Groundwater makes up approximately 17% of accessible water resources and accounts for over 30% of our total water consumption.

There is a heavy reliance on groundwater by townships, farms and mines across Australia.

The makeup of this groundwater, however, varies considerably. Only about 30% of Australia’s groundwater is potable.

Salinity is one major factor limiting groundwater use. From brackish to highly saline, groundwater can even be saltier than sea water. Additionally, the presence of high levels of dissolved chemicals and heavy metals within the groundwater indicate treatment is needed to ensure the water is drinkable.

As such, water quality testing is critical if groundwater is to be used for anything from irrigation to livestock and human consumption.

Testing

Common testing includes acidity; which looks for aquatic organisms, turbidity; which measures suspended particulate matter, nitrate, phosphate, pesticides, metals and salinity to name a few.

Typical tests includes:

  • pH
  • Temperature
  • Dissolved oxygen
  • Electrical conductivity (EC)
  • Escherichia coli
  • Biological oxygen demand (BOD)
  • Heavy metals
  • Poly-aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
  • Total Recoverable Hydrocarbons (TRH)
  • Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene and Xylene (BTEX)
  • Faecal Coliforms

These tests need to be part of a regular and consistent testing regime that involves time constraints and temperature control.

Filtration

The methods of filtration and treatment required to ensure the water is suitable for human consumption are dictated by the results of these tests.

A number of filtration systems are available and are used depending on the source water and test results. Typically a series of filters are used, progressing from the coarsest to the finest.

Groundwater by its nature often requires the finest filters to ensure removal of bacteria, viruses, heavy metals and salts.

These include:

  • Ultrafiltration: Filter pore size 0.01 micron
  • Nanofiltration: Filter pore size 0.001 micron
  • Reverse Osmosis: Filter pore size 0.0001 micron

There are other types of filtration effective in removing water polluting particulate matter, such as sands, screens and multimedia filters. UV disinfection by ultraviolet irradiation removes most bacteria, whilst chlorine disinfection is effective against harmful bacteria.

All of these solutions have their place and can be effective for a variety of applications. Once again it’s important to ensure the correct systems are put in place in relation to both testing and achieving the required water quality output.

Challenges

In Australia the minimum standard for drinking water is outlined by the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG).

Part of the challenge in more remote locations is addressing the cost and availability of power to drive the appropriate water treatment needed. A major issue has been that if a system is energy intensive, you have to have established power infrastructure in place.

The Innovative Alternative

Advanced technology, coupling renewable power and small-scale water treatment, has removed the reliance on static infrastructure and is changing the way clean drinking water is delivered to communities.

One ground breaking option is a containerised, all-in-one, stand-alone powered water treatment plants that can be delivered to virtually any site across the globe.

Remote communities with access to groundwater now have alternate options to expensive capital investments, trucked water, or simply a reliance on substandard drinking water.

With industry working more and more with innovative technologies, we can provide clean drinking water for everyone.

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