Scientists at the Australian Water Quality Centre (AWQC) in South Australia have become the first in the Australian water industry to use internationally renowned DNA analysing equipment for more efficient and targeted water treatment.

Two new pieces of equipment – the ION Chef and the ION S5 – create DNA chips and unique barcodes for organisms found in water source samples, providing more detailed and reliable information than any water quality lab in Australia has previously used.

While similar technology is being used by hospitals across the country for cancer and genetics research, the AWQC is the first in Australia to adopt this technology for water quality management.

Using advanced robotic equipment, researchers are able to take a simple water sample and determine exactly what organisms, including vertebrates, native fish, and bacteria have been in contact with that water source.

The equipment is helping to detect good bacteria in samples from SA Water’s Glenelg and Christies Beach Wastewater Treatment Plants, which is used to enhance the treatment of sewage before it is recycled or goes out to sea.

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South Australian Minister for Water and the River Murray, Ian Hunter, said, “Knowing more about what’s in water sources enables better informed decisions on how to treat the water before it’s supplied to customers.

“There are already rigorous treatment processes in place at our plants across the state but this new technology allows a more targeted approach.

“This leading-edge technology is an example of why AWQC is winning business interstate, including two recent contracts the centre has won for ongoing work with water utilities in Tasmania and Victoria.” Mr Hunter said. 

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