Eye in the sky and an asset risk monitoring trial

North East Water (NEW) will be running participating in a trial to in an attempt to validate that the use of satellite data and advanced analytical techniques can in detecting hotspots of activity and the locations of heightened risks attributable to the failure (collapse or leakage) of pipeline assets.

Data layer deliverables to be identified will include terrain movement, vegetation intrusion, pipeline asset risk and asset risk zones. A contractor will also provide a list of identified leaks via a street address. Then with each leak will be marked on an individual site plan and validated using existing site acoustic methods.

This trial won’t be focused purely on actual leak detection, but will also be used to assess if the combination of outputs add to can provide potential leak detection benefits indicators.  It should may also be used to provide advanced warning of horizontal and vertical ground movement. Further to that, there is the and potentially for this technology to detect ground slumping caused by infiltration into stormwater and wastewater networks.

Longer term benefits to Intelligent Water Networks (IWN) members could be gained by using it as an early warning ‘big picture’ assessment of their assets. This can include all assets,  including water, draining drainage and waste water as well as roads, reservoirs, dams, water courses, pump stations and critical trunk mains.

Dean Barnett, IWN Program Manager - Leak Detection, Condition Assessment & Infiltration said: “This is a very exciting project which could change the way water corporations do business into the future.

We have a great diverse team working on this project, from specialised contractors to skilled and experienced staff from NEW. It’s only early days as the project kicked off last month.

At this stage we believe some longer-term benefits to IWN members is an early warning big picture high level assessment of their assets, which can include all assets from water, drainage and waste water, as well as to roads, reservoirs,  and dams, water courses, or pump stations. and critical trunk mains. All this can all be monitored precisely over time with the detection of millimetre variations.

We should have some more conclusive results towards the end of the year and early next year.”




Intelligent Water Networks share knowledge and learnings to a Chinese delegation

The Intelligent Water Networks (IWN) have hosted a Chinese delegation from Tianjin Municipal, who were eager to learn more about the organisation’s projects and programs.

A presentation was given by Program Director Brett Millington, which went into details surrounding IWN’s current programs – while Millington fielded questions at the end from the knowledge thirsty delegation.

While the networks were set up to enable and foster greater collaboration between Victorian water corps, this international link is an example of the shared challenges the world faces and proves the value of having an organisation such as IWN.

If knowledge, data and learnings from around the globe can be shared and accessed, it’ll enable more efficient decision making than ever before. And that is the ultimate goal of the IWN.

Talking about the session, Millington said: “It’s always great to explore the different ways of approaching services such as water and sewerage around the world and discuss the common problems we face.  Innovation comes in many forms, but typically starts with a problem to be solved.”

Dr Robert Ross and Dean Barnett provide valuable video insight into their PPPR project

Dr Robert Ross and Intelligent Water Networks (IWN) program lead Dean Barnett have provided a valuable video insight into the Pipe Probe Penetration Robot (PPPR) project.

Ross, from La Trobe University, and Barnett from Western Water, have been working on the concrete pipe testing machine as part of the Leak Detection, Condition Assessment and Infiltration program.

Acidic hydrogen sulfide gas (H2S) can build up in concrete sewer mains, softening concrete pipe walls and causing cracks and eventual collapse. The ability to accurately detect pipe deterioration early would minimise repair costs and service disruption.

Western Water partnered with La Trobe University in 2016 to develop and trial a Concrete Pipe Testing device. The technology comprises a small robotic tractor with a CCTV camera, which is lowered into an active sewer main via a manhole. The tractor records footage and tests the density of the concrete (relative to new concrete) at regular intervals, for up to 150 metres in either direction of the manhole. This data is analysed to determine the remaining life of the sewer and which, if any, sections require immediate replacement.

Watch the video update on the project below.


Remote technology has already made a difference to water corporations in Victoria as they have experienced an increase in efficiency and safety while mowing sloped areas.

In particular, Goulburn Murray Water (GMW) experienced great success at Newlyn, Tullaroop and Cairn Curran dams. Remote mowing at all three sites was responsible for the first effective inspection of downstream batters in over 10 years, while contractors at Hume Dam now use remote mowing equipment  on all steep slopes.

GWM has experienced a number of benefits from the use of this technology. Cutting with remote mowers enables a safe way to view steep dam embankment and removes OH&S hazards which affect dam safety inspections, such as slips, trips and falls.

A uniform grass length also allows any defects along dam embankments to be more easily observed. These include animal burrows, seepage, cracks and undulations. A uniform depth of grass cut would also allow technology such as drones to give a more effect aerial surveillance of dam embankments.

