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Research Programs

SA Water's Research Programs are informed by annual strategic planning, which identifies current risks, future knowledge gaps and opportunities.   

The challenges to the water industry and broader research landscape in Australia and globally are changing. In addition to the on-going challenges of water quality management, wastewater treatment and effective infrastructure and asset management, there is now a focus on alternative water sources, energy efficiency, desalination, and potential impacts of climate variability combined with the need for cost-effective delivery of water and wastewater services for future sustainable cities.

Program

Overview

Projects

Technical Aspects of Drinking Water Aesthetics

This program is aimed at providing research and analysis for options to improve aesthetic water quality in the Myponga and Happy Valley drinking water supply systems.

  • Stabilised Hydrogen Peroxide as an alternative to Copper Sulphate for the removal of cyanobacteria
  • Benthic cyanobacteria
  • Hypolimnetic oxygenation for reservoirs
Social Aspects of Drinking Water AestheticsThis program is aimed at increasing the understanding of customers' perceptions of drinking water quality aesthetics.
  • Aesthetics Improvement: social solutions
  • Take the Tap Test (TTT)
  • Assessing and understanding customer perceptions of water quality
Country Fit for PurposeThis program investigates appropriate technologies and solutions for regional, remote and rural communities drinking water supplies.
  • Engagement with the Water Research Australia Community of interest on Water Services for Regional, Rural and Remote Communities

Recycled Water Quality & Sustainability

These programs aimd to support the sustainable provision of recycled water to our customers that is consistently meeting their expectations.

  • Effect of recycled water on plant health
Drinking Water Public HealthThis research program seeks to advance the delivery of safe drinking water to our customers.
  • Disinfection By-product Formation from algae post chlorination
  • Smart Monitoring
  • Understanding Environmental E. coli
  • Benthic Cyanobacteria
Water SecurityThis program seeks to ensure continuity and consistency of supply. It considers novel approaches to assess resource availability and how the quality of those resources might be impacted by development, land use change, climate change and other risks.
  • Water Quality impacts of operating reservoirs at low water levels
  • Risk assessment of recreational access
  • Data driven decision-making under future climate uncertainty
  • Use of robustness metrics in decision-making under deep uncertainty
Environmental StewardshipThis program encompasses the research SA Water conducts and contributes to which reduces its impact on the environment, or the continued environmental and ecological status of its natural assets.
  • Establishing a seagrass habitat suitability model for the Adelaide metropolitan coast
  • Using aerial drones for monitoring of seagrass
  • Using satellite imagery to investigate drivers of seagrass recovery
  • Measuring and evaluating the impact of herbivores on our land
Compliance SolutionsThis research program considers what the challenges are to SA Water to be compliant within the current and future regulatory environment and what SA Water will need to do to remain compliant.
  • Understanding the influences of chlorination on the measurement of biological oxygen demand
 Emerging Contaminants

This program is aimed at identifying pollutant risks that could challenge the quality of SA Water's drinking water and recycled water products.

The outcomes of this program will be an increased understanding of the risks associated with a range of pollutants (including chemicals of concern, microplastics and antimicrobial resistance) for the customer and the environment.

  • Fate, behaviour and ecological impact of Polyfluorinated Alkylated Substances (PFAS) in waste water treatment plants
  • Fate and bioavailability of perfluorinated compounds in soils
  • Microplastic discharge and mitigation in effluents from waste water treatment plants
  • Study to determine the prevalence of antimicrobial resistance genes in South Australian wastewaters
  • Prevalence of antimicrobial resistance genes in biosolids
Sewer Networks This program aims to optimise operation of SA Water’s sewer networks to minimise impact on customers and the environment, and to reduce asset life cycle costs.
  • Management of sewer odour and corrosion through predictive control
  • Investigation of mitigation options for wastewater stormwater infiltration
  • Supporting development of smart sewer networks
Water ConservationThis program aims to investigate technologies and develop knowledge to reduce water consumption and loss through the water supply chain.
  • Assessing the impact of Adelaide’s reactive soils on pipe break risk
Automation, Smart Technologies & Big Data

These programs aim to ensure business efficiency is delivered using integrated live data systems, implementing automated mechanical or digital systems and optimising the management and use of our data to inform asset planning and decision making. Such systems will ensure that customers have relevant information readily available, and that disruptions are minimised using technologies for the early detection of leaks and the prevention of bursts.

  • Smart Water Network
  • Electronic Tongue for trihalomethanes in water
  • Future Cities CRC
  • Asset data library
Resource RecoveryThis program is aimed at providing opportunities to recover resources from SA Water processes including wastewater, recycled water, biosolids and waste products form drinking water.
  • Validation of storage age for biosolids
  • Reuse of drinking water treatment sludge in concrete pavers
  • Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme
EnergyThe aim of this program is to investigate initiatives to suport SA Water's current and future energy targets, particularly SA Water’s goal to achieve zero net energy costs by 2020.  As biogas generated from wastewater treatment will form a key component of SA Water’s future energy portfolio, research is targeted to optimise treatment processes for energy production.
  • Development of modified wastewater treatment chains to enhance biogas production
  • Optimisation of co-digestion for increased biogas production and quality
Process OptimisationThis research program supports the optimisation of existing operational processes to achieve efficiencies in the operation of water and wastewater treatment facilities, pipe networks, and field maintenance activities.
  • Development of a real time control system for monochloramine dosing using online water quality data
  • Development of online water quality parameters for operational decision-making
  • Use of surrogate treatment NOM targets for optimal drinking water network management
  • Optimisation of granular sludge to improve efficiency of sequencing batch reactors
  • Understanding nitrifiers to aid waste water treatment plant operation
  • Advanced aeration control in waste water treatment plants
  • Use of metagenomics to characterise the biome of anaerobic digesters
  • Development of pre-treatment for ultrafiltration/microfiltration management
  • Optimisation of wastewater networks with the energy spot market, while considering the impact on asset life cycle cost
Asset Management & Decision MakingTotex asset management considers both capital and operational expenditure in asset planning and decision-making. This research program seeks to address existing data gaps to allow best-practice application of Totex asset management.
  • Model development for optimisation of asset renewal and replacement  
  • Identification and trial of non-destructive tests for concrete assets to inform asset renewal/replacement