Veolia funding recycled-water research in Queensland

Unitywater, a water distributor/retailer in Queensland, Australia, is working with researchers from the University of Queensland's Advanced Water Management Centre (AWMC) and Veolia Water to investigate new methods of purifying treated wastewater at its Caboolture Sewage Treatment Plant (STP).

The project is being undertaken at purpose-built facilities at the STP and is being funded by Veolia Water Australia, Seqwater and the University of Queensland.

The first stage involved an assessment of effluents produced by different wastewater treatment technologies, while the second will evaluate the performance of the membrane filtration systems and assess the impact of the feedwater quality.

The aim is to identify the conditions which produce the most cost-effective, continuous, reliable production of high quality recycled water.

Unitywater CEO Jon Black said this was the latest collaboration with the AWMC, which had already undertaken a number of studies at the Caboolture STP. He added that Unitywater was committed to investigating, trialling and adopting sustainable technologies and being actively involved in cutting-edge industry research.

"Our customers are living in one of the fastest growing areas in the nation and we must ensure residents in the Moreton Bay and Sunshine Coast regions will continue to have access to safe, reliable, high quality water supplies," he said. "We need to embrace environmentally-friendly practices and the increased use of recycled water is essential to our future water security."

Lead researcher Dr Marc Pidou said their work at the plant commenced in March 2011 and the project was scheduled for completion in December 2011. He revealed that results to date had confirmed the high quality water produced by the reverse-osmosis (RO) system.

"The trials we carried out on a previous site and now at the Caboolture plant have clearly demonstrated the stability of RO membranes and their ability, independently of the feedwater quality, to produce high quality water suitable for a wide range of reuse applications," he said. "We are now challenging the system to evaluate the impact of the feed water quality on the operation to determine optimum conditions."

Yvan Poussade, R&D manager of Veolia Water Australia, said the company had agreed to fund the project because continuous improvement, innovation and development of sustainable technologies were core to Veolia Water's business.

"We are designing, building and operating very advanced, state-of-the-art water recycling facilities around the world, including in South East Queensland, delivering fit-for-purpose water in places where climate change, industrialisation and urban growth has put increasing pressure on water supply quality and quantity," he said. "We take a long-term perspective to R&D and we are always looking to drive change for a better future."

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