There are few more appreciative of the precious resource that is our water supply than our water crews across Australia and New Zealand. 

So, when the team on our Utilita Water Solutions joint venture were tasked with collaborating with their client on a cost effective and environmentally sustainable water conservative solution- they jumped right to it. 

The outcome of the collaboration and trial was greater than anyone could have imagined. Focused on improving the common task of cleaning water mains, the team found a solution to deliver a 98% water saving over traditional flushing methods, a significant reduction in costs and the potential to save almost 1% of total water consumed per year within a water network.

With the trial concluded, the insights and opportunity for implementation are now being looked at for use across other Ventia projects. 

Cleaning and maintenance of water mains

The cleaning of water pipes is a critical part of the operations and maintenance of a water network. This process keeps mains free of buildup, help prevent blockages and improves the efficiency and reliability of the service.
Traditionally there are a few different methods used to clean the mains, with the predominant one being flushing the mains with large amounts of water. 

 

Industry collaboration to find a more sustainable way

Having an environmentally sustainable solution is one thing - but it must also be financially sustainable. This was the challenge facing the team as they sought to modify the existing cleaning process to achieve the same or better results than current methods while also being cost competitive and resulting in minimal water loss.

The collaboration included our Utilita joint venture, our urban water utilities client and a technology partner specialising in the water, wastewater and renewables sectors.

 

The solution 

The innovation that the team developed combines ozonation, pumped scouring, and media filtration in a closed loop. This results in the water main being completely sanitised with almost no water loss.

Ozonating water is a process that eliminates a wide variety of inorganic, organic, and microbiological problems as well as taste and odor problems. 

During the cleaning process, filtered water is recirculated through the section of pipe until the water quality is proven using a digital monitoring station. The closed loop results in minimal water loss. Data is recorded throughout the process allowing for real time analysis as well as proof of improvement of water quality upon completion. The solution also has the ability to be mobilised quickly. 

 

Benefits over existing methods 

The team successfully trialed the new technology by cleaning 17 kilometres of water mains. They found that the closed loop flushing method resulted in a 98% water saving compared to traditional flushing of the water mains. 

When expanded across an entire network this could equate to a potential saving of 0.95% of total consumed water per annum, across a typical water utility. 

In addition, by utilising ozone in sanitation and not just the traditional use of velocity, the frequency of mains cleaning is reduced significantly. In turn, this reduces costs and water use dramatically over an extended time period. As an added sustainability and cost benefit, Ozone is produced on-demand and does not require transportation or storage of hazardous chemicals. 

The team also identified additional uses such as the ability to use the process for a bacterial outbreak within a network. This is due to the capacity for the technology to be mobilised quickly whilst isolating and completely sanitising sections of water main for all pathogens, all while having minimal water loss.

"The successful outcomes of the trial would not have transpired without the expertly managed collaboration between all parties," said Chris McRae, Director of the Utilita contract. 

This efficient collaboration was the key underlying factor to the initial success of the trial.

Jeff Bretz, Ventia's Executive General Manager Water said the innovation was a great example of partnering with a client to drive great sustainability outcomes. 

In the coming decade, the focus on how we look after our most precious resources will only increase and it's great to see our people collaborating on solutions that will help to drive a more sustainable future," he said.