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Sydney Water Annual Report 2009
Statutory information: Research
 
 
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In this section:

 

 
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Overview

Sydney Water invested $4.96 million in 37 research and development projects in 2008–09. About $905,000 of this was used in partnering five key national and international research alliances. An additional $700,000 is also committed each year through arrangements with the Build-Own-Operate (BOO) water filtration plant partners for research activities focused mainly on drinking water quality.

The key drivers of Sydney Water’s research program are:

  • maintaining safe, high quality drinking water
  • improving the understanding and predictability of long-term asset performance
  • understanding and responding to the challenges of climate change and investigating improved energy efficiency
  • improving environmental performance
  • understanding issues related to the water supply and demand balance
  • successfully implementing recycled water schemes.

Major projects (>$100,000) concluded during 2008–09

The impact of endocrine disrupting compounds in receiving waters on aquatic life

Sydney Water looked at whether treated wastewater from its inland sewage treatment plants has the potential to disrupt the endocrine systems of aquatic life. The group of compounds that can cause these impacts are usually referred to as endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) and they can come from many sources including catchment runoff. Sydney Water measured low EDC levels and confirmed, through biological tests on fish, that potential EDC impacts were much lower than those at river sites upstream of treated wastewater discharge points.

Epoxy linings to protect sewer concrete: scientific assessment

Epoxy linings have been used to protect sewers against corrosion since the early 1990s. Sydney Water found likely chemical and biological factors that contribute to the failure of epoxy linings. Procedures have been developed to improve the monitoring of sewer linings. This supports Sydney Water’s infrastructure and asset management program.

Assessment of accelerated degradation of stormwater assets under tidal conditions

Climate change will lead to rising sea levels and tides will reach further along stormwater channels. Increased exposure to the salt in seawater can lead to accelerated corrosion of the concrete channels. Sydney Water examined its stormwater assets experiencing tidal flows to assess the likely effect on asset life and maintenance. The potential rise in sea levels by 2100 is likely to increase the deterioration of low lying stormwater assets and increase the severity of the corrosion exposure. Findings are being incorporated into asset management approaches and costings.

Optimisation of cell culture for Cryptosporidium

Sydney Water continues to seek improved methods of finding levels of Cryptosporidium that could impact on public health. A laboratory method was developed to assess the ability of Cryptosporidium to infect human cells. This method gained National Testing Authority accreditation and will help in assessing the health risk posed by any Cryptosporidium detected in the water supply.

Evaluating the impact of recycled water in washing machines

Sydney Water evaluated the use, acceptability and performance of recycled water in washing machines. It looked at the survival of pathogenic micro-organisms and whether recycled water would damage machines or clothing. The project showed that recycled water has no adverse effect on clothing or on the washing machine. The micro-organisms did not survive the washing process.

Developing methods for identifying water quality indicator bacteria

The presence of certain bacteria in drinking and raw dam water can indicate potential faecal contamination. Sydney Water developed an improved laboratory method to confirm the presence of Enterococci and Clostridium perfringens, in water samples. These organisms serve as contamination indicators.

Ongoing major projects (over $100,000)

Impacts of climate variability and change on rainfall extremes in western Sydney and surrounding areas

Sydney Metropolitan Catchment Management Authority is leading this project, which involves Sydney Water, a group of NSW Government agencies and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). The research looks at rainfall intensity and how often and for how long rain will fall under future climate scenarios. Research is still ongoing. Sydney Water is partly funding the research and has a staff member on the project steering committee.

Metropolitan Water Plan climate change study – Impacts of climate change on Sydney’s water supply and demand

Sydney Water and a group of NSW Government agencies, led by the NSW Office of Water, are working with the University of NSW and CSIRO. The consortium is developing modelling tools to evaluate the likely impacts of climate change on future water supply and customer water demands in Sydney region. Sydney Water modelled water demand as part of the research. This work will play an important role in future water resource planning for the greater metropolitan region. Sydney Water is partly funding the research and has a staff member on the project steering committee.

