Intelligent Water Networks – Innovation on tap

The Intelligent Water Networks (IWN) program are a partnership between VicWater, Victorian water corporations, and DELWP that investigates new technologies and innovations to meet common challenges such as population growth, ageing infrastructure and climate variability more efficiently.

Innovation leads to a better way of doing things through new products and services or improved processes and systems. That leads to more efficient or effective desired outcomes. The desired result in the Victorian water sector is the continued delivery of high-quality, sustainable, reliable and affordable water and wastewater services to customers throughout our water networks. There are many ways in which the sector is embracing innovation to help it achieve this outcome.

VicWater is the peak industry association for the Victorian water sector, representing all 18 state-owned water corporations. Our tagline is ‘better together.’ We always seek opportunities to lead and support our members through industry collaboration and innovation.

One of the main ways we do this is through the Intelligent Water Networks (IWN) program, a partnership between VicWater, Victorian water corporations, and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). The IWN program investigates new technologies and innovations to meet common challenges. Those challenges include population growth, ageing infrastructure and climate variability.

The IWN program aims to provide innovative, world-leading technologies to the Victorian water industry, providing improved water and sewerage services. Through collaboration on technology trials and projects, IWN members can share costs, reduce risk, create efficiencies, build industry knowledge and capability, and ultimately provide greater value to water corporation customers.

What are the Intelligent Water Networks working on?

Some of the IWN technology trials currently underway include:

  • Remote field worker – using a high-definition camera that can be used to capture photos and videos in hard-to-reach places like tunnels, towers or behind large machinery and equipment, including hands-free verification and documentation
  • Water mains cleaning – using NO-DES technology that cleans the flushed water and returns it to the water reticulation system
  • Biosolids to biochar pilot plant – demonstrating PYROCO technology for converting biosolids into biochar
  • Telstra modular sewer monitoring solution – a multi-sensor device that includes a movement alarm, radar level transmitter, H2S gas sensor and level switch
  • Renewal program analytical solver – reviewing sewer reticulation, with each participant receiving a prioritisation of their sewer data to develop a prioritised program of works for sewer rehabilitation and maintenance
  • Pipeline drone inspection – using drones to conduct difficult or high-risk pipeline inspections of water mains on a bridge.

The Intelligent Water Networks and reducing emissions

The most notable initiative to emerge from the IWN program is Zero Emissions Water (ZEW). This large-scale renewable project was launched in 2019 to answer the question: ‘How could the water sector work together to reduce energy costs and emissions?’. Under the ZEW initiative, 13 participating water corporations use their combined purchasing power to procure solar power from Kiamal Solar Farm in northwest Victoria at a cheaper rate than going alone. Water corporations’ cost savings under the ZEW initiative help offset rising energy costs and keep customer bills down.

Through VicWater, the sector is currently exploring the possibility of setting up a similar vehicle to the ZEW to collectively access the market for carbon offsets as one way of meeting water corporations’ net zero targets as mandated by the Victorian Government.

The IWN program has been running for more than ten years. During that time, it has become an important vehicle for the Victorian water industry to demonstrate its ongoing commitment to exploring and applying new technologies and innovations to deliver safe, reliable, and efficient water services to the community.

We look forward to sharing more Intelligent Water Networks stories in future digital editions of Inside Water.

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