Andrew Gillingham, Senior Storage Officer, Catchment Services at GMW observed that this new technology was a huge upgrade on existing methods: “The remote mowers can cover this ground much more efficiently and safely.  One of the many OHS benefits of using this machinery includes better traction and less disturbance to the surface of the embankments.”

Meanwhile, Dam Safety Manager at GMW David Jeffery agreed that the remote mowers aided them a huge amount. “An even depth of cut grass allows any embankment defects to be more readily observed, including undulations, cracks, seepage and animal burrows and the uniform depth of cut grass also allows other technology, such as drones, to provide a more effective aerial surveillance of dam embankments afterwards,” he added.

Melbourne Water have also experienced success with this technology, although not on the same level as GMW. After a demonstration by the North East Grass team, in which mowers tackled a 22-degree batter. The Melbourne Water waterways and land department (WLD) has committed to undertake steps to determine the economic viability of introducing the mowers into the business.


The Intelligent Water Networks’ Flagship Program is currently carrying out 3 technology based trials. Each trial is investigating a different data management software, so that Victorian water corporations can decide which system, if any, they’d like to adopt going forward. Each system being trialled has been designed to better manage and integrate data so as to improve customer service, business processes, asset management and field operations.

Western Water is currently trialling Waternamics by Veolia and IBM, which is a software designed to integrate every facet of a water corporation’s operation. The Waternamics base platform displays integrated data and automates standard operating procedures. Additional modules offer specialised functions to assist specific operations, i.e. management of drinking water, wastewater, energy, customer service and work orders. Waternamics software will be linked to five existing management systems within Western Water as well as the GPS devices fixed to their vehicle fleet and stationary assets. Other corporations will be able to experience the platform via a ‘sandbox environment’ and the trial at Western Water will conclude in June 2018.

The second data management platform set to be trialled is i software by AECOM. This trial is being considered for Barwon Water, with Westernport Water and Gippsland Water observing, and Deakin University, Schneider Electrics and SEAMS UK advising. If it proceeds, the project will involve an Enterprise Decision Analytics platform to improve management of water and sewer mains and pumping stations. A second project under consideration (and open for participation by other water utilities) involves the use of predictive analytics on telemetry data to improve pump performance and efficiency. 

OSIsoft PI software by Green Technology Services is the third data management system that the Flagship Program is investigating, and this platform will be piloted at Lower Murray and East Gippsland Water until April 2018. OSIsoft PI is a cloud-based data management system that can aggregate, analyse and display real-time data from distributed assets, to streamline operations. Green Technology Services completed the design and build phase of the project in August 2017, and will continue to provide guidance to the two corporations with relation to their ongoing use of the PI software and analytics display throughout the course of the trial.

It is hoped that these data management solutions will ultimately assist water corporations in making sensible and cost-effective asset investment and business decisions.

Man Versus Machine: IWN Project Investigates Whether Remotely Operated Vehicles Offer a Safer, More Efficient And More Cost-Effective Alternative To Manual Tank Cleaning

The Intelligent Water Networks’ Remote Technologies Program recently conducted a series of trials designed to investigate, test and evaluate the benefits of using a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) to clean undrained water tanks.

Potable water tanks require regular cleaning so that a high level of water quality is maintained, however current methods for cleaning online tanks have inherent safety risks.

“At present, tanks are taken offline and drained, or divers are sent in to clean the tanks manually while the tanks aren’t in operation,” Project Manager Tanya Pearson said.

“Using divers to clean sediment build-up is costly, labour-intensive and raises hazard exposure safety concerns, so our project looked at ROVs as an alternative in order to eliminate the need for confined space entry by humans. We also assessed the technology’s efficiency and cost in comparison to manual cleaning,” Ms Pearson said.

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.

Not unlike a pool cleaner, the ROV tank cleaner 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 cleans between 80 and 90 square metres per hour.

The WEDA VR-600 ROV was trialled on five water tanks and one basin, some of which remained online and some of which were taken offline.

Upon completion of the trials, 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.

Project Manager Tanya Pearson was pleased with the outcomes of the various trials.

“IWN’s ROV Tank Cleaning Project has provided the water industry with some extremely valuable learnings.”


IWN recently ran a Digital Metering Collaboration Workshop at Crown Conference Centre in Melbourne, after recent survey results revealed that a significant interest exists in this area.

Presentations were given by industry employees and relevant experts on current digital metering projects, business cases, digital innovations and the lessons that have been learnt in this space thus far.

IWN’s Assistant Program Director, Rowan Keeble, said that the event was well attended and proved to be a beneficial collaborative exercise.

