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18-May-2015

Innovation a key component to the expansion of water recycling in Australia

The Centre welcomes a national dialogue on water recycling among private enterprise innovators and the role Australia’s peak water association has taken in fostering the ongoing involvement of industry.

Speaking to representatives of the Innovation Advisory Group (IAG) last week, the Chief Executive of the Australian Water Association (AWA), Mr Jonathan McKeown identified efforts from the R&D sector in combination with nationally coordinated reform as key factors in increasing water recycling capacity over the past 15 years from under one per cent in 2000 to nearly 30% today.

“The journey for recycling has not been easy. Major reforms have been required to the institutional, regulatory and policy frameworks within Australia’s water sector,” Mr McKeown told the representatives of key companies investing in water innovations at a breakfast co-hosted by AWA and the Centre.

“There are intrinsic risks associated with recycled water much of which creates community concern more often related to perception rather than fact. Advances in science and improved regulatory arrangements mean that risks can be managed to levels of safety that are equivalent to other supply sources, “ he said.

Mr McKeown outlined reforms in governance, costing processes and science and technology that have led to recycling to be considered a mainstream component of Australia’s water supply portfolio.

Mr McKeown said the expertise and innovation being developed by the Centre was extensive and highly applicable to issues being faced around the globe.

“The Centre and AWA continue to promote the expertise of Australia’s researchers and industry internationally. There is much demand for this know-how,” he said.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Water Recycling Centre for Excellence, Mark O’Donohue, who recently returned from discussing validation of treatment technologies with water professionals and regulators in California, encouraged Australian companies to be actively involved.

Mr O’Donohue urged industry to take a more proactive role in influencing future policy and research directions in the water sector.

“Private industry takes an extremely prominent role in influencing the research and policy outcomes in the United States and other places overseas. We are currently working with industry to more effectively draw on the substantial skills, experience and knowledge in the private sector here in Australia. ”

Mr O’Donohue said the Centre was pleased to have an opportunity to discus with private enterprise representatives the potential for commercial application of some of the outcomes of its research program.

“We have taken a business-like approach to the identification, prioritisation and exploitation of intellectual property that has arisen from our research, and look forward to continuing our discussions in the coming months,” he said.

The Centre will join with AWA to plan a further meeting of members of the AWA’s IAG in July this year. Interested members should email Jerome Moulin (jmoulin@awa.asn.au) for further information.