PONDS project ripples out to involve researchers across Australia

Published:14 March 2014

Researchers Dr Steven Melvin and Dr Scott Wilson

Two CQUniversity researchers are involved with a large collaborative 'PONDS' project which aims to boost the treatment efficiency of wastewater treatment ponds in rural and remote Australia.

Project participant Steven Melvin is a CQUniversity Postdoctoral Research Fellow who is aligned with the Gold Coast-based Smart Water Research Centre (SWRC), which is serving as a research hub for the project.

Dr Melvin and his CQUni Gladstone Campus colleague Dr Scott Wilson are covering the ecotoxicology aspects and are also representing CQUniversity on the project.

"Wastewater Stabilisation Ponds (WSPs) are cost effective options that are widely used around the world for treating domestic sewage, but there has not been much research aimed at understanding or improving removal of human microbes and pathogens, chemical contaminants, or other factors such as nutrient loads from these systems," Dr Melvin says.

"To reach this goal, the project includes a number of experts in the fields of ecotoxicology, microbiology, hydrodynamic modelling, and human risk assessment to provide a comprehensive assessment of the ponds.

"The SWRC is serving as a research hub for the project, as this is the affiliation of the Principal Investigator Dr Helen Stratton.

"There are currently researchers from CQUniversity, University of the Sunshine Coast, and Griffith University working side-by-side out of the SWRC, and involvement of others from Charles Darwin University and Queensland University of Technology.

"There are also several industrial partners in the water industry, spanning from Victoria to Darwin. It's a really great example of multidisciplinary collaborative research aimed at a common goal that will benefit responsible water management in Australia, and globally."

Dr Melvin says the researchers have done field trials in Queensland, and have also carried out extensive sampling at a remote Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory.

"Future trips are also planned to a Victoria pond, as well as another visit to the Northern Territory," he said.