Water Recycling Research Program

It all began with the “Millennium drought”, before which abundant clean water was taken for granted. Scarce rain in South East Queensland and across most of the densely populated regions across the country increased pressure on our water supplies and awareness of the value of water. In addition to conservation measures, a diversification of water supply options and the concept of providing water fit-for-purpose are being gradually implemented across the country.

In 2008 the AWMC established the Water Recycling Research Program to investigate the recovery of what constitutes the biggest part of wastewater (>99%), water. The AWMC assembled a multi-disciplinary team to provide scientifically sound, independent expertise towards the responsible closing of the water cycle, focusing on treatment technology, water quality and the management and fate of contaminants in engineered systems.

In 2010, the Water Recycling Research Program then extended the scope of its activities to other urban water sources such as drinking water and stormwater, continuing and extending its multidisciplinary approach and collaborations with other research entities such as the ‘National Centre for Environmental Toxicology (Entox)’ at The University of Queensland and the ‘Centre for Water Sensitive Cities’ at Monash University.

The Water Recycling Research Program is therefore researching water quality and advanced treatment across the majority of the urban water cycle as shown in the graph below.

Among the major research initiatives that the research program is involved in are:

A strategic 5 year collaboration between The University of Queensland, Veolia Water Australia and Seqwater with a total budget above $3 million to research advanced water treatment plants producing purified recycled water with regards to:

  • membrane fouling, ageing and integrity;
  • micropollutant monitoring and management (past project / current project);
  • strategies to control the formation and removal of chloramine disinfection by-products;
  • treatment of reverse osmosis concentrates;

Complementary funding to achieve the objectives was obtained from the Australian Research Council, the US based WateReuse Research Foundation, the South East Queensland Urban Water Security Research Alliance (UWSRA) and Queensland Health.Within projects funded directly through the South East Queensland UWSRA we research:

  • the contribution of hospitals to the overall micropollutant load in the urban water cycle through measurement and modelling;
  • treatment alternatives to membrane filtration such as ozone / biological activated carbon filtration;
  • emerging and regulated disinfection by-products in drinking water in the South East Queensland Water Grid.

The AWMC is also leading a project on risk and health aspects related to the quality of stormwater within the ‘Cities as Water Supply Catchments’ program, an initiative coordinated through Monash University and funded jointly by the National Water Commission, Victoria Smart Water Fund and more than 40 industry partners.

Researchers from the Water Recycling Research Program are furthermore involved in other research projects such as the NatVal project (funded by Australian Water Recycling Centre of Excellence) and other ARC projects (KDOM project lead by Prof. Beate Escher, Entox) in addition to delivering successfully consulting projects for e.g. the drinking water and the coal seam gas industry.

Water Recycling Research Program Team

The Water Recycling team at the 2011 AWMC Showcase and Networking Event, Customs House, Brisbane.