W-Lab is a technology program, created in partnership with the Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA), Isle Utilities and ThinkPlace, to identify the key challenges and to unite the local water industry in strategic problem solving.
A W-Lab Roadmap was originally created in 2020 to present solutions to the local water industry, using innovative technologies. This roadmap was revitalised and renewed in 2022 by W-Lab members, following an Ideation Summit.
Senior Innovation Manager at Isle Utilities Asia Pacific, Dr Kelly Hill, said, “although a Roadmap has been created in a collaborative exercise by members, W-Lab is much more than a plan – real outcomes are being achieved.
“A number of local water utilities in Australia and New Zealand have or are currently undertaking collaborative trials of technologies sourced through Isle Utilities’ global reach.”
W-Lab Collaborative Trials
Hydraloop is an in-house water recycling system that collects and treats greywater for reuse within the home, which is being trialled by Sydney Water’s Research and Innovation team as a part of its Water Conservation program.
The key advantage of the Hydraloop technology is the reduction in water usage, with expected water usage in a household reduced by around 35 per cent, which is a similar amount achieved with the installation of a rainwater tank.
The Hydraloop technology was first featured in the W-Lab Flows Showcase in November 2020.
Service Planning Lead at Sydney Water, Andre Boerema, said, “the main opportunity in Sydney is to provide an alternative to the rainwater tank market. Sydney Water is looking for evolutionary step changes in the rainwater tank industry, which Hydraloop has the potential to stimulate.”
FIDO is a leak detection system that includes both sensors and an online Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform for data analysis.
The AI analyses any audio or kinetic file to detect leak location and leak size in real-time and has been trialled by Wellington Water. This trial at Wellington Water detected 47 leaks across six designated market areas (DMA).
Wellington Water also monitored two smaller areas continuously for two weeks. Initially, there were some issues with firmware, but these were resolved.
FIDO bugs (sensors) were particularly useful in city centres where there is significant background noise during the day that makes conventional audio detection more difficult.
Wellington Water trialled FIDO following the W-Lab Nature Showcase in March 2021.
Programme Manager – Sustainable Water Supply & Demand at Wellington Water, Julian Fyfe, said, “FIDO provides a lower entry barrier for people to apply leak detection than the conventional leak detection methodologies. We intend to build on the technical and cost-effectiveness benefits we saw in the trial by incorporating FIDO into our suite of leak detection tools as we grow our water loss management capability.
“It helps to go into the W-Lab process with an open mind and to be prepared to participate in these forums so that you can hear how other practitioners are looking at and applying the technologies and learn from their experiences.”
Australian company Clarity Aquatic’s Constructed Floating Wetlands – a nature-based water treatment process replicates natural wetlands – is being trialled by Westernport Water and Deakin University’s Blue Carbon Lab.
The technology was presented at the W-Lab Nature Showcase in 2021.
The floating wetlands trial tested a number of potential benefits including:
- Nutrient reduction, which with sufficient reduction could potentially allow safe discharge to local waterways
- Reduction in Green-House Gas (GHG) emissions
- Cost savings in reducing the capital expenditure on lagoons by reducing their size (or not needing to expand them for population growth
- Carbon sequestration and uptake of PFAS
The trial is primarily focused on quantifying the reduction in nutrients that can be achieved by the floating wetlands technology.
Westenport Water, Meg Humphries, said, “the reason we became interested in this project was because we started to investigate more broadly nature-based approaches to wastewater management and opportunities to combine this with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“This is ground-breaking research to combine with the floating wetland trial. To Deakin University’s knowledge, this hasn’t been done anywhere else in the world.
“It’s a really exciting project and what I really loved about the W-Lab process was the collaborative nature at the very start, scoping it out, having all of those thoughts and contributions from both Clarity Aquatic, the company delivering the trial, and also from all of the water utilities.
Ms Humphries said,everyone came in with different background skill sets, but it was a nice environment to flesh things out and to hear from different people and it was a really nice experience all around.
“W-Lab is a great thing to be a part of and the knowledge shared and the openness of the process is so helpful to get your thinking about things that you wouldn’t have otherwise,” Ms Humphries said.
Daupler is an incident response management system for water and wastewater utilities that analyses reported issues to look for potential causes and provides the customer with an incident response tracking tool. Daupler is being trialled by Watercare.
The technology was featured in the W-Lab Customer Showcase in November 2021.
Watercare is looking at historical data for this trial and has discovered evidence that they can improve the source of problem fixes, rather than symptom fixes.
CX Design Specialist at Watercare, Ged Campbell, said “Daupler has helped to hone Watercare’s understanding around how information communication technology can deliver more productive incident response.
“Daupler analysed our fault service request information for a twelve-month period. We were walked through the analysis to show us how incident response is often focused on symptoms because causal information is obfuscated in big data.
“For example, Daupler identified multiple overflows near a fast-food restaurant. The incidents were not in the exact same location, so we attended and resolved the blockages that were causing the overflows without addressing the cause of the blockages. Daupler notified us that the nearby fast food restaurant likely needed to replace its grease traps.
“In this regard, information communication technology like Daupler can significantly improve productivity when responding to incidents by highlighting causal factors to staff.”
Watercare has recently trialled TechSee, an AR-powered remote visual customer engagement platform presented at the 2021 W-Lab Customer Showcase.
Customer Experience Delivery Specialist at Watercare, Zelda Kalmeier, said, “The new tool is helping us to solve customer queries faster and reduce the number of non-jobs our crews attend. Our faults services team started using TechSee about a month ago and is already seeing results. In the past three weeks, we’ve seen the number of fault jobs week on week decrease by eleven per cent, which is significant.”
Technology solutions continue to be sourced and communicated to W-Lab members. W-Lab Webinars take place fortnightly where new technologies are showcased from around the globe, sourced by Isle Utilities to overcome specific challenges of local water sector organisations.
Dr Hill said W-Lab continues to achieve advances for the local water sector.
“It will be exciting to see other technology trials being conducted in the future and technologies currently being trialled becoming operational in the local water sector,” Dr Hill said.
“Isle Utilities brings technology, end-users and investors together, advancing the adoption of emerging technologies and innovative practices. This creates value for our stakeholders and a positive impact on the world around us”.
This sponsored editorial is brought to you by Isle Utilities. For more information on how to implement or trial technologies, or to join W-Lab, please contact Dr Kelly Hill, Isle Utilities at [email protected]