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Case Studies

The Demand For Clean Water

June 27 2018

We can perhaps be forgiven for thinking we can simply turn on a tap and fresh, clean water comes out, and that little or nothing needs to happen between the dams and our taps to get that clean water – after all we live in Australia.

The truth is that while we do live in Australia there are a lot of factors which can and do affect the quality of our water and as a consequence the amount of treatment that our water needs to undergo before we can use it.

What do we mean by water quality?

According to Wikipedia, water quality “refers to the chemical, physical, biological and radiological characteristics of water. It is a measure of the condition of water relative to the requirements of one or more biotic species and/or to any human need or purpose.”

Where do we get our water from?

There are 4 main sources of water

  • Dams
  • Aquifers
  • Desalination
  • Grey / waste / recycled

Dams

As we all know, dams are rainfall dependent. Total potential storage capacity of water in dams is 80,860 gigalitres and this has not changed in over 30 years.

While we have a total rainfall volume of around 4,000,000 gigalitres / year in Australia, we only capture and use around 2690 gigalitres.

Aquifers (Ground Water)

Underground aquifers are recharge dependent, what this means is that some of the rain that falls seeps through the ground until it reaches the aquifers. Whilst groundwater is present throughout Australia, much of it is too saline for drinking or agricultural purposes. This is particularly the case in internally draining arid and semi-arid regions where evaporation considerably exceeds rainfall. Here, the low levels of salts that are naturally present in rainfall become concentrated during recharge through the processes of evaporation and transpiration, leading to low recharge rates and the gradual accumulation of salt in the landscape. Ancient groundwater resources that have long flow paths are also often salty. Here, the groundwater picks up salts from the dissolution of minerals as it passes through the aquifers. (p6, Groundwater in Australia, The National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training)

Desalination

In simple terms, seawater desalination is the removal of salt and impurities from seawater to produce fresh water whilst reliable and independent of fluctuating rainfall, it is a costly process with high energy demand and maintenance required and for obvious reasons the plants need to be close to the source water.

Grey / Waste/ Recycled Water

There are two types of wastewater:

Greywater and blackwater.

  • Greywater is wastewater from non-toilet plumbing fixtures such as showers, basins and taps.
  • Blackwater is water that has been mixed with waste from the toilet.

Each wastewater type must be treated differently for example. Blackwater requires biological or chemical treatment and disinfection before reuse.

FACTORS AFFECTING WATER QUALITY

As we mentioned at the beginning, there are many factors which affect the quality of water, these include many microbiological, chemicals and physical properties. More specifically:

  • Naturally Occurring Contaminants: Salts and Nutrients from surrounding landscape and geology (Salinity)
  • Point Source Activities: Cross contamination with sewage discharge, mine & industrial waste
  • Diffuse Source Activities: Land clearing and cultivation for urban and agricultural development
  • Turbidity: The amount of total suspended solids in the water
  • Fewer flow events and floods: These naturally clean and flush the rivers. However…
  • Turbidity increases after rainfall and flooding because of soil erosion
  • Sedimentation can smother water plants causing lack of aeration
  • Suspended sediments also absorb and transport nutrients, heavy metals, pesticides and other chemicals
  • Age of ground water systems: Water contained in these sources are stored for thousands of years so any contamination has long-lasting impacts.

Consequently, the need to clean the water is immense – so how do we get clean water?

Before we move into the treatment of water, it should be noted that there are two types of water –

Drinking (Potable) and Non-Potable Water.

Potable water is intended primarily for human consumption but it also has other domestic uses such as bathing and showering. It may be consumed directly as it comes from the tap or indirectly in beverages or food that have been prepared with water and must adhere to the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

Non- Potable water is not treated in the same way as for human consumption and domestic usage and is strictly controlled and regulated by the Department of Health.

Drinking Water Treatment

There are a variety of treatment systems that can remove contaminants in drinking water. However, not all treatment systems are able to remove both microbiological and chemical contaminants and a combination of different treatment systems may be required.

Allied Pumps have been specialising in and innovating purpose-built and complete water package pumping, storage and treatment solutions locally, nationally and internationally. When it comes to hydraulic services equipment, we’re the preferred provider for pumping, storage and treatment nationally.

It’s our vision to improve quality of life for our community, while safeguarding the sustainability of our most precious resource, water. It’s our mission to safe guard the future by contributing to the protection of the environment. That’s why we promote water conservation and increased availability, while encouraging safe and sensitive applications.

Please contact us for more information on our Water Treatment Systems

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