The purpose of the Water Industry Alliance (WIA) is to build an internationally competitive, export-orientated water industry made up of clusters of small to medium businesses.
The clusters facilitate the further development of the skills and knowledge which emerge from South Australia’s specific conditions (water stress, innovative companies and universities, stable government), resulting in globally competitive expertise in the some areas of the water industry. In each of these areas there are numerous companies (natural clusters) that between them make up the entire supply chain for some technologies and services that will be increasingly required around the world, as developing countries grow and the effects of climate change become more apparent.
In 2012, with the input of the South Australian Government and a clustering expert, WIA worked to drill further down into cluster specialisations. This resulted in two specialisation clusters being progressed: a managed aquifer recharge group (MARHub), and; a wastewater group (WaRDA).
South Australia has long been a leader in the research and application in the managed aquifer recharge (MAR) field. This has been reflected in the South Australian Government’s water policy ‘Water for Good’, which states that South Australia will aim to source more than 25 per cent of its water for Adelaide from storm water schemes, primarily aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) by 2050.
“South Australian companies have built expertise and global recognition in this field and have successfully implemented MAR with a range of aquifers, water sources and other constraints (for example, space). MAR is currently being used in a range of scales for urban and rural irrigation and also industrial purposes in South Australia,” Andy Roberts of the Water Industry Alliance said.
Aquifer storage and recovery, a form of MAR, creates an alternative water resource by capturing, treating (often biologically) and storing water in controlled aquifers. This water can then be pumped back out from the aquifer when required. The water that is used can be from a range of sources, but two common sources are treated, wastewater or storm-water, where the pattern of supply of the water does not fit the pattern of demand and therefore storage is necessary.
Between the South Australian-based universities and the CSIRO it has been estimated that approximately 30 per cent of the academic papers written on this field originate from South Australian-led research. The establishment of MARHub will ensure South Australia continues to lead the world in this area of expertise.
Similarly, the coordinated activities of the wastewater cluster, WaRDA, are positioning South Australia as a globally recognised hub of expertise in the field of community wastewater management systems.
“WaRDA companies specialise in the design and implementation of innovative solutions, as often in regional areas there are significant local constraints. These innovative designs provide a wide range of benefits, from improved health conditions to environmental benefits and provision of safe recreational facilities,” Mr Roberts said.
WaRDA, are industry leaders in the planning, design, construction, monitoring and maintenance of wastewater treatment plants for small communities and by helping companies work together, it’s opening doors for its members to access global markets and provide expertise worldwide.