Consumers regard the supply of safe, clean drinking water as a basic necessity, but management of this supply is complex.
While the need for treatment and chlorination plants is well understood in terms of reducing risk, natural barriers also play an important role. Melbourne’s unfiltered water supply makes the reservoir an essential part of the treatment train. Reservoirs are dynamic environments and to understand their role and improve the way they are operated and managed, continuous, real-time water quality and weather data is required.
In 2017, seven state-of-the-art water quality stations, known as vertical profiling systems (VPS), were installed in Melbourne’s most important drinking water reservoirs. The VPS stations provide detailed water quality and weather data – a crucial part of Melbourne Water’s water quality management strategy. This data is used to build three-dimensional hydrodynamic computer models for all the reservoirs.
The coupling of data and modelling has helped measure the reservoirs’ capacity to act as a barrier to contamination, a requirement under the Safe Drinking Water Act, and help water managers make decisions quickly and effectively.
A ‘reservoir dashboard’ containing this information gives operators and water quality managers instant access to this data via smartphone or computer.
The integration of this approach into Melbourne Water’s decision-making processes has been invaluable. It provides a detailed understanding of the risks to water quality and how to address potential changes, but it also saves money and time while maintaining our reputation for the supply of high-quality drinking water.