Water science

As legislation and community awareness surrounding water quality gather pace, the demand for comprehensive monitoring and testing systems has never been greater. Here, Peta Thiel, head of Research Laboratory Services discusses the benefits and importance of reliable filtration media testing.

With Australia undergoing a transformative period in water management, a Melbourne laboratory at the forefront of helping local authorities conform to increasingly stringent regulations stresses the growing importance of programmed filtration media testing.

Peta Thiel is the head of Research Laboratory Services, which provides filtration media testing for 20 Australian water authorities that have now switched over from traditional sandbased media to the much-heralded activated carbon technology.

Research laboratory services Director Peta Thiel analyses a sample of activated carbon media.

With her company one of the go-to’s in its area of expertise, she is in a unique position to provide some valuable insights into the way the industry is changing. “The past 15 years have seen a fundamental shift in the way water is filtered in treatment plants right throughout the country,” Ms Thiel said.

“We’re seeing that not only through the investment in technology but in the approach to testing itself. “The advantages of carbon – including removal of taste and odour compounds making it more palatable for consumers – are well known.

“However, with recent changes to federal drinking water guidelines regarding microbial health-based targets, the importance of reliable testing and analysis has never been more crucial regardless of the media being used – and that’s where we come in,” she said.

“While the rapid gravity filtration process in water treatment is typically the last barrier prior to disinfection, ensuring filter media is fit for purpose and maintained correctly through effective back washing has become widely recognised.

“By testing the filtration media and the water prior to and after filtration we can help reduce clogging leading to head loss, decrease microbial risk, and extend the life of the media – which can amount to significant cost savings for councils.

Similarly, in testing activated carbon media, we can ensure the adsorptive and biological processes are working within the filter to reduce chlorine demand, chemical costs and formation of disinfection by-products.” Ms Thiel said that while her firm worked at the cutting edge of testing new filtration systems, the vast majority of Australian water authorities still relied on sand media or a combination of both.

“It must be stressed that while we work closely with councils who’ve embraced the emerging technology, most of our work involves assisting those using more traditional filtration methods,” she said. “Over the past 20 years of consultation with authorities here and throughout New Zealand, we’ve developed a range of programmed testing procedures to help them keep up with legislation.

“Not only have the standards for removal of contaminants from drinking water been raised, we’ve also seen a wholesale change to the way that trade waste is treated – sometimes requiring on-site treatment prior to discharge to sewer.”

Ms Thiel said that by working with a comprehensive database from water treatment plants throughout Australia and New Zealand – embodying varying climatic conditions and raw water sources – Research Laboratory Services was able to offer reliable analysis and interpretation.

“We can also provide treatment options for emerging as well as existing contaminants of concern through desktop reviews and lab scale testing,” she said.

This sponsored editorial is brought to you by Research Laboratory Services. For further information, please visit www.researchlab.com.au

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