Decentralised Water and Wastewater Treatment Knowledge Base - Final Report now available

September 19, 2016

Remote and regional communities face and present significant challenges for water supply and wastewater treatment. This includes high costs associated with diseconomies of scale, lack of available funds for renewals and upgrades, lack of available skilled operations staff and in-house capability. It is recognised that with these challenges the level of service (quality and supply reliability) is typically lower in remote and regional communities.

The dominant model of centralised water supply and wastewater treatment over the last 150 years has been challenged by an emerging view that decentralised solutions are increasingly viable through a mix of emerging technologies and more sophisticated risk management strategies. Existing decentralised treatment technologies have been used in a range of current settings, and for a variety of regional and remote applications, but also to support integrated water cycle management in urban settings.

Can these technologies and process options assist in achieving better outcomes in remote and regional locations?

Water utilities servicing remote and regional communities are often faced with a choice when a township with few connections experiences water quality issues and fails to comply with regulatory requirements, or when the township demands improved services. In some cases, the water supply for the town is deemed ‘non potable’, reducing the performance requirements on the water authority. In other cases, the preferred option is to extend a pipeline from an existing centralised treatment plant to the affected community.

However in many cases these strategies are not appropriate or viable. What are the current options (and emerging options) that are available for water authorities to provide solutions to remote and regional communities?

The aim of this project was to assist water authorities operating remote and regional supplies with the best information to evaluate the costs, benefits and risks of decentralised supply solutions.

A product of the 2013 request for proposals call, Project 1077-13 ‘Decentralised Treatment Solutions for Regional and Remote Water Supplies’, led by Dr Peter Sanciolo of VU includes case studies from GWM Water, TasWater, Coliban Water, Power and Water Corporation and Yarra Valley Water to develop a knowledge base of information on decentralised treatment solutions. The review assesses key variables such as: source water quality, available technology, operability, maintainability, cost, health risks for non-compliance, performance and reliability – with a  summary for easy comparison. 

A copy of the final report is found by logging in to the project page: http://www.waterra.com.au/project-details/178. Thanks also for the considerable inkind contributions from the Project Advisory Committee members in reviewing the deliverables along the way. 

Many of you will also recall the 2007 research report 55  "Point of Entry/Use treatment for Delivery of Potable Water" found here: ttp://www.waterra.com.au/publications/document-search/?download=84

Also see http://www.awa.asn.au/AWA_MBRR/Publications/Latest_News/Decentralised_wastewater_system_guide_released_for_utilities.aspx