Lightweight filters reducing heavy sampling loads

We partnered with Monash University to trial continuous-flow ultrafiltration samplers, which provide a safer way to understand the quality of water in our waterways. Read this case study to learn more.

Sustainable Development Goal 09: Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Sustainable Development Goal 06: Clean water and sanitation

Sustainable Development Goals:
Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation
Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure


Understanding water quality is critical to ensuring that the 25,000 kilometres of waterways we manage are healthy and able to support biodiversity and other beneficial uses.

Traditional sampling techniques often require large volumes of water to be taken from the waterway. This poses logistical and health and safety risks to samplers, as well as offering only a limited snapshot of water quality in a constantly changing and dynamic system.

Research focus

Lightweight ultrafiltration sampler in use
The continuous-flow ultrafiltration sampler in use

To reduce risks and provide better data, we partnered with Monash University to validate and trial continuous-flow ultrafiltration samplers. These samplers, deployed in safe locations away from the waterway edge, draw water from the waterway via a small tube. The water is then passed through a filter which traps contaminants.

To provide a representative sample, the rate of pumping is matched to the flow in the waterway of interest, and the pumping rate is adjusted over time to compensate for clogging of the filters. Once the sampling period is completed, the filters are then collected and contaminants removed from the filters for analysis.


To date, both laboratory and field results are proving promising for microbes, with good consistency for E. coli and MS2 bacteriophages. Nutrients and metals are posing more of a challenge, but early work indicates that this can be managed through multiple washes of the filter.

Importantly from a health and safety point of view, samplers are no longer required to carry or transport heavy water samples – as each ultra-filter, which contains the ‘sample’, weighs in at only 200 grams.

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