Water Journal : Water Journal November 2014
WATER NOVEMBER 2014 28 Feature Article Gaining a greater understanding of research methodology and approaches has also helped me in my day-to-day role, and it is with greater con dence that I can review and critique research proposals within the organisation." SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL LITERACY This year saw the rst public WaterRA Research Symposium held over two days in Melbourne. Taking two days to hear about research is a big ask these days, so it was hugely pleasing to see more than 100 people turn up to hear about 20 of our current and recently completed projects. Presenters included seasoned industry professionals (including Professor Karl Linden from the US, who stepped in at the last minute as a keynote) and PhD students. One afternoon comprised a hypothetical, wherein an industry panel was guided through a bush re scenario. The task was to explore how water managers would respond at each stage of the developing crisis. The hypothetical was associated with WaterRA Project 1063 -- Identify and assess the water quality risks from extreme events. The insights from this and the rst hypothetical, held in Brisbane in May, will contribute industry experience and practice to the project, which seeks to enhance the ability of Australian water utilities to manage the consequences of a range of extreme weather events. Everyone bene ts from the discussions and brainstorming that occurs at such events. Health Stream is another signi cant commitment by WaterRA. For nearly 20 years this quarterly publication, produced by Martha Sinclair and Pam Hayes at Monash University, has summarised the 'world of drinking water and public health', giving subscribers from all sectors of the industry a professional and analytical overview of drinking water-related incidents and noteworthy research papers. We have Health Stream subscribers in many countries. This year WaterRA implemented an annual subscription for Health Stream for non-members. Andrew DeGraca was our rst external Health Stream subscriber. He is the Water Quality Director for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC). The SFPUC is a municipal water, wastewater and power utility. We asked him to tell us about how he became aware of Health Stream, and received this reply. "The SFPUC provides services to 2.6 million people; 1/3 reside in San Francisco and 2/3 reside in a few dozen suburban communities. The wastewater enterprise, a combined sewer system, primarily provides service to San Francisco. "The SFPUC is very much concerned about protecting public health, especially by preventing waterborne illness. Our major source of supply, Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite National Park, is un ltered and we have a relatively high immune-compromised population base. We also have emergencies like the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, where water system disruptions can cause quality problems requiring a Boil Water Order. In addition, we have a highly educated and engaged customer base that is concerned about drinking water quality/health issues. "I became aware of Health Stream after meeting Martha Sinclair in San Francisco (in the late 1990s). She was engaged with Melbourne, another large un ltered system, and decided to meet with other un ltered utilities while on a visit to the United States. After the visit, she added me to the mailing list. "Health Stream is a highly valuable and very unique publication. I am not aware of any other international publication that surveys water health research and distills it into easily digestible information. Such distillation is especially helpful for the typical utility water quality person who has an engineering/laboratory versus public health background." EDUCATION WaterRA has continued a pivotal strategy from the CRC program, which was an industry-relevant Education Program. What WaterRA offers is extra support for high-calibre students who can see the possibilities of a career in the water industry. In the past few years this program has stepped up and developed some great initiatives, not only for students but also for member employees. The Education Program is now primarily externally funded, mostly by member organisations. Sponsorship comes from organisations with a research requirement -- and a student project is one option to ll that gap. Bene ts to participant sponsors are both practical and reputational. Student projects need to meet a few criteria. Ideally they will t within the research priorities of an Australian university or research organisation together with an industry partner. The win for the industry partner is that student projects can conduct research at relatively low cost, and a need is met that an organisation may not have the resources and/or staff to undertake. A student project can be part of a larger project, by investigating a speci c piece of the puzzle. Students gain life skills such as budgeting, time management, relationship management and meeting expected outcomes. The WaterRA experience provides students with choices for career progression. Each project will present its own hurdles and rewards, as cited by PhD student Kalinda Watson. "It has been a challenge -- I've had to design and build the infrastructure to enable my testing, as my research area was still being established at the Smart Water Centre when I began. Now we have a team, and the scholarship has enabled me to tap into the expertise of international experts -- which has con rmed my plan to continue my career with a focus on academic research." WaterRA works together with industry and academia to bring a student project to fruition. Collaborative projects provide great learning opportunities. Jane-Louise Lampard, who has worked her way through the Education Program, rst as a Summer Student, moving to Honours and now nearing completion of her PhD at Grif th University, said: "Regular dialogue with our industry partners ensures we develop an understanding of the key challenges they are facing and gives us the opportunity to explain to them the science behind our results and the challenges we face." It may well be that Jane-Louise remains in the University system, but if so, she will have a strong orientation to industry. Kalinda Watson with her modi ed RO system used for NOM isolation.
Water Journal September 2014
Water Journal December 2014