Does running a groundwater replenishment scheme result in a water-secure future?

Posted 4 April 2018

Water Corporation’s Groundwater Replenishment Scheme is one of the first of its kind to be implemented in Australia and, with the country now looking forward to a water-secure future, there are many lessons to learn from the scheme.

Set to present at this year’s Ozwater’18 on aspects of running a groundwater replenishment scheme, Water Corporation Water Quality Senior Technical Advisor Stacey Hamilton said compliance requirements are a “crucial consideration”. 

“Water produced by the Advanced Water Recycling Plant (AWRP) must meet strict water quality guidelines, set by the Department of Health. Water Corporation monitors 166 chemical and microbiological parameters at Stage 1 of the Groundwater Replenishment Scheme in Craigie,” Hamilton said.  
 
“The performance of the treatment plant is continuously monitored 24 hours a day to ensure all steps in the treatment process are operating correctly. There are several water quality checkpoints throughout the treatment process to ensure each stage of the plant is working at optimum levels. 

“If water does not meet the required standard when it reaches a check point, it triggers an alert for action to be taken. The performance of the treatment plant is also reviewed with the Department of Health on a monthly basis.”

While compliance is a fundamental step to get right and the trial highlighting the challenges inherent in achieving successful operation, Hamilton said the payoff “has been huge”.

“Understanding the intricacies of a full-scale plant in both design and operation aspects produced some great operational learnings. One of the first challenges was understanding the impact of the overall hydraulic profile of a full-scale AWRP on water quality performance, compared to the trial plant,” Hamilton said. 
 
“Other lessons learnt included the modification of the process used to clean the reverse osmosis membranes in the full-scale AWRP, allowing membranes to be cleaned more effectively. 

“All this hard work has paid off, with Stage 1 of the Groundwater Replenishment Scheme now operating for around six months, with more than 3GL of recycled water recharged to aquifers.”
 
Now the scheme is fully operational and set to expand. Hamilton said the benefits are “clear cut”, with Perth now able to access more water, in a more sustainable fashion. 

“Water Corporation has been working towards the targets in Water Forever – which is its long-term plan to secure water supplies in the drying climate,” she said. 

“Water Forever adopts a three-pronged approach, which includes working with the community to reduce water use, increasing the amount of water recycled and developing new water sources.
 
“Groundwater replenishment ticks two of these boxes – a new water source and an increase in water recycling. So far, Stage 1 of the scheme has recharged more than 3 billion litres of water. When the scheme ramps up to full capacity, it will be able to recharge up to 14 billion litres of water each year.”
 
Register for Ozwater’18 to learn more from Stacey Hamilton about the operational learnings and compliance requirements of Australia’s first groundwater replenishment scheme.