• Project No 3047
  • Project Name SewAus Census 2021 – understanding chemical and biological hazards through analysis of wastewater and biosolids
  • Lead Organisation Water Research Australia
  • Research Lead University of Queensland
  • Completion Year 2025

Project Description

This project aims to better understand chemical and biological hazards in Australia through long-term collection and analysis of wastewater and biosolids. Samples collected during the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) Census 2021 will form the basis of a rich and unique databank that describes how communities are exposed to chemical and biological hazards, and how these chemicals/biological agents are released into the environment following wastewater treatment. The previous ARC-funded SewAus Census 2016 project (LP150100364), successfully established the first, globally unique nationwide program for wastewater-based monitoring of chemicals. SewAus Census 2016, demonstrated the utility of integrating wastewater-based monitoring with detailed, accurate data on the population that contributed to the sample from the Census. Demographic and socioeconomic data, such as age or occupation, were used to explain patterns of drug use and other chemical exposure in the population. A wide recognition of the value of this work forms the basis of this new proposal.

Together with existing and new stakeholders and end-users, a follow-up project has been developed to build on the outcomes of SewAus Census 2016 and address a new set of aims. This research has three overarching goals founded on:

  • Advancing sampling and analytical methodologies to expand the scope and reach of wastewater-based monitoring in Australia;
  • Measuring and understanding spatial and (long-term) temporal trends for chemical and biological hazards, and;
  • Improving quantitative understanding of the sources and fate of chemical and biological hazards released to the environment from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs).