World-leading Australian tech to boost water quality for remote regions and create jobs

An award-winning Australian technology for water monitoring will be part of a new product that addresses monitoring and filtering of drinking water in remote Northern Territory (NT) communities, while also creating skilled local jobs.

A project led by Think Water Darwin in collaboration with Eco Detection and Terracorp Industries will deliver an integrated monitoring and filtration system for remote communities. Able to continuously monitor bore water, before and after filtration, in real-time using a sophisticated “capillary zone electrophoresis” method, the system will help ensure safe, high quality drinking water year-round.

The project aims to commercialise an innovative product designed to address water quality and monitoring issues present at over 400 locations throughout the nation – 40 per cent of which are located within remote indigenous communities. The project will also provide proactive reporting on water quality, reducing the instances of residents drinking water found to be outside the safe guideline levels for human consumption.

The project will bring together Eco Detection’s award-winning Ion-Q+ monitor, a filtration system from Think Water, and a water storage tank manufactured by Terracorp Industries. Three integrated prototype systems will then undergo six-month trials at three different remote locations to determine effectiveness and suitability for remote regions.

Supported through a $485,223 co-investment from the Northern Territory Advanced Manufacturing Ecosystem Fund (AMEF), administered by the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC), the $995,446 project, including cash and in-kind contributions, also involves input from Eco Detection’s parent company, Grey Innovation.

After successful commercialisation, 15 per cent (by value) of Melbourne-based Eco Detection’s Ion-Q+ electronic systems will be assembled in the territory, scaling up to 70 per cent in four years. It is expected that the product, proven in the demanding conditions of remote NT, will have good applicability to an issues prevalent across local and international markets.

Think Water estimates cumulative revenues of $83.5 million and 45 jobs will be achieved within five years of project completion.

To-date, nine businesses have been awarded co-investment under the AMEF program across Darwin, Katherine and Alice Springs throughout a range of industries, including heavy machinery equipment, construction and carpentry. AMEF investments are expected to create over 160 new jobs and generate over $84 million for the Territory’s economy in its first five years.

The Advanced Manufacturing Ecosystem (AME) Fund of $7.5 million seeks to build the advanced manufacturing ecosystem in the Northern Territory. The fund aims to grow advanced manufacturing capabilities and increase investment in and output of advanced manufacturing activity in the Northern Territory and grow the number of advanced manufacturing jobs located in the Northern Territory.

Northen Territory Chief Minister, Eva Lawler said: “The Territory Labor Government is attracting new innovative projects which get the Territory working and develop our communities – this is exactly what Think Water accomplishes.”

Managing Director of Think Water Darwin, Adam Stockwell said: “Clean drinking water is a fundamental requirement of life. What we aim to do with this project is develop a product suite that provides better visibility for residents and governments about the quality of the water they are being provided,

“In partnership with Eco Detect and Terracorp, we aim to take the guess work out of water quality to improve the lives of thousands of Australians and potentially more abroad via an always on monitoring solution.”

AMGC’s Northern Territory Director, Charmaine Phillips said: “Intermittent sampling is not perfect, but it becomes even less so if what’s being sampled is in a remote community, a considerable drive from the lab.

“This exciting project will automate testing, allow service providers to proactively monitor water quality, intervene earlier, and boost the creation of high-skilled manufacturing jobs in the NT. That’s wins all-around.”

Managing Director of AMGC, Dr Jens Goennemann said: “This is a compelling example of the power of collaboration. Three manufacturing businesses have brought existing skills to the table, to create something more complex that solves a serious problem, with these businesses and the remote communities they serve being winners.”

Jefferson Harcourt, Founder and CEO of Eco Detection said: “We are excited to be making a real impact with our technology and help remote communities have access to safe water that is tested continuously for harmful nitrates and other pollutants. We will test every last drop and make this data available to the local community and the Department of Health. It’s an enormous issue – there are over 400 remote communities across the nation that don’t have access to safe drinking water right now.”