundwater management plans, or groundwater environmental fl ows is entirely absent. C ullen et al. (200 0) in a review of CoAG reforms, noted "Generally there appears to be poor integratio n of the management of groundwater systems and surface water systems despite their acknowledged interconnected ness." Others ech oed these views : Nevill (2001 :84) in a major review of State and Co mmonwealth water policy, recommended the urgent implementation of integrated grou ndwater and surface water managem ent. In November 20 00, CoAG agreed to support a joint State/Commonwealth initiative, the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality. The Action Plan made a seven -year, $1.4 billion commitment to improving land and water management in 2 1 stressed catchments across the nation, working largely through 35 regional resou rce management (N RM) agencies set up under Commo nwealth gu idelines. W hile the action plan did reinforce the need for integrated man agement, the opportunity to reduce over-allocatio n was largely missed, in sp ire of rhe availability of funds to buy back entitlements. Importantly, rhe opportunity to extend rhe con cept o f co mprehensive water management caps was also m issed. The Action Plan resrricred its recommendations in chis regard : "caps [should ) be set fo r all surface and groundwater systems identified as over-allocated or approach ing full allocation." Firstly, this recommendation should have been extended to all moderately and heavily used catchments, not just th ose approaching full allocation. Inevitably, by the time a catchment is approaching fu ll allocation, many management options have already been closed. Secondly, the way the recommendatio n was subsequently interpreted by NRM agencies was restricted to flow caps rather than comprehensive caps

covering matters such as fa rm dams, levee banks, wetland draining, native vegetation clearance, and the development of intensive irrigation areas. Better guidance shou ld have been provided, not just by the Commonwealth. In 2001 the Council published their Integrated catchment management in the Murray-Darling Basin 2001 -2010. T his was a vehicle which should have emphasised the CoAG groundwater refo rms, yet mention of these important policies was agai n entirely absent. Coherent discussion of the pressing issue of environ mental flows was also entirely absen t. Notably absent too was any discussion of the difficult bur important issues of add ress ing over-allocation in both surface and groundwater, as well as caps on water related infrastructure and land develop ments. T his was not a vision ary document. The Wentworth Group {2003:8) in their majo r report Blueprint for a national water plan, called fo r the develop ment of comprehensive water accounts on a valley catchment basis; a "p ubli cly ava ilable set of water acco un ts fo r each river valley and groundwater system across Australia, so that all water users, the co mmunity and river managers can make informed decisions". Limits must be established: "If one use consumes more water, another must consume less" . T he Group were adamant that "there can be no double counting". T hey stressed that linkages between groundwater and surface water must be recognised and accounted for. Vision and Caution

In regard to natural resource management, the Commonwealth Government and all State and T erri tory Govern ments espoused a strong commi tmen t to the preca utionary approach in the early 1990s (through, fo r exam ple, the National strategy for ecologically sustainable development, the World Charter for Nature 1982, and later through the Rio Declaration 1992). Acco rding to the precautionary approach, where there is rhe poss ibility of significa nt harm, lack of scientific certainty shoul d nor prevent prudent action to avoid or mi tigate such harm. Th e possibility of serious damage to land, water and biodiversity values in the Basin had been clear for years or decades. Yet precaution appears conspicuously absent from the Commission's action program and from its corporate statement. At the State level, Coffey {200 I) fo und an absence of precaution in regard to the Queensland Government's water planning program, and it seems likely similar investigations would draw the same conclusion in other States. An obvious precautionary policy regarding integrated groundwater management wo uld be to assume, in the absence of a validated local model, a 1: 1 ratio between groundwater extraction and surface baseflow reduction in co nnected systems. T here appears to be no evidence that the Commission, or any Seate water agency, have even considered applying such a policy. Moreover, in full knowledge that many Basin groundwaters and surface waters were linked, the NSW State water agency has had a long track-record of issuing groundwater licences far in excess of demand. T he NSW agency was not alone. T hese actions are the reverse of precautionary. Over the Basin as a whole, groundwater entitlements now amount to 3250 GL/yr, compared with an estimated sustainable yield of only 2450 GL/yr. T o make matters worse, almost all minor groundwater users, and 60 - 80% of major users {across Australia) have not been required to merer their usage. Unmetered flows make accurate catchment water



