Aqualutions – Kiwi invention world first to manage water discharge

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Read the published version in Canterbury Today here

What’s the harm in a bit of dirt in the water that contractors discharge from worksites?

Besides the ecological harm – it’s a regulatory minefield for property developers, quarries, and infrastructure projects. Up until now, it’s been an issue that could not be easily, immediately or economically measured, let alone managed.

Mark Tipper, a senior compliance officer for Environment Canterbury, saw firsthand the frustration and inability of contractors to get real time and cost effective data around sediment discharges.  Without this data, contractors were left in a very tenuous position.

“There was no simple tool or method to effectively manage water discharge quality that provided reliable real-time data,” Mark says. Being an ingenious bloke, and after more than two years of development, he left his job to dedicate his time to Sedimate. It’s a tool which appears simple to use – and it is, says Mark. However, the intellectual property and science behind the small device is a world-first, and his recent patenting of Sedimate has confirmed that there is no tool like this anywhere else.  Since its recent release onto the market it has quickly been recognised as an effective way for worksites to quickly and specifically gauge the sediment in their discharges of water.

Davie Lovell-Smith director and engineer, Andy Hall says Sedimate is a  cost effective and remarkably simple tool. “It’s a tool that contractors can quickly associate with and use for continual and real-time monitoring. It enables us to proactively manage compliance with sediment discharges from our developments. It is reliable and removes the doubt and delays traditionally associated with water quality management.

“It’s a tool we will be using in all situations where quality standards need to be carefully managed,” he adds.

Environment Canterbury also recognises Sedimate as a way for contractors to safeguard the quality of our urban streams and rivers.

So how does this simple tool work? 

Each Sedimate unit is individually tailored to the unique combination of soil types and discharge quality expectations at a specific location. A sample of sediment laden water is collected from the worksite and after laboratory testing and treatment, is used in the construction of the robust Sedimate unit. Each unit is uniquely calibrated and catalogued then delivered to the worksite.

It’s then a simple matter of collecting samples and visually comparing them to the control samples.  Discharge samples can be gauged as often as required by on-site personnel. No special training or personal protection equipment (PPE) is required. As an additional option, collected samples can be labeled and kept as a compliance record, if required.

“The ability to instantly assess the quality of your discharge, at any given time and as often as required, provides invaluable information to the responsible manager. This tool has been extensively tested and has proven to be exceptionally reliable.

“Equally important, it promotes confidence in the discharge quality management for the regulatory authority.”

In addition, treatment systems incorporating water quality controls, such as flocculants, can be adjusted quickly according to your Sedimate gauging results.

“This has the potential to reduce on-going maintenance costs, or avoid over-dosing or under-dosing of products such as flocculants. Treatment systems can be tailored to ensure discharge quality limits are consistently met,” Mark explains.

The cost of each Sedimate unit is low, the cost of not getting one is high. “Poorly managed sediment discharges represent a significant risk not only to the environment, but to those responsible,” Mark says.

“Direct enforcement action following uncontrolled sediment discharges can have both immediate and long-lasting costs and effects. Infringement and/or prosecution fines are an immediate cost. Abatement Notices to cease work until a discharge is appropriately managed can cost tens of thousands of dollars in lost time, plus the potential costs of clean-up operations. Not to mention the reputation risk,” he adds.

Sedimate is ideally suited to be used across New Zealand on various worksites including mines, subdivisions, gravel extractions and washing plants, dewatering and roadwork sites. Internationally, Sedimate is at the cutting edge of proactive water quality compliance. www.aqualutions.co.nz