The internationally recognised Australian Water Quality Centre (AWQC) this week officially begins a three-year partnership with Yarra Valley Water for the supply of field sampling, laboratory testing, analysis and reporting services across a network which serves more than 1.9 million people in Melbourne’s northern and eastern suburbs.
AWQC is a commercial business unit of SA Water which is dedicated to working with its clients in Australia and around the world to maintain public health and offer cost-effective and environmentally-responsible solutions for the benefit of the communities receiving the water and wastewater services.
In the past four years, the lab has begun multi-year contracts with Tasmanian utility TasWater, Wannon Water in south-western Victoria and bulk water provider, Melbourne Water.
The Yarra Valley Water partnership creates five new positions at AWQC’s Melbourne lab and supports around 10 roles in its Adelaide facility, bringing its total workforce to around more than 130 people.
AWQC Senior Manager of Laboratory Services Karen Simpson said while the COVID-19 virus has meant some change for how both its Victorian and South Australian-based teams work, they’ve used it as an opportunity to further demonstrate their adaptability, agility and ongoing commitment to public health.
“Although some parts of our lives have essentially been on hold, people still needed access to safe, clean drinking water and a reliable sewer service, so we have continued to play our role in making sure these services are maintained for all the clients we serve,” Karen said.
“A laboratory is intrinsically one of the most hygienic locations to work in, but like all those in the water industry, we have adopted extra measures such as social distancing to ensure both our and the community’s health.
“This includes during preparation over the past few months for our new Yarra Valley Water contract, with the team gathering additional equipment and familiarising themselves with the location and operation of the utility’s water and wastewater systems.
“Our scientists provide a comprehensive service tailored to the needs of each of our clients, and it’s our specific water industry expertise that enables us to go beyond routine requirements and provide valuable advice and insight to help our partners solve specific challenges.
“Our Melbourne site is the base for the new contract with our Adelaide team supporting the work with various specialised services and technology. Managing labs in two separate states with two different and changing sets of travel and community restrictions means we’ve had to be quite flexible in the way we work, but we’ve risen to the challenge and are excited to now officially be working with Yarra Valley Water.
“As part of this work, we expect to be collecting more than 7000 water, wastewater and recycled water samples, as well as performing around 60,000 tests each year.”
Yarra Valley Water Managing Director Pat McCafferty said he looked forward to the two organisations working closely together.
“This is an exciting partnership that will help Yarra Valley Water to achieve great outcomes for the health and wellbeing of our customers and the environment.”
AWQC has been operating out of its Melbourne lab at the Royal Melbourne Hospital’s Centre for Medical Research for the past four years. In November, it will be relocating to bigger and more fit for purpose premises in Alphington, to support its continued growth in the Victorian marketplace.
“One of the reasons behind opening a lab in Melbourne in 2016 was to position ourselves to provide rapid and responsive sampling and testing to existing and prospective clients in Victoria who were wanting a locally-based service,” Karen said.
“We’ve continued to grow both in capabilities and people, with a team of 19 now working at our Melbourne site, including three interns-turned-employees, who we provided hands-on training to as part an industry program with the University of Melbourne.”
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