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Protecting against water contamination during the Commonwealth Games  

Article | Oct 31, 2018
The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018) was the largest sporting event to be staged in Australia this decade, with more than 670,000 visitors and 6,600 athletes and team officials, and a lot went on behind the scenes to ensure its success. One of the key elements was the City of Gold Coast’s (City) water quality strategy involving monitoring the network in real time to protect against the threat of contamination.

 

It is essential that all water utilities maintain clean and reliable water quality in their networks every day, but there is often increased pressure to ensure a safe supply during major events where thousands of people come to a particular city. The City created a water quality management strategy for GC2018 which involved increasing surveillance of the drinking water system during the event to ensure the continued supply of safe and reliable drinking water to all residents and visitors.

 

Chris Hocking, Manager System Control at the City, said the Gold Coast monitors water quality in accordance with the approved Drinking Water Quality Management Plan (DWQMP), with GC2018 then having additional water quality surveillance measures.

 

“Additional precautions were taken for the Commonwealth Games due to the increased global profile of the event and the potential increased risk likelihood associated with such a large event,” Mr Hocking said.

 

“The City’s drinking water distribution system stretches from Stapylton in the north to Coolangatta in the south and is comprised of approximately 3,500km of water mains. A key challenge was managing multiple events occurring simultaneously across the city.”

 

Introducing real-time monitoring to the network

 

The water quality monitoring strategy consisted of a multi-modal approach with five key components:

 

  1. Installation of online water quality monitoring at strategic locations to provide 24/7 coverage of important water quality information

  2. Increasing the scope of the verification monitoring plan, in terms of both sample frequency and the parameters monitored

  3. Increased surveillance and investigation into customer complaints

  4. Enhanced physical security and security monitoring at key water assets

  5. Public health surveillance through increased communication with the Gold Coast Public Health Unit

 

The process of implementing real-time monitoring in the network began in 2015 when the City installed seven water quality analysers by TracWater as a control measure for a project to decommission the dual reticulation system in Pimpama Coomera. An additional nine TracWater water quality analysers were installed for GC2018.

 

TracWater is an Australian company offering information-as-a-service to water utilities through battery-powered cloud-based water quality monitoring products. TracWater manufacturers its products in Queensland, allowing for a 30 per cent price advantage for Queensland tenders.

 

It supported the City through 24/7 measurement of water quality from selected sites in their distribution network and converting this into actionable information. These water quality analysers played a key role by reviewing the network for potential contaminants in real time.

 

The process of collecting daily water samples and performing sample analysis involved verification monitoring of water quality, undertaken by the City’s Scientific Services laboratory, with samples collected from 110 locations throughout the city and analysed for a range of physical, chemical and microbiological parameters.

 

Outcome highlighted need for utility monitoring

 

Mr Hocking  said having full visibility of the drinking water network and the equipment used were vital in the success of the water quality strategy.

 

“Real-time monitoring of the network formed an important part of the overall strategy. The goal of implementing a multi-modal approach was to gather information from as many sources as possible to form an accurate picture of water quality in the system,” Mr Hocking said.

  

“The installation of online water quality monitoring equipment has provided us with a better insight into our system. In particular, the ability to continuously monitor disinfection residuals has enabled us to better understand the operational variation that occurs within the system and to implement operational changes to improve water quality.”

 

Mr Hocking said as a whole the Commonwealth Games was an overwhelming success for the City of Gold Coast and they will continue to operate the existing fleet of online water quality analysers moving forward.

 

“Water quality will continue to be monitored as outlined in the DWQMP. Supplying safe and reliable drinking water and ensuring that public health is protected at all times is a key objective of the City.”