Reed Constructions Australia Pty Ltd Level 3, 4 1 McLaren Street North Sydney NSW 2060 Ph: 02 9965 0399 Fax: 02 9955 8812 .au

technical features refereed paper

planning impossible, and foster a culture where co mpliance with licence conditions is seen as unimportant. It should also be noted that present assessments of groundwater sustainab le yield are substantially inaccurate: Evans et al. (2003) have suggested regular inaccuracies of around 25%, and th is estimate may itself err on the conservative side, given the complications in making such estimations (IAHA 2004) . Vision is obvious in che CoAG policy framework, and in independent reports such as Wentworth Group (2003), but where was the response of the Commission, or the State water management agencies to their long-standing CoAG commitments? In 2004, the Com mission published a report by che Groundwater Tech nical Reference Group (GT RG): Estimated impact ofgroundwater use on streamflow in the Murray-Darling Basin. According to the GTRG (2004: ES4) : • "Each jurisdiction has legislative and policy that allows for the integrated managemenc of surface water and groundwater, but implemencation of the in tegrated approach has not occurred codate. • The incended outcomes of the Cap on surface water diversions have been co mpromised as a result of the increased groundwater use since 1993/94. • The jurisdictions have identified technical and planning invesrigacions that will be undertaken and investigations that are needed to reduce uncertaincy, although the implemencacion plan for these inves~!gations has not been made clear. A lacer report by Land and Water Australia (LWA) stated: • Australia has no agreed method for assessing the sustainable yield of groundwater (LWA 2007: 13) . In other words, after nearly a decade, no effective action had been taken, either by the Commission or by State agencies to implement core CoAG policy (see the Prime Minister's letter refe renced above). T hese policy elemen ts are essential fo r the management of cumulative effects across the Basin, and fundamenta l to any management program aimed at sustainable use of groundwater. T his inaction was, evidently, not restricted to the Basin , but appears as a major failure across che whole of Australia.

Recent Developments

2004 The InterGovernmental Agreement on a National Water Initiative (NWI), signed 25

78 NOVEMBER 2007 Water

June 2004, listed "recognition of the connectivity between surface and groundwater resources, and connected systems managed as a single resource" as one of ten core NWI objectives, also recommending systems to integrate che acco unting of groundwater and surface water use where close interaction between groundwater aquifers and streamflow exist. T he National Water Commission (NWC) was created as a Commonwealth agency co oversee implementation of the NWL Its activities include oversighting water reform in the States (formerly the role of the National Competition Council - NCC) but it no lo nger has the ability to penalise the States for non -compliance by withdrawing Commonwealth support payments. Ics water reform audit activities also appear less formalised and probably less effective than those of its predecessor (the NCC). The NCC had in fact withdrawn the so-called 'tranche' paymencs on a small number of occasions, and had been outspoken in identifying some non-compliance issues - a source of irritation to the States. In late 2004 the Commonwealth Government (through the Natural Heritage Trust) funded Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM) to survey groundwater and surface water management in all Australian jurisdictions, with a view to recommending a national approach to integrated management. Their report, published in February 2006, proposed 10 core principles on wh ich a national framework for integrated management could rest (SKM 2006). The report recommended actions by the Commonwealth Government to develop the framework in consultation with the States, including actions to establish technical education and public awareness programs. This landmark report contained model water balances, and outlined key elements of integrated water plans.

2006 T he Natural Resource Managemenc Ministerial Council (NRMMC) on 24 November 2006. stated "States and Territories will report back to Ministers on progress of arrangements for the management of shared groundwater resources". Ministers noted that where water is being extracted from co nnected ground and surface water systems, water plans should reflect this connectivity". The same month a group of senior Australian hydrogeologists released a short statement titled National Groundwater Reform (Evans et al. 2006). Their call for better groundwater management reiterated (with a sense of urgency and frustration) many of the policy initiatives dormant over

Journal of the Australian Water Association

the previo us decade. Moving past policy, the group's statement of concern drew attention to serio us fundi ng shortfalls related to water infrastructure and data collection, technical and public education, and compliance programs. In brief, the group 's main points were: • Planning must identify sustainable levels of groundwater extractio n and Governmen ts must return over-allocated systems to sustai nable levels. • All groundwater use, except low-yielding domestic or stock bores, must be licensed and large users metered. • We must develop a co mpliance program to stop unauthorised use of groundwater. • AJl groundwater must be properly priced to pay for the ongoing resource assessment, monitoring and management and compliance program. • T here are opportunities fo r surface water to be scored in aquifers rather than surface storages which have such high evaporation losses. • Effective management of groundwater can't be achieved with the current organisational arrangements within Government. • Environmental water allocations must be managed by agencies char are nor the same agencies who allocate water. In December 2006, an Australian Government Senate Committee report drew attention to the failure of the Scares and the Commission to address over-allocation of groundwater in rhe Basin. In particular, the report quoted from the Commission's Water Audit Monitoring Report 2004/05: The escimated suscainable yield ... [of groundwater in] the Basin is reported co be 1534 GL/yr (V ictorian SY figures are not available) . Out of this, 2950 GL was already allocated in 2004/0 5, which constituted 192% of the sustainable yield. The meal usage of groundwater in the Basin was 1490 GL, which was 51 % of the allocation, and 97% of the sustainable yield" (SCRRAT 2006:4 1). G roundwater resources, which could have been reserved specifically as a drought buffer in a highly variable climate, have been spent - to che detriment of both human and non-human inhabitants of the Basin.

