Leading the way

Leading the way

To achieve our vision, we must be national and global leaders giving our customers confidence we are innovating to achieve outcomes for them. As a leader in South Australia, we support our local community and economy.

Leading reconciliation

Our stretch Reconciliation Action Plan 2017-20 (RAP) guides our reconciliation actions and in 2018-19, we achieved in a number of areas detailed below and in the following report items.

Working together with remote communities we have completed a project for wastewater reuse and greening of the Amata oval to AFL standard. Upgraded infrastructure at Watinuma has been commissioned, see APY Lands upgrades for a better life for details of these upgrades.

In September 2018, the innovation space in SA Water House was named Kurlanaintyerlo with the assistance of the Kaurna community, a Kaurna word meaning on the crest of a wave. The word and its meaning guided the design of the space which is an adaptable area suitable for a range of activities and aims to help us challenge the status quo.

In addition to SA Water House, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island flags are now installed at our offices in Port Lincoln and Crystal Brook.

Tia Tuckia, Warevilla and Yarilena homelands have been supported with community infrastructure matters throughout the year, including leak detection and fixes.

At the end of June 2019, 57 per cent of our RAP actions have been delivered.

Education and training opportunities in Aboriginal communities

Through education and training, we worked with communities and groups across South Australia including:

  • Facilitating 15 plumbing courses on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands with more than 40 students and community members learning plumbing basics to increase sustainability by fixing leaking taps.
  • An Aboriginal education program, which we deliver in partnership with KESAB environmental solutions, with a focus on teacher training for Anangu educators to enable community ownership and delivery of the program. The program is linked to curriculum and promotes the value of water and encourages sustainable use. This year we partnered with the South Australian Museum and took. Anangu students to local water holes to test water quality and build their understanding of safe drinking water. The program was also delivered to Aboriginal communities on the far west coast.
  • Involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders from within our business in the STEM Aboriginal student congress, which attracted more than 500 students from 140 schools. The congress engages Aboriginal students in years five to 10 through a range of interactive, challenging and culturally relevant experiences to encourage more Aboriginal students to choose STEM subjects in years 11 and 12. We provided a tour of the Kauwi Centre and Bush Tukka Garden at the Adelaide Desalination Plant, and delivered our Sustainability Challenge education program.
  • Partnering with Volunteering SA to deliver our twinning program which matches Aboriginal not-for-profit businesses with skilled people to work on short-term, high-impact projects.

Reconciliation Week 2019

During National Reconciliation Week, 27 May to 3 June 2019, we hosted nine events for our people across the state aligned to the theme: grounded in truth walk together with courage. Activities included Kaurna language sessions for people based in SA Water House helping to bring Aboriginal culture to the forefront of our work.

In Mount Gambier, newly installed paintings and signage were unveiled, giving the Blue Lake its traditional Boandik name: War War. War War means ‘the sound of many crows’ and reflects the crow Dreaming of the Boandik people, who are the Traditional Owners of the Mount Gambier region.

Recognising and acknowledging the lake’s name and story is a step towards revitalising culture and reforming the community’s connection with Country.

Dual naming, and use of local Aboriginal languages, including Kaurna lessons during National Reconciliation Week, aligns with 2019 being designated the UN Year of Indigenous Languages.

Connecting with communities through art

A 40 metre section of the above ground water pipeline near Port Lincoln was painted with an artwork we commissioned depicting the importance of water to the Barngarla people.

Several members of the Barngarla Aboriginal community worked with local school students in early 2019 to design and create the art, which was unveiled to the wider public during National Reconciliation Week.

The painting tells the story of the goordla gawoo ngaoowiridi – fresh water cycle. It shows the strong relationship Aboriginal people have to water and their connection to the sea, the animals and plants that rely on it, and how water was and continues to be used to sustain life.

At Beetaloo Reservoir in the state’s mid-north, an artwork by Nukunu artist Jessica Turner was  installed in September 2018.

Erected at the reservoir’s public lookout, the colourful artwork titled ‘Wobma’ details the cultural and spiritual relationship the Nukunu people have with land and water in the Spencer Gulf and southern Flinders Ranges.

Working together with the Burrandies Aboriginal Corporation, Boandik community artists and Elders, as well as several local school students in Mount Gambier, four panels were painted to tell the story of Craitbul, the giant Boandik ancestor. These floor to ceiling pieces are now on display inside the Blue Lake/War War pumping station.

