Welcome to our 8th newsletter for 2020. One consequence of 'working from home' during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a reduction in the use of air-conditioning systems in office buildings and shopping centres which can create conditions conducive to the growth of legionella pneumophila, the bacteria responsible for Legionnaires’ disease. This month’s research feature under the 'Safe water: access and equity' theme highlights the work of Pierre Le Clech, who in partnership with the Water Corporation of Western Australia, is working on protocols that account for a broad range of factors to assess the risk of growth and exposure to legionella. The research initially focussed on groundwater water treatment plant operators, but increasingly is of interest to companies maintaining building services.

Risk assessment is also a feature of a new project sponsored by Water Research Australia to develop guidance on the safe treatment of waste streams from water treatment plants led by Pierre LeClech and Stuart Khan. The project looks at the public health risk associated with the return and treatment of supernatant - water recovered from processing settleable solids from clarifiers and filter - back to the inlet of water treatment plants. Maximising utility of available surface water during times of drought is critical and the practice is common in the US since the release of the Filter Backwash Recycling Rule (FBRR) by the US EPA in 2002. The project is expected to produce a set of guidelines for the design and operation of supernatant recycling in water treatment plants in Australia.

During the month of August, UNSW celebrated National Science Week, by hosting 15 virtual events, including the 2020 Jack Beale Lecture presented by UNSW Centre of Ideas. This year’s lecture addressed the question, 'How do we put climate change back on the agenda during a pandemic?' and featured Emma Johnston, Dean of the Faculty of Science, and Associate Professor Adriana Vergés from the Centre for Marine Science and Innovation. Emma Johnston and Adriana Vergés are recognised for their research on marine environment as well as their ability to effectively communicate with a wide and diverse audience. The panel discussion at the Beale lecture emphasised the importance of appealing to both logical and emotional aspects of effect of climate on our lives to force action. Of course Nancy Hillier was a pioneer in encouraging engagement between the community and researchers on issues impacting Botany bay, and her legacy is celebrated and honoured each year at the Nancy Hillier lecture. The 2020 Hillier lecture is organised by John Carr, Senior Lecturer Environment & Society in the School of Humanities & Languages, and will be held on the 22nd of October. John has assembled an outstanding group of speakers including Suhelen Egan to discuss ''The Long View on Environmental and Social Justice for Botany Bay.' More details on the event may be found under our ‘Health Oceans and Resilient Coastline’ theme below.

Recent news on ‘Water Governance and Security’ activities includes the release of new book on groundwater management policies and planning tools used in both France and Australia. The book is the product of a five year collaboration between Cameron Holley of the Faculty of Law and the Connected Waters Initiative with Jean-Daniel Rinaudo of the French Geological Survey, with Steve Barnett of the South Australian Government and Marielle Montginoul of the University of Montpellier. In other news, Laura Montano Luna and Ben Modra from the Water Research Laboratory at Manly Vale completed important physical modelling work using a 1:40 scale model of the Scrivener Dam located on Lake Burley Griffin. This work is an essential component of the operational and maintenance plans that ensures the safety of this important piece of water infrastructure in Australia’s capital. And finally, Charlotte Iverach and Bryce Kelly, together with colleagues from ANSTO, completed a multi-year study flows from the Great Artesian Basin into the lower Namoi alluvium which has demonstrated that methane has migrated from the underlying coal measures into the Namoi alluvium. The project funded by the Cotton RDC is providing important open data about groundwater resources in the Namoi region at a critical time in public debate on proposed further development of gas projects on the Liverpool plains.

Notable achievements for members of the UNSW water community this month include the announcement that the NSW branch of the Australian Water Association has named Stuart Kahn as a 2020 Legend of Water, in recognition of his contributions on multiple water issues; while Emma Johnston has been announced as co-chief author of the Australian State of Environment Report 2021.
Our regular PhD profile for this month features the inspiring story of Danladi Yunana who received a prestigious UNSW Scientia PhD Scholarship to complete his doctorate on water quality and public health. Danladi has first hand experience of the importance of access to safe water. As a child in Nigeria he would walk for 30 minutes to community tap to collect water for his family. His personal journey is very inspiring. Finally, we are pleased to announce that Kate Bennett, Chief Sustainability Officer at Orocobre Limited and Alex Grant, Principal at Jade Cove Partners will present keynote presentations at the Lithium Supply Chain symposium, developed jointly with the Australian Research Council Research Hub for Integrated Energy Storage Solutions, Deakin University and Monash University. We are grateful for the support of these industry experts in what will be an important discussion on the sustainable development of the supply chain for this important energy storage technology.