"We had great support for the recent Intelligent Water Networks' digital metering collaboration workshop, with representatives from all over Victoria meeting to share lessons on digital metering,” Mr Keeble said.

Following the presentations, those in attendance were asked to work shop a series of questions to promote open communication and facilitate connections across the industry.

Mr Keeble also noted the importance of knowledge sharing with regard to new technologies.

"It is essential that the water industry continues to monitor these digital metering advances and share their experiences to help capitalise on the benefits available." 

Digital metering: what could possibly go wrong?

Intelligent Water Networks (IWN) has developed a unique and valuable risk assessment tool for Victorian water businesses considering a move to digital metering.

‘The Digital Metering Risk Assessment Tool (DMRAT) is a prime example of the industry-led collaboration and innovation made possible by the IWN,’ says Neil Brennan, Chair of the IWN.

‘Many Victorian water businesses are contemplating digital metering, with some already working on business cases for consideration by their customers, Boards, the State Government and other stakeholders.

‘To ensure that these businesses cases are robust, all risks associated with digital metering must be identified, along with appropriate mitigations.'

 'If we separately engaged an expert consultant to complete our own risk assessments, it would cost up to $50,000 per business,’ says Virginia Collins, from Yarra Valley Water – leader of the DMRAT project, for the IWN.

‘Since all water businesses face common issues with digital metering, the IWN provided the platform to combine the resources of multiple stakeholders, do this work once and share the results across the industry.

‘As well as making significant savings in consultant fees, collaboration also allowed us to collate the collective knowledge of experienced personnel from multiple water businesses, ensuring a more thorough risk analysis.’

The development of the DMRAT was fully funded by the IWN, which is funded through member organization contributions. Yarra Valley Water managed the project, under a steering committee of representatives from other water businesses.

Oakley Greenwood was selected as the consultant on the project, after a tender process.

‘Oakley Greenwood facilitated a series of three full-day workshops to identify digital metering risks and mitigations. These were attended by 19 people, representing 14 water corporations, the IWN Executive Group and VicWater,’ Ms Collins says.

‘In addition, the consultant interviewed external stakeholders, including the Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria, the Essential Services Commission, the Water Services Association of Australia, and Victorian Government departments.

‘Nearly 200 risks associated with digital metering were identified through this process, along with recommended mitigations.’

The comprehensive list of potential risks produced through the IWN project includes those associated with customer perceptions, technology failures, data management and protection challenges, contractor problems, OH&S matters, environmental hazards, industrial relations issues, legal troubles, financial risks, vandalism, and more.

The risks and proposed mitigations were considered in the context of various business scenarios.

‘Different water businesses will make different technological and operational choices regarding digital metering, which change the associated risks, their weightings, and the possible mitigations,’ explains Ms Collins.

‘For example, one water business might choose ‘bleeding-edge’ metering and communications technologies, and an operational model involving multiple contractors and high frequency meter readings. Their risks will obviously be different to those of a business selecting well-established technology, keeping operations inhouse and opting for less frequent meter readings.

‘It became clear in the first workshop that the DMRAT would need to be flexible in order to accommodate a variety of users. We developed a range of five different hypothetical business scenarios, within which we considered and weighted associated risks, and identified appropriate mitigations.

‘Consequently, the DMRAT provides customised data – the user makes technological and operational choices and the tool adapts its outputs,’ Ms Collins says.

‘The DMRAT is unique in Australia – nothing else comes close. Victorian water businesses using this tool can take the next step towards digital metering with confidence that their risk analysis is of the highest possible standard.

‘I’m proud of this project and proud to be part of the IWN, providing our member water businesses with solutions that optimise expenditure and create positive outcomes for our customers.’

Inquiries from Victorian water corporations regarding access to the DMRAT should be addressed to Tanya Pearson, IWN Acting Assistant Program Director.

New projects approved in April

Two new projects have been approved during the month.  The first project, known as Pumpcheckr, uses smart technology and programming to identify how efficiently pumps are running, and identify when best to perform maintenance. This project is being managed by Trent Newton at North East Water.

The second project approved is to test the effectiveness of using Bitrex (an anti-ingestant) to identify cross-connections in class A recycled water supply systems. This project will be managed by Yarra Valley Water.  To learn more contact Luke Dickson.

New IWN Champions Initiative

IWN has launched a revised Champions program based on feedback from members.

The new Champion role places a greater emphasis on professional development and leadership opportunities.

IWN will improve the support it provides to Champions and empower them to drive IWN-related activities within their water corporation, region and the wider industry.

To give the new initiative a flying start, the inaugural IWN Champions Workshop was held from 28–29 October 2015. 

