We develop new ways to monitor and reduce problems caused by microbes in water treatment and distribution systems and other engineered environments.

The challenge

Microorganisms in water treatment and distribution systems

Microbial growth in water treatment and distribution systems is a major concern for consumers and water utilities. Microorganisms contribute to a number of water-related problems, such as:

  • biofouling of water production bores and membranes
  • bioclogging of aquifers during managed aquifer recharge
  • biocorrosion of infrastructure
  • discoloured water events
  • reduced efficacy of disinfectants
  • enhanced presence and persistence of pathogens.

These issues are a significant financial cost to the utilities due to increased maintenance and cleaning requirements, and they pose potential risks to human health.

Our response

New ways to monitor and reduce microbial problems

We're working with industry and universities to increase the fundamental understanding of problems caused by microorganisms in water extraction, treatment and distribution systems and other engineered environments. Our work examines a range of systems including aquifers, water production bores, water treatment unit operations, water distribution networks and other infrastructure.

We monitor industry and water utility infrastructure at a number of field sites around Australia.

We also develop new tools and techniques which can be used to rapidly monitor and mitigate microbially induced problems.

Our recent research has examined:

  • Membrane processes for water purification
  • Efficiency of UV disinfection
  • Microbiology of aquifers during managed aquifer recharge with treated wastewater
  • Microbiology of stormwater distribution networks
  • Decay of disinfectants in water distribution systems
  • Discoloured water events in drinking water distribution systems
  • Rapid detection methods for pathogenic microorganisms
  • Enhanced pathogen survival in biofilms
  • Operational disinfection targets to remove biofilm associated pathogens
  • Factors supporting the growth and survival of pathogenic microorganisms
  • Effects of pipe materials on biofilm formation
  • Biocorrosion of infrastructure
  • Biofilm sensors for monitoring biofouling and optimising disinfectant dosing.

The results

Improved water treatment and quality

Our research, tools and techniques help to optimise the use of engineered infrastructure. With better microbial monitoring, operators are better able to respond to problems caused by microorganisms. This ensures high product quality, reduces costs and decreases potential health risks.

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We partner with small and large companies, government and industry in Australia and around the world.

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