We think big ideas and back them up with practical solutions. 

Read our articles, opinions and academic papers covering water policy, regulation, governance, risk mitigation, asset management and operations - written for our  peers, utility managers and policy makers.

Singapore International Water Week 2024

Annalisa Contos

In this complex and rapidly changing environment, effective risk management is essential for water utilities to continue to deliver safe services that meet customer and stakeholder expectations. Risks need not only to be assessed but managed. This paper examines the efficacy of visual tools in enhancing risk communication and understanding. Risk management is integral to water sector activities and enables prioritization of improvements, even in resource-constrained environments. While traditional spreadsheets are commonly used for risk assessment, the paper introduces two visual methods for effective risk communication: Bow-tie diagrams and Sankey diagrams.

The paper supports these techniques with three case studies, illustrating the practical applications of both bow-tie and sankey diagrams in the water sector, including water safety planning, project delivery framework improvement, and visualizing interlinks between risks in enterprise risk management systems

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Dr Annalisa Contos

IWA ASPIRE, Taiwan 2023

With the increasing complexity and uncertainty of the global business environment, utilities must ensure that their decisions are based on an accurate assessment of risk. Organizations around the world are focused on empowering and building a risk culture. The Water Authority of Fiji (WAF) recognised that developing risk appetite and tolerances with its board, was an essential step in embedding a common risk culture from the board to boots-on-the-ground activities. WAF also realised that improved organisational risk awareness and maturity, would enable their resilience and long-term success.

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OzWater 2023

Patrick Schnelle & Sally Williamson

The future is uncertain. We operate in an increasingly changing climate with more frequent and extreme shocks and stresses. Infrastructure planning based on past trends is no longer a viable option. With unprecedented drought, bushfires, floods, and high temperatures, planning for future infrastructure to maintain resilience in existing systems requires adopting an adaptive approach. This paper details an adaptive planning approach and key considerations that should be adopted and applied to drinking water treatment systems to develop long-term strategies for infrastructure investment for resilient systems and safe drinking water.

Water Industry Operators Association QLD 2022

Jar testing is a method that simulates coagulation and flocculation and can provide useful data to help operators to optimise the water treatment  processes. Jar testing can be time-consuming and require technical knowledge to assess the results. However, jar testing can be a powerful tool to save money and enhance water quality as it helps determine which treatment chemical, dosage and dose will work best with their system’s raw water.

A jar testing practical guide was developed, including experiment set-up, operational procedure and data analysis to assist operators in overcoming the main constraints of jar testing.

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AWA/IWA Australia-New Zealand YWP Conference 2022

Patrick Schnelle & Matthew Schnelle

Clients, businesses and individuals are increasingly sought out for values-driven ways of working. To successfully navigate the modern workforce, young water professionals (YWPs) need to clearly identify and articulate personal values, navigate value conflicts and use shared values to achieve common goals. During the workshop, YWPs gained understanding and skills in values driven ways of working to ‘leave their mark’. Outcomes for workshop participants included:

  1. understanding what values are and their importance in the modern workforce, and
  2. identifying key personal values and understanding how these drive actions and beliefs.

Australian Financial Review

There are many opportunities for women wanting to become engineers, but they need to be fearless about being the only woman in the room.

Dr Annalisa Contos speaks to the Australian Financial review about the challenges and rewards of a career in engineering.

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AWA Young Water Professional Conference 2020

A project was run to track the reintroduction of fluoride to the Parkes Shire Council water distribution system. The tracer study provided insight into system operation, verified the disinfection critical control point and identified opportunities for improvement in system understanding.

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AWA Source

Water engineer Dr Annalisa Contos has been a trailblazer for women in STEM and the utilities sector, and she’s finally being recognised for her work.

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Water Industry Operators Association 2020

David Bartley

Setting control limits statistically ensures that data that requires attention is highlighted to the operator to ensure action can be taken to prevent breach of CCPs or licence limits and allows continuous improvement over time.

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Water Industry Operators Association 2020

Water quality studies on the 148 km B-section pipeline including the development of P&IDs, an EPANET model and chlorine decay studies investigated improvements to the systems. Operational risk associated with the installation of a new rechlorinator  were assessed and mitigation measures developed.

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Global Water Pathogen Project

Dr Annalisa Contos, Natalie Crawford

This case study examined whether public health risks from a local government operated recycled water scheme were appropriately managed through treatment and non-treatment barriers (end user controls). The pathogen log10 reduction requirements for recycled water for a mix of uses including food crop and municipal irrigation were determined. The four recycled water plants were verified to assess if they were meeting these requirements and whether the non-treatment barriers (end user controls) were adequate

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Global Water Pathogen Project

Annalisa Contos (Atom Consulting),  Andrew Francis  and  Julian Fyfe (Parkes Shire Council)

This case study shows how to determine the required pathogen reductions for the reuse of effluent for irrigation of sports fields, golf course and community open spaces and select and design the appropriate process units to achieve the necessary pathogen reduction.

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Natalie Crawford, Dr Annalisa Contos, Claire McInnes

This research undertaken by Natalie Crawford can help utilities to identify and assess the extent of microbiological contamination risk from pipeline renewal and repair works and identify measures to manage these risks.

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Kamal Fernando Memorial Lecture Institution of Engineers Sri Lanka, NSW chapter

Dr Annalisa Contos

Human error is often cited as root cause of incidents and accidents. In this talk Dr Contos introduces key topics within the field of human factors. The talk addresses the environmental,  organisational and job factors as well as human and individual characteristics, which influence behaviour at work in a way which can affect health and safety. Drawing from examples in the water industry Dr Contos discusses how human factors are important to both process and product safety.


Information Sheet

This information sheet explains how threat-consequence or bow-tie diagrams can be used for visual risk analysis. Bow tie diagrams describe the pathways of a risk from its cause to its consequence and illustrate the barriers in place to reduce the risk (ISO/IEC 31010, 2009). The strength of bow-tie diagrams is that it goes beyond the usual risk assessment ‘snapshot’ and highlights the links between the threat, its consequences, the barriers preventing the consequence from occurring and the strengths of these barriers. In its full application it can be used to demonstrate the linkages between the barriers and the underlying management system. The highly visual nature of the diagrams are well-suited to communicating risk issues to non-specialists.


Ozwater 2015

Dr Annalisa Contos, Jessica Circosta

Although human factors have been shown to be the origin of many accidents in the water industry, they are rarely formally recognised in their approaches to water quality risk management. This paper, present by Dr Annalisa Contos at Ozwater 2015 provides a discussion for as to why human factors are not considered, which industries do recognise them and how this can be and should be incorporated into the water industry.

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AWA Water Journal September 2014

A Davison, B Burford, A Contos

This paper expands on the duties of directors and overarching corporate governance management for statutory owned corporations (SOCs) in the context of risk management. SOCs need to fully understand their operating context if they are to holistically understand and manage risks. The ‘Frameworks’ within contemporary Australian water cycle guidance, such as the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines, note that enterprises must understand their water ‘products’ from catchment to consumer to ensure that risks are properly identified and managed.

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