Digital stories capture water wisdom

Working with the Barngarla people (Port Lincoln to the far west coast), the Kaurna people (Adelaide), and the Boandik people (Mount Gambier), we produced digital stories about Aboriginal innovation, management and treatment of water.

By capturing important insights and knowledge about how water was  used and managed by the first Australians, we can respectfully convey the understanding and practice of sustainable water management, and how it has shaped spiritual and living connection to Country and, importantly, how it can influence contemporary water management practices.

It is hoped Water Wisdom will build understanding and appreciation of the significant innovations and technologies developed and used by Aboriginal people for thousands of years. Documenting this knowledge ensures it can be made available to the wider community and future generations to keep culture and knowledge alive.

To keep the knowledge of Kaurna people alive, their knowledge about key water sites and resources on the Adelaide Plains is being gathered and captured to form a cultural water knowledge database on how water ways were used and managed.

Supporting Aboriginal businesses to grow

Continuing our efforts to support the growth of South Australian Aboriginal businesses, we brought 24 Aboriginal-owned businesses together with our tier one construction partners in October 2018.

At our inaugural Aboriginal Business Forum, everyone learned more about the challenges faced by major contractors and Aboriginal businesses, and had the opportunity to establish or foster effective working relationships.

This supported our commitment to reconciliation, by bringing people together, promoting equity and working to find the best outcomes possible for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through economic development and business opportunities.

In 2018-19, our direct spend with Aboriginal owned businesses was nearly $500,000 and the indirect spend was in excess of $3 million. Contributing to this has been the Aboriginal Business Forum, greater awareness among our people about Aboriginal businesses, and updates to procurement methodology and plans to support commitments in our Reconciliation Action Plan.

Getting smarter across the state

In 2018-19, the installation of advanced smart water network technology expanded to four targeted locations in metropolitan and regional areas of South Australia, building on the successful trial in the Adelaide CBD.

This technology enables us to identify and proactively fix a number of fault types before they affect our customers or inconvenience commuters.

As the smart network in the CBD continues to evolve, we are further refining its operation, including how to use the data to best effect in network management. With the CBD implementation bringing  benefits for our customers through network management improvements, the technology is now being expanded.

An analysis of our water network identified Athelstone, North Adelaide, Penneshaw and Port Lincoln as appropriate areas to extend our smart water network. The type of technology installed at each location differs, depending on the issue being addressed.

Athelstone has a relatively high rate of water main breaks due to some of the most reactive clay soils in Adelaide, coupled with high supply pressure as a result of the area’s topography.

To help combat this, we installed a pressure modulating control station, as well as sensors to monitor the pressure and sound activity within the network. Using data from the sensors we can use the control station to remotely measure and maintain a stable water pressure in the network at varying periods of demand through the day.

We have also installed several sensors along a large trunk main on Gorge Road in Athelstone to reduce the impact of breaks and leaks on commuters in this high traffic area.

In total, 35 pressure sensors (including15 transient loggers), 19 flow meters, 120 acoustic leak detection sensors and two water quality sensors were fitted across the four locations.

Penneshaw benefits from smart network expansion

In late 2018, people living in Penneshaw were our first residential customers to access smart technology en masse with the installation of about 300 smart water metres at residences and businesses in the Kangaroo Island township. Flow and pressure sensors were also placed at key points in the broader local network as part of our smart water network expansion.

As with customers participating in the smart water network trial in the Adelaide central business district, customers in Penneshaw are using these smart meters to monitor their water consumption through a secure, online portal.

The smart meters send water use information to the portal every hour with customers able to opt in to receive text message or email notifications about water use or inconsistencies, on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. This interconnected system has helped customers identify leaks and other faults in their plumbing which may have resulted in high water use, had it not been detected by the smart meter.

Smart meter data is also providing us with a holistic view of Penneshaw’s water needs. The two flow and pressure sensors have the ability to help identify any network water losses and inform our operational, planning and investment decisions.

The trial in Penneshaw will continue through to August 2019 and guide wider smart network investments.

Smart water network wins global prize

Our world-leading adoption of smart water network technology was recognised with a bronze prize at the International Water Association’s Project Innovation Awards held in Tokyo in September 2018.

The smart water network trial in Adelaide’s CBD edged out 160 entries from 45 countries in the Smart Systems and the Digital Water Economy category, cementing our position as an international leader in integrating digital and smart technologies for the benefit of customers.

