Research and innovation
Research and innovation at Melbourne Water is fundamental to realising our vision of ‘Enhancing Life and Liveability’ for the greater Melbourne area and supports each of the three pillars of our service to the community:
- Healthy People – Strengthening the wellbeing of the community
- Healthy Places – Co-creating the world’s most desirable places to live
- Healthy Environment – Enhancing the natural environment.
Through research and innovation we look for better, faster and more cost-effective ways to deliver our services; enhance our capability; help reduce environmental and public health risks; enhance liveability; inform regulation and policy, and improve efficiency and productivity.
Our research programs cover all areas of our business from drinking water to waterway health, from wastewater treatment to asset management. Some programs aim to deal with existing issues such flood mitigation or pollutants while others ensure we are prepared for potential future issues such as bushfire planning or climate change.
This program focuses on increasing the safety, effectiveness, efficiency and resilience of built and natural assets; the use of new and emerging materials and technologies; extending the useful life of assets; and optimising asset management.
An important component of the program is Melbourne Water’s interaction with, and support of, Water Services Association of Australia’s (WSAA) Asset Management Research Program.
- 3D photogrammetry to identify stress hot spots (in the WTP covers)
- Improving Greenvale and Upper Yarra Dams
Microbial and aesthetic water quality are the major research drivers. Several current and planned projects address water quality issues ranging from the catchments to the supply to the retail water companies and consumers. Projects cover areas related to bushfire impacts, pathogen risks and reservoir behaviour.
- Predicting debris flow in our catchments
- Real-time monitoring of our reservoirs
- Using drones to predict forest water use
Melbourne Water is an innovative business, and safety is no exception to this. We are committed to improving the safety and wellbeing of both our employees and our contract partners by investing in new technologies and initiatives that offer a new approach to traditional safety.
Wastewater treatment technology, marine and biosolids research
This program focuses on increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the wastewater treatment processes and the management of current and emerging process risks at the Eastern and Western Wastewater Treatment Plants. A major aim of the program is to reduce the capital and operating costs associated with sewage treatment, while improving service delivery. This includes providing data and information to influence evidence-based regulation of environmental discharges from our wastewater treatment activities.
- Drone monitoring of intertidal zones
- Habitat monitoring near South Eastern Outfall
- Maximising anaerobic digestion via recuperative thickening
Water recycling and integrated water management research
This program is involved in research projects which will lead to: (i) an improvement in quality, quantity, cost effectiveness, related environmental issues and reliability of supply of recycled and alternative water sources, (ii) support for the implementation of integrated water management, and (iii) ensures that Melbourne Water is well positioned to cope with changes over the next decade in both areas.
Waterways, wetlands and aquatic ecology
The major components of research in the waterways and wetlands research program relate to water resource planning, stormwater management, river health improvement and public health protection undertaken mainly within the framework of several universities, research agencies, and CRCs.
- Catchment-scale stormwater control for stream restoration
- Co-design: Shared strategy and science for rivers, creeks, wetlands and estuaries
- Habitat suitability models
- Monitoring waterway biodiversity using environmental DNA
- Protecting the health of Western Port
Innovation refers to how we create and implement more effective and safer processes, products and ideas. Melbourne Water aims for a culture of innovation across the whole business which will result in creative ideas, new ways of solving problems, and help us adapt to changes in our environment.
- Shortcut nitrogen removal demonstration plant
- Turning organic waste into renewable energy by co-digestion
- Innovation competition to reduce Scope 1 greenhouse gas emissions
- Increasing water pump efficiency through artificial intelligence
- Greening the Pipeline Pilot Park, transforming old into new
- The Internet of Things (IoT) and cathodic protection identified early pipe failure
- Integrated Water Management: tool for long-term region-wide outlook