From the CEO
Water Reuse vs. Desalination?
At the Water Reuse and Desalination Symposium held on 4-5 November in Brisbane, Rich Nagel, General Manager of the West Basin Municipal Water District in Los Angeles described the relative merits of direct potable water recycling with seawater desalination in terms of a car race, looking at things like cost, environmental impact, public acceptance, public health and permitting. While the cars passed each other a number of times on Rich’s race track, seawater desalination won in the end simply because right now it’s not possible to get a permit to build a direct potable reuse plant in California for drinking water. While it was an entertaining thought provoker (along with Rich’s stunning photos of the impact of the California drought), I am not confident the concept of there being some sort of competition between seawater desalination and potable water reuse is useful to consumers.
The Water Corporation’s CEO Sue Murphy gave a keynote address describing Perth’s complete dependence on seawater desalination for half of the city’s water. Indirect potable water recycling, as well as seawater desalination, has been embraced by the people of Perth resulting in an advanced water recycling project under construction at Beenyup to inject highly treated wastewater into the Gnangara Mound potable groundwater aquifer. However, when completed, the plant will be capable of producing just a tenth of the water produced by the two desalination plants.
Rather than being in competition, it is helpful to think of water recycling and desalination as both being needed to ensure water security as part of a diverse portfolio. Desalination puts new water into the system, whereas water recycling makes very efficient use and reuse of the water. In Perth’s case there are also dams, groundwater and stormwater. Along with water conservation, they make up no less than six elements which complement each other to ensure ongoing water security.
All in all, it was a very stimulating conference organised by the two centres of excellence (water recycling and desalination), WateReuse Association (USA) and Water Services Association of Australia.
As we approach the end of 2015, I would like to extend compliments of the season to all of our valued friends and supporters on behalf of the Board and staff of the NCEDA. Our very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.
As we embrace a new direction in 2016, we look forward to your on-going support for Australian desalination research.
Chief Executive Officer
0417 996 126
In this issue
Opinion piece by Neil Palmer for the San Diego Union-Tribune that appeared 28 November 2015.
Congratulations to San Diego for finally completing the 50 million-gallon-per-day Carlsbad desalination plant, scheduled for opening 14 December 2015. When project developer Poseidon and the San Diego County Water Authority started this journey 18 years ago, Australia had no major seawater desalination plants. Australia is known as the land “of drought and flooding rains” and we have learned the bitter lesson of not having adequate diversity of water sources during the tough times.
Facing the worst drought in 1,000 years (1997 to 2010), Australian state water utilities built six large seawater desalination plants ranging in size from 35 million to 120 million gallons per day in all mainland state capitals in just eight years. A 60 million-gallon-per day potable water recycling system was also built in Brisbane. The total investment in these water security measures was around $15 billion Australian (about $11 billion U.S.) to provide water security in the face of climate change, increasingly volatile weather patterns and population growth.
The people of San Diego can feel proud that they can now source their own drinking water from the inexhaustible supply of the Pacific Ocean. They have not only increased their water security but have reduced the amount of water they take from people in inland U.S. that depend on it for agriculture and community use, and who have no alternative supply.
Perth in Western Australia has a similar climate to San Diego, characterised by winter rains and long hot summer droughts. Climate change in south western Australia over the past 40 years has dramatically reduced annual water yield from dams, which, since 1911, had been the major source of the city’s drinking water. In fact, this year (the worst on record), inflow to dams has been less than the annual evaporation loss. Starting in 2004, Perth built two large seawater desalination plants that now operate 100% of the time and supply 40% of the city’s water, the balance coming from groundwater. The Carlsbad desalination plant will also operate 100% of the time as a base-load plant and will supply around 9% of San Diego’s potable water.
In Melbourne, by contrast, the final stages of construction of the 120 million-gallon-per-day Victorian Desalination Plant (Australia’s largest) were marred by the impact of heavy rainfall when the drought broke. While there was some questioning of the need for the plant by Australia’s “Monday morning quarterbacks,” the reality was that Melbourne’s main dam was down to just 20%. Had the drought continued, the city could have run out of water. Now, just three years after the rain, Victoria is once again in the grip of drought (as is all of inland eastern Australia) and media comment is now about Melbourne “looking to the desalination plant for its water security.”
We are aware that there is some concern in California that seawater desalination plants might impact on the marine environment. Western Australia’s experience with the Kwinana desalination plant over the past nine years provides clear evidence that those fears are without foundation. The Kwinana plant is located in a semi-enclosed bay with a low-velocity open intake and concentrate return diffuser system. Operating at 100% flow for all those nine years, the open intake has had no effect on the fisheries of Cockburn Sound, and the highly monitored outfall diffuser system has had no adverse impact on the marine environment. In fact, the diffuser pipework looks like an artificial reef and is a haven for a large diversity of marine life.
