This program aims to investigate the potential uses for remote technologies in water. Taking a sector wide approach to water related remote technologies means that the risk of capital investment for some can be mitigated, by being able to access technology and skill sets that are already available. Looking at potential usage opportunities collaboratively across the water corporations enables us as a sector to develop a deeper understanding of where this technology can bring most value. The leader of this program is Brock Tunnicliffe from City West Water.

Key areas of interest:

-          Site mapping

-          Conditions inspections

-          Tank inspections

-          Detecting compliance violations (take & use of water)

-          Visual leaks and corrosion

-          Locating pipelines

-          Asset tracking

-          Below ground leaks

-          Detecting fugitive emissions

-          Surveying

-          LIDAR mapping

-          Viewing of easements on customer properties

-          Remote viewing of assets / SCADA alarms

-          Monitoring of H2

Working Group members:

The remote technologies working group meet monthly to discuss potential trial applications and deepen their knowledge and understanding of the required technology to enable them to put together business cases for consideration by the IWN Executive Group.  Current working group members include:

-          Andrea Pogue – Goulburn Murray Water

-          Victoria Hart – Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water

-          Michael Fawcett – South Gippsland Water

-          David Moore – Barwon Water

-          Bronwyn Armstrong – Barwon Water

-          Stephen Hall – North East Water

-          Jacob Meehan – Western Water

-          Bradley Roberts – Goulburn Murray Water

Current Projects


ROV Tank Cleaning Project


When sediments build up in potable water tanks, they reduce the effectiveness of chlorine disinfection and compromise water quality. Cleaning or inspecting tanks and reservoirs usually involves emptying them or sending in divers. Both options are expensive, labour-intensive and raise confined-space safety issues. These methods may also require taking the tank offline, interrupting customer supply.

Tank cleaning using remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) could minimise these issues.

Description of trial

In October of this year, Kelly’s Australia was commissioned to trial the WEDA VR-600 underwater cleaning ROV supplied by VoR Environmental at six Victorian water corporation sites: Yarra Valley Water, Coliban Water, South East Water, Goulburn Valley Water, Westernport Water and East Gippsland Water.

Like a robotic pool cleaner, the VR-600 crawls along the bottom of a water tank or basin on caterpillar tracks. It uses rotating brushes to loosen stubborn material and a powerful submersible pump to suck up sediment. The waste is discharged via a hose into nearby sewers or a tanker truck, or where appropriate, disposed into the stormwater system.

The ROV is also equipped with lights and cameras, is steered by an operator using real-time video, and can be lowered through a 600 x 600mm hatch. It can manoeuvre in tight spaces and can clean 80 to 90 square metres per hour, while minimising turbidity. It cannot clean water tank columns, baffles or walls. 

During these trials a second floating camera and water sampling at the outlet provided a visual check and measurement of turbidity to ensure water quality was maintained. The WEDA VR-600 ROV was tested on five water tanks and one basin, some of which remained online and some of which were taken offline.

The purpose of this project was to compare the efficiency, effectiveness, cost and safety of cleaning water tanks and basins using an ROV, as opposed to manual cleaning and diver cleaning.

Current status of trial

The ROV tank cleaning trials are now complete. Data revealed that the ROV effectively and efficiently cleaned the base of the water tanks, and the technology’s operational cost was found to be comparable to that of using divers. The ROV also eliminated the need for confined space entry by humans thereby cancelling out its associated risk factors. Turbidity monitoring at the tank outlets and CCTV vision also confirmed that ROVs are capable of cleaning tanks whilst they’re in service, and can do so without disturbing sediments or causing slugs of dirty water to reach the outlet. Unfortunately, the ROV was unable to clean the basin at East Gippsland Water, due to the uneven nature of the basin’s surface, and its sloping sides.