To protect the health of people and the environment, technologies used in water treatment need to meet the various performance targets specified in Australian water quality management guidelines.
Currently across Australia, there is no consistent approach to validating treatment technologies against these guidelines. Following extensive consultation with industry, the WaterVal framework and tools were developed to streamline technology validation.
Following industry consultation facilitated by the Australian Water Recycling Centre of Excellence it was agreed that a national validation framework be developed for recycled water to demonstrate compliance with the Australian Guidelines for Water Recycling (2006) (AGWR). Initially, WaterVal was developed as a national validation framework for treatment technologies used in recycled water treatment. However, the industry quickly recognised that WaterVal is applicable to water treatment more generally and has supported the development of specific protocols for technologies also used in drinking water and other forms of water treatment.
The recognition of streamlining, national consistency and efficiency gains in regulatory approval processes was one of the key drivers identified by industry as a benefit of a national technology validation framework.
While validation of treatment technology is part of the Australian water quality management guidelines (drinking and recycled water), there was no agreed process for national recognition of treatment technology validation studies undertaken either overseas or as part of approval processes within Australia. Additionally, there is limited consistency among Australian jurisdictions on specific validation requirements for some common and more novel individual treatment technologies used in recycling and drinking water management. In addition, new validation testing often replicates work on similar or identical technologies in other jurisdictions.
As a consequence, there has been some duplication of effort between regulators across jurisdictions, additional cost for private technology manufacturers and water utilities, and possibly unnecessary delays in project approvals and commissioning of projects.
These costs and delays have been identified by the water industry (public and private sectors) as an obstacle to innovation, and cost-effective water treatment and supply management, particularly for smaller regional utilities and small to medium private technology manufacturers for whom the red-tape of regulation becomes a barrier.