Our real-world experience in Western Australia leaves us in no doubt that the Carlsbad desalination plant will be a great success. We have learned that it is important to develop a diverse portfolio of water resources that act independently of weather and climate and include desalination, recycling and conservation, and the entire San Diego region will benefit from the Carlsbad facility going online.
It will prove to have no adverse impact on the ocean and pave the way for more desalination plants that will bolster the water supplies of California’s coastal communities. It will provide a new level of water security to San Diego consumers and justify many times over the persistence of the San Diego County Water Authority and Poseidon in pursuing this significant milestone.
Osmoflo, one of the NCEDA’s Gold Sponsors, secured the Engineer Procurement Construction (EPC) contract in December 2014 to provide a 12.5 million imperial gallons of water per day seawater RO plant to ACWA Power Barka. The project is located 60km north of Oman’s capital city, Muscat, and once completed the project will serve the country’s capital city and surrounding areas which have been experiencing increased water demands.
The project recently reached the milestone of 1.5 million hours lost time injury free. Since the number of workers is anywhere up to 680 at any one point for this particular project, this achievement showcases Osmoflo’s exceptional safety record, which in February of 2015 clocked over 4 years since the last lost time injury.
Managing Director (and Deputy Chair of the NCEDA Board) Graham Dooley congratulated those involved in the project on this impressive feat. “When undertaking turnkey projects, especially on a global scale, the risk from a safety perspective increases exponentially. This makes this milestone of reaching one million hours with no lost time injuries all the more notable.”
“The excellent work of the Osmoflo team, with the excellent safety culture that has been imbedded by Osmoflo throughout our 20+ year history all contributed to this milestone.” Mr Dooley explained.
The milestone was celebrated on the 19th of November throughout Osmoflo’s global locations.
Osmoflo is the largest Australian desalination and water recycling company. Operating to world standards, it is Australia’s market leader in reverse osmosis desalination technology. The privately owned company has delivered over 450 projects in Australia and overseas, with over 80 long-term operation and maintenance agreements. It has a workforce of 220 people located throughout a network of offices in all mainland Australian capital cities, Chile, Dubai and India.
The NCEDA’s Commercialisation Manager, Tymen Brom, will be a crew member on Clipper Ventures 10 for the 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race that leaves Sydney harbour on Boxing Day.
With four circumnavigations and more than 140,000 miles under her hull, Clipper Ventures 10 is a tried and tested ocean racing yacht. The stripped down 68 foot racing yacht comes from the drawing board of renowned yacht designer Ed Dubois and has been designed for fast downwind ocean racing.
Tymen will be one of a 14-member crew that is participating in this leg of the biennial Clipper Round the World Yacht Race that left London at the end of August and has already raced over 16,000 miles after completing four of its 14-race global series of more than 40,000 nautical miles, making it the world’s longest, and toughest, ocean race.
The NCEDA wishes Tymen a fair wind and a following sea.
The NCEDA is the recipient of the 2015 AWA Research Innovation Award (WA Branch). This prestigious award was given for the Centre-funded project “Evaluation of Vibratory Shear Membrane Technology for Concentrate Minimisation and Brine Recovery” and accepted by Neil Palmer at the AWA Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony in Perth on Friday 20 November.
The project that was led by Curtin University, partnered with Monash University, Ixom (formerly Orica Watercare) and the Water Corporation to trial the use of a novel membrane technology called Vibratory Shear Enhanced Process (VSEP) and demonstrate its potential for solving brackish water reverse osmosis (BWRO) brine treatment and disposal.
The project proved beneficial to the wastewater treatment process at the Wanneroo Ground Water Treatment Plant by providing significant improvements in brine waste removal and transport costs.
The AWA Research Innovation Award recognises environmentally significant research projects and initiatives within the water industry. The WA winner of this category is automatically a finalist in the National Awards that will be announced at OzWater2016 in Melbourne in May 2016.
The full list of the WA branch award winners can be found here.
It is time once again to nominate for the GWI annual Global Water Awards. These prestigious awards reward companies, projects and even individual plants that have been making waves in the international water industry in the past year.
The awards aren’t just for major players; any water company, big or small, can compete. So if you or your organisation is doing something exceptional in the water sector then visit the GWI website and nominate for one of the categories, such as Desalination Company of the Year.
Nominations close on 31st January 2016. The shortlist will be published in February 2016 and voting will be open to readers of Global Water Intelligence and Water Desalination Report, and members of the International Desalination Association (IDA).
International Water Summit – 18-21 January 2016, Abu Dhabi
2nd International Conference on Desalination and Environment – 23-26 January 2016, Doha
The 2016 AWA/IWA Young Water Professionals Conference – 18-19 Feb 2016, UNSW, Sydney
10th Global Water Summit – 19-20 April 2016, Abu Dhabi, UAE
OzWater16 – 10-12 May 2016, Melbourne
IWA World Water Congress and Exhibition 2016 – 9-13 October 2016, Brisbane.
The NCEDA is grateful for the generous support of our Gold Industry Sponsors.