Praise poured on safe water studies

Flinders students Sarah Aucote and Charndeep Chahal have been recognised at this year’s State water industry awards.

Sarah Aucote won the Hodgson Medal (The Student Water Award) for her Honours work while Charndeep Chahal received a High Commendation for his PhD work at the SA Australian Water Association Awards.

Both students work with Medical Biotechnology Associate Professor Fiona Young, from the College of Medicine and Public Health at Flinders, and Paul Monis from SA Water.

Smart Monitoring for Microbial Risk Assessment, the name of Sarah’s Honours project, is investigating assays targeting mitochondrial DNA as a new and novel approach to tracking sources of faecal contamination in water supply systems.

Her research has definite potential to provide a decreased cost of performing microbial risk assessments, leading to widespread improvements in monitoring and risk management, which in turn will improve Health Based Target compliance, particularly in regional areas.


Charndeep’s PhD project, asking ‘Do particles in wastewater protect pathogens from disinfection?’ is a detailed characterisation of pathogen and particle interactions in treatment systems provides a wide and comprehensive database to draw conclusions.

This research has the potential to benefit water utilities for both water and wastewater treatment, improving the understanding of current pathogen disinfection processes and how particles can interfere with pathogen inactivation.

Matthew Flinders Distinguished Professor of Hydrogeology Craig Simmons, the director of the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training at Flinders, says both projects were important research in continual improvement in providing safe water supplies in new and existing systems.

SA Australian Water Association chief executive Jonathan McKeown says the range of award submissions highlight the “great work being carried out across all areas of the water sector in South Australia”.

“This year saw a range of award submissions from a number of water utilities, universities, research institutes and councils, with projects ranging from urban and regional utilities infrastructure, to agricultural enterprises and public health studies.

“The awards recognise the outstanding contribution of individuals and organisations in the South Australian water industry across innovation, research, infrastructure and the delivery of water projects,” Mr McKeown said.

Other 2017 winners were

  • Program Innovation Award – Adelaide Services Alliance Advanced Customer Complaint Mapping Program (Allwater and SA Water)
  • Research Innovation Award – Advanced Tertiary Ultrafiltration Management (Allwater, SA Water and SUEZ)
  • Infrastructure Project Innovation – Sundrop Farms Project, John Holland Group
  • Young Water Professional – Adam Medlock, Operations Manager, Riverland Region, TRILITY
  • Water Professional of the Year – Richard Hopkins, Chief Executive, International Centre of Excellence in Water Resources Management (ICE WaRM)

The winners of the SA Water Awards will automatically be entered into the equivalent National Australian Water Awards category, which will be presented at Ozwater’18 in Brisbane next year.

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