The Australian Government will provide $3 million in funding through the Cooperative Research Centres Project stream to provide research and innovation into Smart Lining for Pipes.

The Australian urban water industry welcomed the announcement.

Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA), Executive Director, Adam Lovell, said “Water utilities around the world manage water and sewerage infrastructure to provide the most essential of the essential services.

“In Australia we have over 260,000km of water and sewerage pipes – enough to go around the earth more than six times. Around 70 per cent of it is underground and often forgotten – until there is a pipe burst under a major road. The inconvenience it creates is a growing issue in our busy cities and towns, but replacing kilometres of pipes is a very costly exercise.

“Many water and sewer pipes in our cities and towns are approaching the end of their life and to completely replace them can cost thousands of dollars per metre. Water utilities can potentially keep customer bills down by using new materials or new smart robotics and sensors in repairing pipes instead of replacing them.”

The project will see collaboration across the globe with 31 project partners focusing on new materials and technologies to increase the lifespan of these assets.

“We are especially pleased to be working with an extensive range of national and international partners, including SMEs. This will keep customer bills down and reduce the ‘inconvenience’ cost to the community,” Mr Lovell said.

With limited budgets for asset replacements, the global water industry is required to do more with less; it needs to be more innovative to develop products to extend infrastructure “end of life”.

The global market opportunity for smart lining products is significant, estimated at more than $60 billion over the next ten years, assuming linings defer ten per cent of pipe renewals.

Australia represents five per cent of this market so expanding market opportunities for Australian SMEs offers huge potential.

The project is valued at a total of over $24 million and will strategically position Australia as a global leader in smart water infrastructure design, engineering, testing and management.

Three Australian Universities including Monash, UTS and Sydney University will provide the research and work in collaboration with the lining industry partners to improve specifications, standards, products and services.

“Sydney Water has almost 50,000km of wastewater and water pipes in our network and this project will help to prolong the life of these assets, which will help to deliver an even more reliable water and wastewater service, and lessen future customer disruption through reduced repairs and replacements”, Sydney Water, Manager Networks, Mr Gary Hurley said.  

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