2007 In January 2007 the Co mmonwealch Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet published A National Plan for Water Security. The Plan proposed a $10 billion, 10-point plan "to improve water efficiency and address over-allocation of water in rural Australia." Of immediate interest, rhe Plan

refereed paper

included several points relevant ro our discussion: 4 . addressing once and for all water over-allocation in the M urray-Darling Basin; 5. a new set of governance arrangements for the Murray-Darl ing Basin; 6. a sustainable cap on surface and groundwater use in the Murray-Darl ing Basin; and I 0. completion of rhe restoration of the Great Artesian Basin.

Poi nt 4 repeated hisroric commitments made in a variety of forums, bur never effectively addressed. Point 5 sought ro "reconstitute the MDBC as a Commonweal ch Government agency reporti ng to a single minister. " The report pointed our: "che MDBC has known for several years chat the cap on diversions needs co be reduced and include grou ndwater ro be effective, bu t ch is has not been achieved." lm porcanrly, the report stressed the need for mandarory metering of licensed water usage (p. 8), and che need ro seal free-flowing artesian bores. While these are all commendab le goals, so roo are the earlier CoAG groundwater reforms, which remain roday as empty promises. Australia is nor short of good policy, but the nation is shore on politicians and bureaucrats willing to implement it. Commonwealth Groundwater Action Plan

In the lead-up to a Federal election, rhe Commonwealth Government announced a $52 million Groundwater Action Plan (Turnbull 2007a) . Fifty million dollars of rhe Plan's budget will be spenr largely on technical and scientific invescigarions. Only $2 mi ll ion will go cowards a capacity building program for groundwater managers - an issue highlighted in rhe recommendations of the 2006 draft framewo rk document (SKM 2006) discussed above. The Government's program is extremely disappoi nting. The level of expendirure is palrry compared ro the su ms necessary ro cackle the industry's problems. Two mill ion dollars will go nowhere in addressing capacity building - an urgent need. Well over $1 00 million is needed ro address the serious issues of metering and compliance highlighted by Evans et al. (2006) - and rhese urgent matters do not even fearu re in rhe information published on the plan. The plan does not appear ro progress key elements of rhe draft management framewo rk (SKM 2006), or address rhe major concerns of Evans et al.

(2006) . In particular, rhe pressing issue of addressing over-allocation ch rough buyback or co mpensation appears ro be entirely missing from the acrion plan. The difficult issues, and che need for adequate funding, have once again been avoided. The Commonwealth's Water Act 2007

Ac rhe Prime Minister's initiative in January 2007, rhe Com monwealth Government arrempred ro persuade Basin Scares ro refer their water management powers ro the Commonwealth, on rhe basis of a comprehensive Water Bill 2007. Unable ro persuade Victoria, the Commonwealth Government passed a much less comprehensive Bill in August 2007. The emasculated Water Act 2007 leaves rhe Commission incacr, bur creates a Co mmonwealth agency, the MurrayDarling Basin Authority, with the primary responsibi lity ro develop a Basin Plan. "The central elemenr of rhe Basin Plan will be rhe introduction of a sustainable and inregrared cap on grou ndwater and surface warer diversions" (Turnbull 2007). T he Commission will be obliged ro acr in accordance with che Basin Plan. "The Aurhoriry wi ll also be responsible for advising the Minister on the accred itation of state water resource plans for consistency and compliance with rhe Basin Plan" (Turnbull 2007). The Plan muse develop components addressing environmental watering, water quality and salinity management. T he failure of the Commonwealrh's negotiatio ns with Vicroria casts a heavy shadow over the new Authority. The new administrative arrangements once again seem likely ro resu lt in a narrow inrerprerarion of 'com prehensive and inregrared planning', and we may well see a perpetuation of the lack of vision, and the lack of caurion , which have dogged management of the Basin for rhe lasr 100 years.

