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We often take things for granted – like clean fresh water when we turn on the tap. The 12th Annual WIOA NSW Water Industry Operations Conference and Exhibition showed how the industry is striving to make water cleaner and cheaper.
I was delighted to present the opening address at the conference, which was held in Tamworth on 11 and 12 April, on behalf of the Water Industry Reference Committee (IRC) that AIS supports. I gave an overview of the skills required by the industry, now and in the future, and current and proposed IRC projects to develop the National Water Training Package. I also informed and encouraged stakeholders about how they can get involved in the Training Package development process.
Like many other industries the water industry faces challenges in attracting new staff, particularly in remote areas. The implementation of new and emerging technologies will assist the industry in attracting the next generation of water operators and help keep the cost of water supply and treatment affordable.
Operators and industry experts at the conference shared the latest operational, technical and research based information through technical papers and poster presentation sessions. Rarely at conferences is there such open sharing of information, enabling stakeholders to learn about new technology and innovative practices that have been successfully applied in the water industry.
These sessions provided a first-hand insight to operational issues and challenges many face daily. They detailed new methods and systems involved in projects concerning water storage, water treatment, asset replenishment and maintenance, and environmental sustainability.
One of the most interesting papers was presented by David Bedggood, Area Coordinator at North East Water, on the Yackandandah Energy Storage Project. The corporation, in partnership with the Intelligent Water Network and the Totally Renewable Yackandandah (TRY) group recently completed the first solar photovoltaic and battery storage installation to run a water treatment plant off grid.
The paper noted that energy storage will be the game changer for the water industry over the next ten years and that the introduction of battery storage can deliver water corporations control of the cost and reliability of their energy supply. This project is helping North East Water meet its carbon pledge of a 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2025. Learnings from the project will help other corporations in the industry deliver renewable energy projects.
The NSW conference is one of three very successful ‘operationally focussed’ conferences and exhibitions organise by WIOA annually, with conferences also held in Queensland and Victoria.
WIOA is a national Association with a primary role of facilitating the collection, development and exchange of quality information between people undertaking operational roles in the water industry. Its key objectives include promoting standards of education and training, and operator certification to ensure efficiency and competency of members, preservation of clean waterways, and protection of Public Health and the environment.