End of Waste: How real-time data helped Urban Utilities increase biosolids economic & environmental performance

by Kim Fridman
Wave Blue
Aug 18, 2022

The Issue

In 2020 the Queensland Government introduced an End of Waste Code (EOW Code) for Biosolids under the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011, intended to actively promote recovery opportunities and transform the perception of waste as a valuable resource.   Urban Utilities generates over 200,000 tonnes of biosolids that is further processed producing 50,000 tonnes of final product each year. This is a significant transport, processing, logistics and reuse activity representing over 30% of the total cost to treat wastewater.  There are strict conditions to meet under the Code. If not proactively managed, Urban Utilities, like other utilities, could be stranded with material that cannot be disposed of using existing beneficial re-use routes, leading to regulatory compliance issues, non-beneficial reuse and more than $50M+ per annum increased costs.

Traditional management methods often have a high dependency on individuals with the requisite knowledge, while accessing and sharing data and lab test results was often difficult. Workflows and interventions to prevent unwanted contaminants were manual and subject to error, and overall practices are not supported by real-time reports and data for effective decision making. For this reason, Urban Utilities identified a need to adopt a digital platform to enhance its EOW Code assurance practices and develop whole of system active management capability.

The Solution

An alliance between Urban Utilities and WaterStart’s global technology recruitment program identified Klir as a potential solution based on its capabilities in collaboration and compliance.

Klir provides an enterprise-scale software system to manage and analyze wastewater & biosolids compliance and operational data. The Klir platform allows water professionals to manage critical processes across their entire system, from permits to sampling and inspections. With features such as automation, data analytics, and task management, Klir offers a simplified process that reduces risk, operating expenses, and administrative overhead.

In December of 2020, Klir, Urban Utilities, and WaterStart commenced a seven-month pilot to deploy the Klir compliance management solution. This pilot involved an equal share financial investment between Urban Utilities and WaterStart.

The Pilot

To ensure measurable and positive business outcomes from the partnership, Klir conducted the following:

  1. Pilot Phase: to install and configure the software across 10 Urban Utilities sites with the objective of centralizing workflows and data across all biosolids management processes, including production, logistics and dispersion. The pilot included:
    1. Assessment Stage – To develop a deep understanding of Urban Utilities’ business needs.
    2. Customization Stage – To deliver a fit-for-purpose and process-oriented platform specific to Urban Utilities’ needs including migrating data, retiring legacy systems and validating the end-to-end functionality of the solution.

Subscription Phase (initiated Sept 2021): To roll out the Klir platform as a complete utility management solution across the broader Urban Utilities organization.

The Results

Over the course of seven months, the Klir platform successfully achieved the following outcomes:

On a broader sense, the collaboration has and continues to deliver valuable business benefits, including:

  • Risk Mitigation – The Klir application allows for early intervention to eliminate the source of contamination. It does this by leveraging data feeds from SCADA and LIMS systems and warning asset operators of contaminants that are approaching or violating exceedance limits. This has enabled a focus on plants that have experienced previous contamination events.
  • Decreased costs – through increased operational efficiency; lower transportation costs; avoidance of contaminated waste disposal costs and non-compliance penalties; reallocation of staff hours from administration to higher value activities; and improved market access
  • Improved sustainability via avoidance of waste volume to landfill.
  • TIme savings – 20% less time spent on administrative reporting work allows team to focus on proactive priorities
  • Improved satisfaction, loyalty, and organizational reputation via sound biosolids management and avoiding compliance infringements.
  • Improved organizational resilience via an enterprise-wide platform for knowledge management, providing intelligence and insights for timely decisions by reducing the reliance on critical personnel.
  • Quality Insights – Data collected in the Klir platform allows users to gain key insights into biosolids product grading, dryness, and quality. Urban Utilities can set budgets against weight and cost, for accurate forecasting.
  • Compliance – Visibility into product quality supports the Urban Utilities team in their efforts to stay adapt to the new regulation.

The Klir system brings hundreds of data points together for contextual and simplified quality and cost analysis including:

  • LIMS data, SCADA Data and Biosolids Grading all in one platform.
  • Monitoring 13 Treatment Plants in total
  • Monitoring the compliance of 22 unique compounds
  • Tracking sampling records from 339 unique location points across all their treatment plants
  • Analyzing Scada data of 76 unique assets across all Treatment Plants.

Further Development

Moving forward, Klir’s platform has the ability to scale as needed to manage key functions across Urban Utilities. Capabilities available within the platform include sampling, permitting, inspections and industrial pretreatment) and more.

Urban Utilities is currently working with Klir on its wider rollout across the organization. It is planned that the platform will allow for fully digital and information integration, and potential for broader enterprise adoption for compliance assurance for products such as recycled water, effluent, and other future product streams as Urban Utilities brings them online.

About Klir

Klir’s integrated water regulatory solution helps the world’s water utilities make water safer. The Klir platform gathers, monitors and analyses regulatory compliance data, all in one easy-to-use web-based application. With it, water utilities are better equipped to quantify and mitigate the true risks to the environment and human health. It empowers them to improve their performance in addressing and managing enforcement actions issued by the Regulator and to develop more focused asset investment programmes. By providing them with a powerful way to manage all their regulatory compliance missions in one place, Klir is the ideal solution for water regulations and compliance that helps utilities capture widespread efficiency gains, while ultimately protecting the environment.

To learn more about how Klir helps teams across an entire water utility organization achieve their strategic and operational goals, visit Klir today at www.klir.io.

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