Conclusion The fu ll implemencarion of CoAG groundwater co mmitments, long ignored, is now essen rial - if further environmental and economic damage is ro be avoided. le would appear chat chis will not happen under existing management arrangements and cultures, so these musr change. Political will and intelligence must be brought in ro play immediately. As a matcer of urgency, cumulative effects wirhin the warer resource industry musr be taken much more seriously. Catchment management programs must have five critical elements:

• rhe need ro manage cumu lative effects th rough rhe esrabl ishmenr of strategic development caps on a catchment basis muse be formally recognised in water resource legislation and in NRM planning processes, and appropriate procedures muse be established to sec and implement the caps in consultation with stakeholders;

• caps must be comprehensive and inclusive; stakeholder consultation programs must establish caps coveri ng: water extraction from both surface and groundwaters, the construction of farm dams (nu mber and volume), agricultural drains, imped iments to fish passage, and levee banks, the development of intensive irrigation and agroforestry, rhe clearance of deep- roared vegetation, and activities (e.g: stock access) capable of degrading riparian vegetation essential to the health of river ecosystems; • adaptive management principles musr be rigorously incorporated within catchment planning processes (noring rhese form a pan of Commonwealth NRM gu idelines); • rhe caps on development must be set well ahead ofthe point where the catchment enters a stressed or crisis situation; and • last bur nor lease, rhe caps musr be ser in a precautionary way. Plans to protect carchmenr ecosystems cannot be effective without adequate knowledge of the relative value and rhe current condition of rhese ecosystems. There is an urgent need ro develop comprehensive Scare inventories of inland aquatic ecosystems, incorpo rating borh value and condition data (Kingsford & Nevill 2006) as well as critical dependencies on grou nd and surface water flows. Such invenrories are slowly developi ng across Australia, bur could benefit greatly by the development of a national framework supported by Commonwealth fu nding.

Recommendations Recommendation l: The importance and inrracrable narure of rhe cumulative impacts of incremental warer-relaced development musr be recognised. Carchmenr management programs musr include all fi ve key principles ourlined above. Recommendation 2: Pressing practical issues, in implementing CoAG groundwater policy commitments, are to:

a. Develop carchment/aquifer management plans (or warer allocarion plans) which clearly demonstrate effective integration between ground and surface water management. Such plans muse use a realistic catchment/aquifer water balance to produce a water balance account, and

Journal of the Australian Water Association


NOVEMBER 2007 79

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use this accou nt in determining allocations in a p recaution ary way.

COAG is Principle 4 , which states (italics are the author's emphasis):

b. If groundwater is ro be used as a buffer against drought, it is vital that a reserve be left for this purpose, for examp le by aiming to allocate no more than 50% of the annual sustainable yield in 'average' years.

Tn systems where ch e re are existing users, provision of water for ecosystems should go as for as possible co meet the water regime necessary ro sustain che ecological values of aquatic ecosystems, whilst recognis ing the existing rights of oche r water users (ARMCANZ 1996).

c. D evelop integrated surface/groundwater plans which include a specific allo cat ion for environmental Aows (to protect identified values in related groundwater d ependent ecosystems) calculated and delivered in a way which meet agreed Commonwealth/State environment Aow principles (ARMCANZ 1996). Note chat these principles remain official CoAG policy, until rep laced by the c urrent review

A critical aspect affecting implementation of all these recommendations, is the routine use of independent peer review prior to final ising plans and associated allocatio ns. Ir is essential char the plans, their supporting information, as well as the peer reviews be available to all stakeholders and interested parties .


d . In line with recommendations in Evans et al. (2 006) env ironmental allocat ions should be determ ined by an age ncy separate from the agency immediately responsible for determining water allocations.

My thanks to Ray Evans for help in alerting m e to errors and o missions in the draft man uscript, and assistance with references, and to Jane Coram and Imogen Fullagar for helpful insights and additions.

Recommendation 3: Bearing in min d the difficulty of making decisions on water allocation which place farmer's li vel ihoods at risk (to say noth ing abou t political 'interference') groundwater managers should formalise a set of managem ent act ions that would be activated in the event of groundwater stocks falli ng below predetermi ned thresholds. These actions must be determ ined in advance.

The Author

'Target' and ' limit' reference points fo r groundwater levels are needed. A set of operational rules would then be required to regulate extractions, so char stocks remain at (or above) target levels m ost of the time, and never fall below limit reference points. These rules would specify actions to be taken if the target reference point was breached, and the limit point approach ed (Goesch 2007).