Optimal management of corrosion and odour problems

Sydney Water is working with university and industry partners across Australia to develop national standards for cost-effective methods to manage and minimise concrete corrosion and odour emission from sewers. The work is part of an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant. This is a five-year, $19 million, national program involving water utilities from NSW, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia.

Water filtration plants: BOO research and development

Sydney Water has built research partnerships with Degremont, Veolia and United Utilities to support its ongoing research and development program. The program includes studies on the effects of water treatment on the release of taste and odour compounds from algal cells.

Leak monitoring and reporting assessment

Sydney Water is changing its approach to storing water main leak data and better using the information. This will improve the management and reporting of leaks in the system.

Smart metering residential study

Through two major studies, including one with Energy Australia, Sydney Water is examining the potential use of smart meters to better find leaks and reduce residential water use. The smart meters actively engage customers and give real time data on in-house water use.

Strategy to reduce odour emissions in biosolids from North Head Sewage Treatment Plant

Sydney Water is improving its understanding of the key factors that create biosolids odour. This will lead to improvements in the management of biosolids and reduce odours at North Head Sewage Treatment Plant. The outcomes of the research will have benefits across all of Sydney Water’s operational area.

BASIX study

BASIX is the NSW Government’s planning tool designed to make newly built homes both energy and water efficient. In the case of water, new homes must be 40% more efficient than homes built before BASIX was introduced in 2004. Together with the Department of Planning, Sydney Water is evaluating the constraints that could have an adverse impact on the water saving potential of BASIX. This is being done through a combination of surveys and monitoring homes built under BASIX.

Value of the research and development portfolio
in the financial year

Major alliance and collaborative research investment

Research partner

Area of focus

Investment
2008–09

Water Research Foundation (formerly the American Water Works Association Research Foundation)

Drinking water quality and public health, asset management practices

$128,000

Water Environment Research Foundation

Water quality research and innovative technologies to improve the water environment

$2,318

Water Services Association of Australia

Water quality, public health, sustainable water supplies and climate change

$243,000

Water Filtration Plants: BOO research and development*

Water quality and public health, treatment technologies

*$35,326

Water Services Association of Australia Asset Management Improvement Program

Treatment and infrastructure management

$105,423

Water Quality Research Australia

Water quality and public health

$390,488

Total alliance and collaborative subscriptions

 

$904,555

*Excludes funding from BOO partners

Projects undertaken (>$100,000)

Project title (completed)

Investment to 30 June 09

Investment to 30 June 08

Final investment

The impact of endocrine disrupting compounds in receiving waters on aquatic biota

$0

$136,237

$200,000

Epoxy linings to protect sewer concrete: scientific assessment

$28,552

$173,094

$201,646

Assessment of accelerated degradation of stormwater assets under tidal conditions

$15,734

$114,223

$129,957

Optimisation of cell culture for Cryptosporidium

$0

$338,540

$338,540

Evaluating the impact of recycled water in washing machines

$0

$0

$103,855

Developing methods for identifying water quality indicator bacteria

$10,110

$116,578

$126,688

 

Six research and development projects were undertaken and completed in 2008–09. They were all delivered on time and on budget.

Ongoing projects (>$100,000)

Project title (ongoing)

Investment to 30 June 09

Investment to 30 June 08

Estimated investment

Impacts of climate variability and change on rainfall extremes in western Sydney and surrounding areas

$0

$136,237

$200,000

Impacts of climate change on Sydney’s water supply and demand (Metropolitan Water Plan climate change study)

$0

$154,006

$266,000

Optimal management of corrosion and odour problems

$336,214

$100,888

$2,750,000

Water Filtration Plants: BOO research and development

$140,237

$126,237

$300,000

Leak monitoring and reporting assessment

$124,986

$50,439

$144,820

Smart metering residential study

$626,000

$5,000

$415,000

Strategy to reduce odour emissions in biosolids from North Head Sewage Treatment Plant

$123,634

$0

$155,000

BASIX study

$175,001

$0

$250,000