SA Water’s nation-leading efforts to monitor and detect COVID-19 in South Australia’s wastewater has been awarded a major prize at the Australian Water Association’s South Australian Water Awards, with the water utility taking home three major accolades for 2020.
Won together with Water Research Australia, the award for Excellence in Research and Development recognises SA Water’s efforts with SA Health in monitoring and identifying possible COVID-19 cases through analysing wastewater samples from eight wastewater treatment plants across metropolitan and regional South Australia.
SA Water’s General Manager of Customers, Strategy and Innovation Anna Jackson said the success further cements the utility as a leader in scientific research.
“The ability of our people to innovate and adapt our expertise of testing wastewater for other pathogens to also monitor for the genetic material of COVID-19 within just a matter of months – when this process typically takes years – is a significant feat,” Anna said.
“This surveillance method is now in use by health authorities in South Australia to provide an early method of detection for the virus, even before patients can display symptoms, and has also guided Victoria and other laboratories across Australia in offering training and advice.
“To be recognised by the water industry for a project that is just a few months old is a tremendous result for our team, and we are extremely proud of our ability to collaborate with Water Research Australia and other utilities and agencies on this world-first research protecting public health.”
SA Water’s Bolivar Wastewater Treatment Plant clarifier project, which upgraded eight secondary clarifier tanks to improve wastewater treatment and environmental performance, was recognised with the Infrastructure Project Innovation Award for metropolitan Adelaide.
The construction of South Australia’s newest wastewater treatment plant in Murray Bridge, which processes up to 4.5 million litres of sewage every day, was also recognised with the regional Infrastructure Project Innovation Award, together with lead contractor John Holland.
“Our DIY plumbing course run in the APY Lands in the state’s far north also received a high commendation in the hotly-contested Organisational Excellence category, while Water Systems Optimisation Engineer Dr Lisa Blinco was highly commended in the Young Water Professional of the Year Award,” Anna said.
“To achieve such a strong showing in almost every award category on the night is a clear demonstration of the capability and diversity of our people to deliver trusted water services for our customers across the state, and we’re extremely proud to see their work recognised for making a difference to the South Australian community.”
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