The network, implemented in a $4 million trial, combines acoustic sensors, pressure and flow data, high speed transient pressure sensors, smart meters and water quality sensors to identify potential leaks and trigger intervention before leaks or breaks escalate to inconvenience customers or commuters.

Smart sewers

Stonyfell and Gawler are the two locations in our $5 million trial of advanced smart sewer technology, which aims to reduce the incidence and impact of sewerage network faults and issues for our customers and the wider community.

In Stonyfell, our focus is on detecting sewer pipe blockages to prevent overflows either inside or outside homes, which occur in the Adelaide foothills suburb at a higher than average rate than other areas.

The smart technology complements existing ongoing sewer maintenance programs by enabling a more targeted approach. We are one of the first Australian water utilities to use the technology in a comprehensive whole of suburb approach.

The sewer system in Stonyfell has been fitted with flow and level sensors, which monitor the movement of sewage in the pipes. This gives us near-real time information on where a blockage is, making it easier to despatch our crews to fix it, well before it affects our customers.

In Gawler, we have installed odour detection sensors and weather stations to better understand the behaviour of odour in this part of the network and how we can better manage the issue over time.

In total for the wastewater network, there are 88 level sensors, 88 odour detection sensors and 11 weather stations.

The combination of technology across both our water and wastewater networks, a world-leading analytics platform and the expertise of our smart network team is giving us a more detailed view of our underground systems than ever before, and helping us continually improve.

This trial was named the Best Industrial Internet of Things Project at the 2019 Internet of Things Awards, acknowledging our pioneering work in the rapidly evolving field of smart networks.

Woolpunda takes out top gong in state water taste test

Water produced from Woolpunda Water Treatment Plant was awarded best tasting tap water in South Australia at the Water Industry Operators Association of Australia annual competition in August 2018.

Woolpunda was one of 14 samples from across the state judged by a panel of water industry experts and interested members.

The competition showcases South Australia’s drinking water, acknowledging the somewhat unsung work of water operators, and getting people talking about tap water.

Growing innovation

Improving, refining and innovating are helping us lead the way in the water industry.

In 2018-19, our Innovation Speaker Series continued to expose us to fresh ideas and approaches, with presentations from Queensland Urban Utilities, the University of Adelaide and Uber.

People from all areas of the business also came together to develop a framework for growing our people’s ideas. Since forming in September 2018, the group has continued to uncover insights into how we create a cultural change to encourage and spread innovation.

The innovation team continued to connect and collaborate across the business on a number of projects including:

  • our zero cost energy future
  • reimagining water and wastewater master planning
  • asset management
  • odour approach
  • work zone traffic management
  • liveability
  • integrated utility
  • agile working.

A case study of our recent innovation journey was presented to industry peers at Ozwater’19, the national water industry’s annual conference.

Creating a zero cost energy future

The idea to create a zero cost energy future was conceived and shaped by our people and is a demonstration of how we are leading the way to integrate renewable energy and storage with the nation’s longest water network.

Installation of solar panels was completed at three of our Adelaide metropolitan sites: Hope Valley Water Treatment Plant, Christies Beach Wastewater Treatment Plant and Glenelg Wastewater Treatment Plant.

At Hope Valley, the system achieved savings on electricity costs of 61 per cent in June 2019, down from an average of $21,000 to $8,000.

In February 2019 we appointed Enerven as the contractor to deliver our $304 million investment in solar photovoltaic panels and energy storage. This project will see the installation of 154 megawatts of solar generation and 34 megawatt hours of storage across up to 70 of our sites.

With an energy bill of $83 million in 2018-19, this investment in more than 500,000 solar panels is expected to deliver a return in six years with the view to reducing our costs and keeping water service charges as low and stable as possible over time for our customers.

Construction work will support about 250 jobs, and includes a commitment to engage local Aboriginal-owned businesses evaluated on their competitive rates, as well as apprentice training and opportunities for the supply chain within South Australia.

Remote boats improve sludge management

Two remote-controlled boats are navigating the lagoons of our wastewater treatment plants in a novel and efficient new way to improve sludge management and minimise odour at facilities across the state.

Developed by the University of Western Australia, vessels use sonar navigation technology to remotely survey sludge build-up at the bottom of wastewater lagoons.

Fine sediment that remains suspended in the water after primary treatment stages settles at the bottom of wastewater polishing lagoons to form a sludge, which is then periodically removed to maintain the lagoons’ holding capacity and minimise the potential for odour to develop.

