Small Water & Wastewater System Specialist Network


The aim of this network is to promote the application and viability of small water and wastewater systems in:

  • Neighbourhoods
  • Industrial facilities
  • Small developments
  • Remote communities
  • Rural and farming
  • Regional areas
As the AWA has established 14 Specialist Networks across the water spectrum, it is recognised that there will evidently be potential overlaps between the primary focus areas and the secondary focus areas between some of the Specialist Networks.  

For the Small Water and Wastewater Systems (SWWS) Specialist Network, the primary focus areas will include:

  • Technology associated with small water and wastewater treatment plants with a capacity of 2,000 EP
  • Addressing the overarching opportunities and challenges associated with the design, operation and governance of SWWS reticulation and collection systems
  • Promotion of the application and viability of SWWS and facilitate knowledge sharing between members
  • Encourage a greater appreciation of the sustainability of decentralised systems in the broader water industry across Australia.

The secondary focus areas follow acknowledgment that there are other Specialist Networks that are likely to be better positioned to provide specific leadership and industry advice including:

General information about SWWS

Small water and wastewater systems include individual onsite systems for several houses, an industry or farming venture through to treatment plants for communities up to a population of 2000. 
Small water and wastewater systems face unique challenges compared with larger municipal systems including

  • Limited availability and sustainability of suitably skilled resources
  • Existing infrastructure is non-existent and/or inadequate
  • Inconsistent capital grant funding mechanisms and processes
  • Higher capital and operating costs for the quantity of product  
  • Lack of protocol and suitable processes for operation and maintenance of existing treatment infrastructure and;
  • Inconsistent implementation and education appropriate monitoring and reporting for compliance with guidelines and licence requirements
  • Logistical difficulties with sample collection and laboratory analysis
  • Reluctance of acceptance across the private sector and/or regulators

The acceptance and integration of SWWS, namely decentralized plants, is growing as water and wastewater managers aim to improve the sustainability of new developments, infrastructure and the urban environment. This includes the use of studies such as an integrated water management plans, to help identify where and how decentralized systems can be incorporated into a master plan for a new development. Likewise, a more holistic system wide approach is being taken to close the water loop which can be achieved through decentralized systems. 

For small and remote communities, the continued progress of the design, construction and operation of appropriate technology of SWWS will improve the level of service that can be delivered. 

Other impetuses for raising the status of SWWS include:

  • Water and energy nexus
  • Federal and State government funding for community wide stormwater and wastewater reuse projects, Incorporation of water efficiency and reuse in green building requirements