Once again thank you for your continued interest and support of the UNSW Water Community
Prof Greg Leslie
Director, UNSW Global Water Institute
Safe Water and Access for All
Assessing the risk of legionella exposure in groundwater treatment plants
Building on the Legionella High Level Risk Assessment Initiative (LHLRAI) developed by Water Corporation Western Australia, a team of researchers at UNSW, led by Pierre Le-Clech from the School of Chemical Engineering, aims to further quantify the potential of Legionella exposure.
Towards safer management of supernatant return in drinking water plants
Water Research Australia has recently recognised the need for research on the health risks associated with supernatant return, and has awarded a project to A/Prof Pierre Le-Clech and Prof Stuart Khan from the Schools of Chemical Engineering and of Environmental Engineering.
Healthy Oceans and Resilient Coastlines
We still need to talk about climate change
How do we put climate change back on the agenda during a pandemic? Scientists and science communicators helped answer this question during National Science Week. Panellists discussed ways to make climate change communications more impactful, what we can learn from COVID-19 and how to remain hopeful about the planet’s future.
The long view on environmental and social justice for Botany Bay
This year’s Hillier lecture will provide an opportunity to reflect on the past, present, and future of work on environmental and social justice issues in and around Botany Bay from the perspectives of researchers with the University of New South Wales. The lecture will be held online on the evening of 22 October.
Water Governance and Security
Scale model constructed to test stabiity of Scrivener Dam
A recent inspection identified potential for undesirable uplift forces under the stilling basin slab at Canberra's Scrivener Dam, triggering a more detailed assessment of dam stability. UNSW’s Water Research Laboratory (WRL) was commissioned by the National Capital Authority to construct and test a 1:40 scale physical model at the Manly Vale campus, to be used as part of the overall risk assessment for Scrivener Dam to ensure its ongoing safe operation.
Impact of groundwater discharge from the Great Artesian Basin
Recently published research from UNSW and ANSTO has advanced knowledge about the importance and impact of groundwater discharge from the Great Artesian Basin into the lower Namoi alluvium. The research has also revealed that methane has migrated from the underlying coal measures into the Namoi alluvium.
New book compares French and Australian groundwater policies
A new book authored by Professor Cameron Holley, Jean-Daniel Rinaudo, Steve Barnett and Marielle Montginoul explores the groundwater management policies and planning tools used in both France and Australia, and how they may inform and benefit their peers in other countries.
In the spotlight
Stuart Khan named 2020 Legend of Water
Stuart Khan has been named by the Australian Water Association as one of the NSW Legends of Water for 2020. Stuart will attend the official event in Sydney on 10th December 2020 to be formally recognised for being committed to creating a sustainable water future, being a faithful supporter of the water industry and striving every day to solve the water issues of today and tomorrow.
Australian State of the Environment Report co-chiefs appointed
Two of Australia’s most distinguished environmental scientists together with an international authority on Indigenous cultural and intellectual property have been appointed as co‑chief authors of the 2021 National State of the Environment Report. Dean of UNSW Science Professor Emma Johnston is among an expert team conducting a five‑yearly independent review on the state of the Australian environment.
In Profile
Introducing Danladi Yunana, PhD Student
Danladi Yunana grew up without access to water in his home. Instead, he regularly walked for 30 minutes to fill containers from the community tap, taking them home for his family to use sparingly for drinking, bathing and cleaning. Despite having to miss many days of school due to the community tap being out of order, Danladi has been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to pursue a rewarding and fulfilling career.
Upcoming events
Lithium Supply Chain keynote speakers announced
Four keynote speakers have been announced for the 2020 Symposium on Lithium Supply Chain for a Green and Mobile Energy Future. The speakers are Daniel Jimenez, Civil Industrial Engineer, MBA; Alexander Grant, Principal, Jade Cove Partners; Huanting Wang, Monash University and Kate Bennett, Sustainable Development Specialist. The abstract submission deadline for the 2020 Symposium on Lithium Supply Chain for a Green and Mobile Energy Future has now been extended to 1 October.
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