This event brought together all the Champions to introduce the enhanced role, facilitate relationship development and identify opportunities for future IWN projects.

An opportunity for professional and leadership development was also provided at the workshop for these emerging industry leaders.

A full list of the IWN Champions can be viewed on the IWN website.

M - Files

IWN is about to move into a new era of document management, where your documents are stored and accessed according to what they are rather than where they are.

M-Files is a proven document management system that is easy to use and integrates with your existing software to make saving and finding information really efficient – allowing water businesses to share information about IWN projects and data.

The rollout of the system and associated training has started this month and plans and contact is being made with CIO's within the industry.

Features included in M-Files are:
• Easily search for IWN documents based on what they are – you don’t have to remember where you saved something, rather search for a topic and you will be able to find your documents as well as any other relevant documents stored in the library
• Version control – you can be confident that only the latest version of a document is being modified, no matter who is working on it
• Collaboration with your colleagues with the click of a mouse
• Access to your documents anywhere through the online portal


Programs snapshot

Leak Detection and Pipe Rover Program
• CSIRO are scheduled to present their findings to the project team on 10 November on the recently completed trials of Pipescan+ in conjunction with CSIRO and JD7.
• Trials using Fibre Optics are currently being scoped with a service provider. There are multiple uses for this technology including water main leak detection, pipeline pressure monitoring, identification of illegal connections and infrastructure security.
• A potential trial using satellite imagery to identify leaks is also being investigated.

Asset Performance and Energy Optimisation Program (new program of work)
Business cases are currently being prepared for five projects:
• Collaborative Electricity Procurement
• Wastewater treatment operations optimisation
• Industry scale generation investment paper
• Real time adaptive energy performance  management through environmental sensors
• Decision model for electricity load shifting

Information, Analytics and Real-time System Optimisation Program
Flagship EOI proposals currently being assessed see article in this newsletter

Intelligent Water Metering Program
A business case being prepared for the preparation of an Industry Risk Assessment for Intelligent Metering implementation.  

 Intelligent metering

Intelligent metering

 Pipe Rover

Pipe Rover

IWN Expressions of Interest for flagship program participation

Expressions of Interest have recently closed for an exciting flagship pilot program to trial new, emerging, or existing intelligent water & wastewater network platforms that may be fully implemented into the Victorian water industry in the future.

The IWN Executive Group has invited the private sector to submit proposals to trial new, emerging or existing technologies that could improve the water industry’s operational services and efficiency.

IWN is looking for products, tools or systems that are highly flexible, adaptive and intuitive to help the water industry make the best economic asset decisions now, while also ‘future-proofing’ our communities.

Proposals are to include:
• Full details of the technology/product
• A methodology and plan (including resourcing) for incorporating that product into a water corporation's operation
• The commercial arrangements for trial
• Potential use of that product on a ‘business as usual’ basis if proved successful.

Assistant Program Director Rowan Keeble says there was a significant level of interest in the EOI with more than a dozen companies keen to discuss the opportunity further.  Assessment of the EOIs will commence shortly with a partnership (or partnerships) to be in place by May 2016.

Welcome to the inaugural IWN newsletter.

Welcome to the inaugural IWN newsletter. It is with much pleasure that I launch this regular update to keep our members informed of IWN activities and progress on a regular basis.

IWN has recently been reinvigorated with a fresh approach to the delivery of our program by restructuring the way the Victorian Water Industry participates in IWN initiatives and programs. In particular the approach includes providing opportunity for enhancements and up-skilling of water corporation staff, with the ‘Champions’ role now having development and leadership potential.

The IWN member model is unique to Victoria and is widely recognised as leading industry collaboration to drive innovation for benefit to our customers and the environment. The role of the ‘Champion’ is seen as integral to developing innovative practices and new technologies for the benefit of the water industry.

I encourage you to read through the newsletter as there are a number of exciting initiatives currently underway which we hope you not only find interesting, but also a demonstration of our commitment to delivering results for the Victorian Water Industry and its customers.

I look forward to providing ongoing IWN program updates to in you in the future.

I’d also welcome your feedback on our newsletter or IWN.  Contact me at mike.walsh@iwn.org.au

 Mike Walsh

Mike Walsh


New website, new contact details

IWN has now launched a new website – www.iwn.org.au

It’s one of the ways we’re working to provide more information for water industry colleagues about the innovative work that’s underway. 

You can also contact IWN through our new emails:

Program director Mike Walsh – mike.walsh@iwn.org.au

Assistant program director Rowan Keeble at rowan.keeble@iwn.org.au

IWN general enquiries: enquiries@iwn.org.au