Since the drought of the early 2000s, regional Australian councils have sought alternative water supplies to supplement their natural catchments. But managing these new water sources – deciding when, where and how they can best be used – is its own challenge. For Orange City Council, however, innovative new software promises a solution.
The Pumping Operation for Alternative Water Sources (POAWS) is the result of a two-year partnership between Orange City Council and University of Adelaide researchers under the auspices of the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities (CRCWSC). The sophisticated, genetic algorithm-based tool was developed by Dr Angela Marchi, Professor Angus Simpson, Professor Martin Lambert, and Lisa Blinco of the Intelligent Water Decisions Research Group from the University’s School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering. On 23 June, the software was officially presented to Samantha McGufficke of Orange City Council and Martin Haege of Geolyse. “It will be a vital planning tool for Orange City Council to help inform decisions about the mix of water sources,” Haerge said.
Managing the distribution of water is complex: the cost of pumping must be taken into account, spills and evaporation minimised, and benefits to the surrounding waterways optimised. “A multi-objective optimisation provides an efficient way to determine good operating rules,” Professor Simpson explained.
Communication between the researchers and Orange City Council will continue over the next few months as the software is tested and adapted to the council’s system. “We hope that the POAWS software can also be useful to other councils in the future,” Professor Lambert said.
For more information on the CRCWSC’s Intelligent Urban Water Systems project: https://watersensitivecities.org.au/content/project-c5-1/