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Gippsland Water supports PhD student’s award-winning project

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Will McCance PhD student award winner 2020.jpg

Gippsland Water supports PhD student’s award-winning project

Gippsland Water is thrilled to have helped support RMIT PhD student Will McCance with his project, Novel groundwater co-tracers for delineating groundwater contamination from wastewater treatment plant. The project won at the 2020 Australasian Land & Groundwater Association (ALGA) Annual Industry Excellence Awards this week.

Will’s project looked at how wastewater treatment plant operators can use groundwater tracers to better understand the impact of the plant on the local environment.

It addresses the challenges water corporations face in understanding whether environmental impacts are due to the treatment plant, or are due to other factors, such as surrounding agricultural land users.

The Surf Coast-based student started the project in July 2017 and will submit his completed thesis this month.

Will said he began researching the topic of assessing groundwater impacts of treatment plants after seeing “first hand” the difficulties of monitoring it, as a consultant in the industry.

“I was keen to explore this further and see what options there may be to help address this issue and assist plant operators and practitioners in navigating these challenges,” he said.

The project involved regular monitoring at a study site at one of South East Water’s water recycling plants, during which samples were collected for analysis.

Will said he hoped the project would provide wastewater treatment plant operators and practitioners with a set of tools to help to better identify contamination in complex environments.

“I hope that this project can be used to help foster long-term relationships between researchers, professionals and industry partners so we can continue to progress our knowledge and understanding of our impacts on the environment.”

Will said it was “humbling” to be announced as the winner of the category ‘Innovation that has advanced the practice of contaminated site assessment’ at the ALGA’s Annual Industry Excellence Awards.

“I can safely say that I never would have predicted this when I started the project over three years ago and is a credit to all those involved along the way.

“Being an industry-based collaboration, this project shows how researchers and industry partners can come together to help address real life problems.”

The project was supported by RMIT, CRC CARE, Gippsland Water, Melbourne Water, South East Water, Western Water and Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).

In addition to providing funding, Gippsland Water also provided industry support and guidance to ensure the project had real life applications.

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