Last year, we celebrated our Research and Development (R&D) program turning 20!

The program has seen over 550 projects rigorously researched, tested and delivered, including Kep, Australia’s first leak detection dog.

Perth Seawater Desalination Plant

Built in 2006, Perth Seawater Desalination Plant in Kwinana is the first large scale plant in Australia.

In response to declining rainfall, we acknowledged the urgent need for a climate resilient water source. Together with Curtin University and CSIRO, we launched a project to assess the impacts and benefits of introducing desalinated water to our water supply network.

The results of this study went on to play a key part in identifying and eliminating any potential risks associated with the use of desalinated water as drinking water.

Investment in desalination has been vital to help secure Perth’s water supply in response to climate change. Following the construction of our second desalination plant in Binningup in 2011, desalinated seawater now makes up nearly half of Perth’s drinking water supply.

We continue to revisit this research area to investigate new technologies and advancements, as demand for water increases and to ensure we’re protecting the environment.

Replenishing groundwater supplies

In 2003, water recycling was put on the agenda to help address the growing issue of declining water availability. Recharging wastewater back into our groundwater supplies became a genuine consideration to secure our long-term water supply. This research was fundamental to understanding and responding to the key social, technical and environmental challenges associated with what we now call groundwater replenishment.
By 2006, planning was well underway to trial groundwater replenishment at Beenyup Wastewater Treatment Plant in Craigie. Today, our first full-scale Groundwater Replenishment Scheme is operating at full capacity, producing an impressive 28 gigalitres a year. That’s equivalent to over 16,880 Olympic size swimming pools.

Biosolids – a renewable resource from wastewater sludge

Animal manures have long been used in agricultural land use to improve soil condition and promote plant growth. In the early 1900s, the farming community began to use wastewater sludge from wastewater
treatment plants for the same purpose.

In the early 2000s, we began research with UWA, Curtin and a number of other national research partners, looking at the nutrient quality and benefits of this sludge and how it can be safely used. Research continues as new farming practises and quality standards develop.

We now aim to recover 100% of wastewater sludge from our Perth metropolitan wastewater resource facilities, for treatment and use as biosolids. Biosolids are a highly beneficial, renewable natural resource that can be used to improve WA’s sandy soils for agricultural purposes, forestry, and composting.

Looking to the future

Climate change means we need to continue to research and develop new technologies and innovations to ensure we continue to provide water, wastewater and drainage services to our communities throughout our great state of WA.