A sonar unit scans the bottom of the lagoon and records data to an SD memory card that is then overlaid with a Google Earth map to visually display the sludge depths.

Removing sludge is an important yet often time consuming exercise, and this new technology provides a highly efficient way to accurately survey and know when to de-sludge.

Biosolid breakthrough a boost for farmers

A study undertaken by our Water Expertise and Research team into high-quality organic biosolids this year confirmed a faster timeframe to eliminate pathogens, realising significant benefits to the agriculture and water industries in Australia.

Each year we collect and safely treat about 30,000 tonnes of organic biosolids from our wastewater treatment plants, and we provide it free to primary producers who use it to improve soil quality for crops such as cereals, citrus or vines.

Our research challenged the guidelines to store high-grade biosolids for three years to ensure all pathogenic microorganisms were inactive before delivering the final product. The project demonstrated a better quality biosolid product can be achieved in just one year.

Following an intensive monitoring program for both fresh and aged biosolids of up to 30 months, we

detected no additional improvement in the guideline requirements of biosolids tested by extending the stockpiling period beyond 12 months.

This is a significant outcome for both farmers and water utilities across the country, with the potential to reduce costs for on-site storage and deliver a better quality biosolid product to primary producers.

Greenhouse gas reductions inform global guidelines

Our world-leading climate change research has successfully demonstrated an ability to monitor and reduce nitrous oxide emissions by 30 per cent from Bolivar Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Setting a benchmark for treatment plants around the world, the research has also informed the United Nations’ greenhouse gas guidelines.

Trialled in partnership with the University of Queensland, the ground-breaking research collected and modelled nitrous oxide through floating ‘hoods’ anchored along activated sludge plants and pipes through a computer monitoring system, which then analysed the gas in short intervals.

The technology was created using the engineering resources and more than 20 years’ expertise of our commercial business unit Water Engineering Technologies, which designs and manufactures customised solutions for water and wastewater utilities across Australia.

The technology developed by the team allows emissions of the gas to be monitored in real time, for the very first time.

The research has been scientifically validated and published in four academic publications, putting us at the forefront of addressing a major problem commonly facing wastewater treatment across the world.

With nitrous oxide having a global warming potential 310 times greater than carbon dioxide, it is vitally important that all utilities work to reduce emissions in their operations without compromising on plant performance.

Cooling the community

Riders and spectators at this year’s Tour Down Under could escape the extreme hot weather and keep cool thanks to unique new ’cool zones’ we created in partnership with race organisers.

Throughout this major event, hundreds of water misting jets provided refreshing blasts of cool air to people visiting the City of Adelaide Tour Village in Victoria Square/Tarntanyangga, and helped them manage the warm conditions experienced during the race.

Following the successful use of misters at the corporate hospitality facility for the Down Under Classic and Women’s Tour Down Under, they were installed at the Tour Village for everyone to enjoy.

Using water in different ways can increase the use of spaces and liveability during our hot summers and is an important way we are working to create a better life for South Australians.

The ‘cool zones’ proved popular and followed trials looking at ways to keep suburban houses and gardens cool, as well as our world-first heat mitigation trial at Adelaide Airport.

A similar misting system was installed at TreeClimb in the Adelaide Park Lands, to help keep aerial adventurers cool over the busy summer school holiday period.

Growth in laboratory services

In 2018-19, the Australian Water Quality Centre (AWQC), our national laboratory service, positioned itself to better meet the current and future needs of water utilities seeking its services. This included building understanding of the national water industry and its needs, and research to inform and shape service development for AWQC laboratories in Adelaide and Melbourne.

Molecular testing services were expanded in the Adelaide laboratory, while the Melbourne laboratory increased its capabilities to include sampling and a wider range of chemical testing services. To support growth in the Melbourne laboratory, new premises were identified ahead of a move planned for early 2020.

The AWQC continued to actively support the national water industry through conference exhibitions, sponsorships and presentations.

At the 2018 Water Industry Alliance Smart Water Awards, the AWQC was recognised for its world-leading molecular services winning the Innovation in Large Organisations Award. The paper by the AWQC’s Method Development Coordinator was shortlisted for best paper at Ozwater’19.

In 2018-19, the AWQC actively participated in a number of national water industry conferences including Water Industry Operators Association of Australia, Australian Water Association state conferences in South Australia, Northern Territory and Tasmania, and Ozwater’19.