Application of advanced diagnostics to re-engineer water treatment plants

2022-2025 (proposed)

Three-year ARC LP (application) to diagnose and assess  the accumulation of microbial populations within drinking water treatment plants, which have a high risk profile due to their close proximity to critical control barriers. This project will apply advanced microbial diagnostics to inform engineering decisions on the monitoring, operation, and design of drinking water treatment plants.

The impacts of cyanobacterial blooms in source water have been well-studied. However, microbial populations (including cyanobacteria) can also accumulate within drinking water treatment plants. As a result, water that has already been pre-treated may become exposed to cyanotoxins and unpleasant taste and odour compounds. Our project will improve the capacity of drinking water treatment plants to manage microbial growth, which will increase the resilience and robustness of our drinking water supply.

Focused Research Questions:

1. How do different pre-treatment processes influence microbial biodiversity within drinking water treatment plants?
2. Do particularly resilient, hard-to-treat microbes proliferate in these systems?
3. Which combination of advanced technologies should be used as part of an in-situ monitoring program within drinking water treatment plants?
4. How does microbial accumulation vary with the prevailing environmental and hydrodynamic conditions?
5. Can we re-engineer drinking water treatment plants to reduce microbial build-up in situations where pre-treatment control barriers are already breached?

Key Outcomes:

Review of critical control points for cyanobacterial removal and the application of advanced diagnostic technologies (Zamyadi et al, 2019)
Assessment of in-situ fluorometers as a real-time monitoring tool for cyanobacteria (Choo et al, 2019)


Rita Henderson
Richard Stuetz
Anas Ghadouani
Bojan Tamburic
Nick Crosbie
Debbie Gale


University of New South Wales | University of Western Australia | Melbourne Water | Seqwater | Goulburn Valley Water | Coliban Water


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