My main learnings from the AWA YWP 2017 regional conference - Steven Buck

I recently attended the AWA YWP 2017 Bright regional conference which was themed Flood, Fire and Drought - Managing Water in Extreme Conditions. The weekend conference included several presentations, case studies and site visits including:

  • Intelligent Water Network Asset Performance and Energy Optimisation Program - John Day, North East Water
  • Eight years of Fires, Drought and Floods at Bright - Investment in Water Security and Water Quality Improvements - Carl-Johan Rutgersson, Alister Laidlaw, North East Water
  • Design, Construction and Commissioning of the Freeburgh DAFF Water Treatment Plant - Jack Timmins, Laurie Curran Water
  • Celebrating the Resilience of Waterways -Terry McCormack, North East CMA
  • The Bakers Gully Dam Remediation - Sam Lalli, SMEC
  • Ecological Risk Assessment Informing Sensible Outcomes - Matthew Leach, North East Water 

The highlight of the conference for me came from North East Water John Day and his leading role in the Intelligent Water Networks’ (IWN) ‘Intelligent Water Network Asset Performance and Energy Optimisation’ Program. In this presentation John emphasised the need for the Victorian water sector to investigate and trail innovative technologies and practices to meet the rising challenges of population growth, ageing infrastructure and climate variability in a more efficient manner. A challenge brought to light is the energy intensive nature of the water industry and the imperative need for water utilities to consider smarter energy use and purchasing to reduce not only their environmental footprint but also the growing financial burden of energy use.  

John provided an example project from the IWN on the feasibility of taking small water and wastewater facilities off the grid, or significantly reducing their reliance and associated costs through supplementing with renewable power sources and storage. The project also tests how energy storage can be best manipulated to maximise renewable energy power usage, including off-peak top up of the battery system and sell-off of stored energy during peak demands. The project is being trialled in Yackandandah in north east Victoria, due to the town's relatively small consumption, location, and community support for renewable energy sources. The trial will feature solar and inline hydro connected to battery technology to power the town's water and wastewater treatment plants. The project was planned to begin in June 2016 with the trial fully underway by the end of 2016. The project provides an example of how the water sector is working towards the 2050 Victorian net zero greenhouse gas emissions target.  More information on Intelligent Water Networks can be found here.

- Steven Buck