Jon Nevill is a policy analyst with a particular interest in aquatic issues H e was an invited keynote speaker at the Freshwater Protected Areas Conference in Sydney in 2004, and is co-editor of The Australian Freshwater Protected Area Resourcebook. Jon has worked on th ree major freshwater policy co n tracts for the Australian Government, as well as providing co nsu ltant input to the Australian State ofthe Environment Report. In 2007 he prepared support material for two Commonwealth Government workshops on freshwater policy issues. Prior to his work as a consultan t, Jon held senior positions in environment agencies in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Canb erra. Phone: 0 422 926 5 15; email

Factors affecting all recommendations


Ir is also important char integrated m anagement should be applied to all surface/aquifer systems, not just highly connected sys rems. As IAHA (2004 : 14) p ointed out: "le has been shown that even in discon nected systems, the use of one resource can affect the other".

ARMCANZ Agriculture and Resource Management Cou ncil of Austral ia and New Zealand (1996) National principles for the provision ofwater for ecosystems, Standing Com mircee on Agriculcure and Resource Management, Canberra. Coffey, F (200 I) 'Assessment of water resource plans under rhe Water Act 2000 (Queensland) with consideration of ecological outcomes and environmental flow objectives in rhe context of the precautionary principle and sustainable management', Environment and Planning Law journal, vol. 18, pp. 244-56. C ullen, P, Whittington, J & Fraser, G (2000)

Another challenge fo r management planning is to determine the relative priority of water users (including GDEs) in receiving allocations in a scena rio of 'permanent' reductions in rainfall - h ow d oes one compare the water needs of a high value agricultu ral enterprise with a scygofaunal community which may support fa una found nowhere else? Among the principles currently supported by

80 NOVEMBE R 2007 Water

Likely ecological outcomes of the COA G water reforms, C ooperative Research Centre for F reshwarer Ecology, C anberra. Evans, R, Richardson, S, Hillier, J, Bonte, M, Dyson, P, Ross, J & Middlemis, H (2003)

Journal of the Australian Water Association

Watermark: sustainable groundwater use within irrigation regions, Murray-Darling Basin Commission MD BC, Canberra. Evans, R., Evans, R. , Jolly, P. , Barnett, S., H arton., T, Merrick, N. and Si mmons, C. (2006) National Groundwater Reform, Sydney, November (www.ncgm National_GW_ Reform.pdf) . Goesch, T , H one, S & Gooday, P (2007)

Groundwater management: efficiency and sustainability, ABARE Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Canberra. GTRG Groundwater Technical Reference Group (2004) Estimated impact of

groundwater use on streamjlow in the Mu rray-Darling Basin, Murray-Darling Basi n Commission, Canberra. !AG Independent Aud ie G roup (2007) Review ofcap implementation 2005/06, MurrayDarling Basin Commission , Canberra. !AHA International Association of H ydrogeologiscs Australia (2004) Guiding

principles for sustainable groundwater management, Murray-Darling Basin Com mission in collaborat ion with Resource and Environmental Management SA, Canberra. Jones, G , Hillman , T , Kingsford, R, McMahon, T , Walker, K, Arthington , A, Whittington , J & Cartwright, S (2002)

Independent report ofthe Expert Reference Panel on Environmental Flows and Water Quality Requirements for the River Murray System, River Murray Project Board, Canberra. Kingsford, R & Nevill, J (2006) 'Urgen t need fo r a systemat ic expansion of freshwater prorecred areas in Australia: a scientists consensus statement', Pacific Conservation Biology, vol. 12, no. I, pp. 7- 14. LWA Land and Water Australia (2007) The

impact ofgroundwater use on Australia s rivers: exploring technical, management and policy challenges, LWA, Canberra. Nevill, J (2001) Freshwater biodiversity: protecting Australian freshwater ecosystems in the face ofinfrastructure development, Water

Research Foundation of Australia, Canberra. SCRRAT Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport (2006) Water policy initiatives: final report, Department of rhe Senate - Parliament House, Canberra. SK.M Sinclair Knight Merz (2006) Towards a

national framework for managing the impacts ofgroimdwater and surface water interaction in Australia, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Australia, Armadale Melbourne. Tan, P-L (2000) 'Conflict over water resources in Queensland: all eyes on the Lower Balonne', Environment and Planning Law Journal, vol. 17, pp. 545-68. Turn bull, ~ (2007) Water Bill 2007 - second reading speech. From hrrp://www.malcolmcurnbull .eom.a u/news/ Article.aspx?ID=898, accessed 2/9/07. Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists (2003) Blueprint for a national water plan, WWF Australia, Sydney.

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Water Journal November 2007  

Water Journal November 2007