Research focus

Research focus

Our Research team undertakes a range of research projects, and in 2020-21 there were 76 active projects.

The research program has a broad scope, from customer perceptions of drinking water, to increasing water recycling, smart technology and improved land management.

We work closely with other water utilities and research organisations with the view to improving the services we provide to customers.

As part of our research in 2020-21, we looked at mathematical modelling for calcite dissolution and plume migration, as well as improving detection of cyanobacterial taste and odour production.

Mathematical modelling for calcite dissolution and plume migration


To better understand calcium dissolution impact and use an updated groundwater model to predict different scenarios to inform risk assessment and future planning.


The Aldinga Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) is used to store recycled water from Christies Beach Wastewater Treatment Plant. Benefits of storing recycled water include decreasing the volume of treated effluent discharged to the Gulf St Vincent in winter when irrigation demand is low, and supplying it for use in the warmer months when irrigation demand increases.

This increases the water available for vineyard irrigation and associated business growth in the Willunga Basin area while reducing dependence on local groundwater sources which have been over-used.

Injection of recycled water into the aquifer at Aldinga causes some degree of calcium dissolution due to the reactions between the injected water and the aquifer water. The impact and degree of dissolution caused by the Aldinga MAR is largely unknown.


This research project seeks to understand and address environmental risks associated with calcite dissolution for bore instability and aquifer weathering, and to predict scenario-based plume migration behaviour as a mitigation measure.

2020-21 achievements

Starting in March 2021, three final year undergraduate maths students from UniSA have worked on this project as part of the university’s Mathematics Clinic. The students have been coached by two UniSA academic staff and worked with our Wastewater and Environment team.

They have developed a software package to model calcium dissolution in aquifers and to explore potential mitigation measures.

This collaboration with UniSA is the only program of its kind in Australia, giving students hands-on experience with a large real world research project.

Work on this project will continue in 2021-22.

Improving detection of cyanobacterial taste and odour production


To determine if fluorescent dissolved organic matter (fDOM) used with algal detecting sensors can provide further information on cyanobacterial taste and odour production or cyanobacterial cell health.


Cyanobacteria and their associated metabolites remain a challenge for water utilities around the world. Our treatment plants deal with earthy and musty taste and odour compounds from our source water catchments due to cyanobacterial blooms.

Managing these compounds is critical to ensuring our customers receive drinking water that does not taste earthy or musty. We do this through multibarrier water treatment processes. Our current monitoring program, while extensive, can be limited in providing time sensitive results to water treatment plant operators who need to adjust the treatment response to the formation and decline of blooms.

Previous studies have established that the use of fluorescence sensors can provide near real-time monitoring for cyanobacterial cells. Preliminary studies have shown that fDOM can be a strong surrogate for dissolved organic compounds and potentially can be used for cyanobacterial-derived organic matter and cell activity, as well as taste and odour compound release.

If fluorescence sensors can be used as a surrogate for cyanobacterial-derived compounds, these measurements can be used by operators to rapidly make decisions about taste and odour treatment options, an improvement on traditional methods that can take at least 24 hours.

This research is being conducted by our Water Science team with support from treatment plant operators at Happy Valley and Myponga.


This research project seeks to determine if fluorescence can be used to monitor dissolved organic matter and, by extension, cyanobacterial-derived metabolites that can be linked to dissolved taste and odours, toxins, and cell health.

2020-21 achievements

The study has established a good correlation between fDOM and dissolved organic carbon.

The preliminary data has shown that fDOM measurements combined with other algal measurements can be potentially linked to dissolved taste and odour compounds. Further monitoring is required to validate these preliminary results.

The data generated from this project has resulted in the first working iteration of an algal dashboard for Happy Valley and Myponga reservoirs. This dashboard provides a clear, user-friendly display for algal and cyanobacterial-related information at the inlet of our drinking water treatment plants in near real-time which aids the management of cyanobacteria.

Work on this project will continue in 2021-22.

  • Major faults

  • Underway

  • Polkinghorns Rd
  • Arthurton
  • 18/06/2020
  • Water Supply On
  • 18/06/2020 03:05 PM - We are attending to an incident in Arthurton with no interruption to the water supply. The safety of our crews and customers comes first, and we always aim to minimise inconvenience by restoring services as quickly as we can. Reference Number WO: 07505663.
  • See all major faults

  • Scheduled works

  • Underway
  • Spruance Rd
  • Elizabeth East
  • 11/06/2021
  • Temporary Supply Interruption
  • Estimated start time and water supply off: 15/06/2021 09:00 AM
    Estimated restore time and water supply back on: 15/06/2021 04:00 PM

    We’re improving your services and undertaking maintenance work in Elizabeth East. Sometimes our crews need to temporarily interrupt the water supply to our customers and/or manage traffic while they are working. Temporary traffic management may remain in place until reinstatement of the impacted road is complete. We always aim to minimise inconvenience by restoring services as safely and quickly as we can.

  • See all scheduled works