Innovation is the name of the game!


Happy new year everyone! The Current is back for 2016, and we are excited to explore the latest water and environmental issues, policies, technologies with you, as well as keep you updated with the latest projects keeping Essential Environmental out of mischief!

And to start the year off we thought we would follow our most intrepid Prime Minister’s lead and cash in on the latest industry buzzword: Innovation.

And why not since it is innovative ideas which allow us to change the way we do things to be more effective, more efficient and solve problems previously considered impossible to the benefit of our society. Who doesn’t want that?

Innovation can relate to new technologies, operational processes, services, business/economic/social models, or just the method in which we approach things. Without innovation we would still be stuck in 18th century conditions without electricity, running water piped to our houses, or antibiotics and vaccines. It would still take Australians 3 months to travel to Europe by boat (the pure horror). So innovation has been to critical to allowing us to live longer, healthier and more comfortable lives (although these outcomes have clearly not been distributed equally amongst everyone).

Now that innovation is back on the Australian radar (the Government has even invested almost $1.1 billion in an ‘ideas boom’ over the next four years to promote business-based research, development and innovation), here are a few cool examples of what has recently been developed in the water/environment sector to inspire you for this year:

  • The ocean-friendly seabin – a water filtering system designed to clean contained marine environments (yacht clubs, marinas and ports). These seabins sucks water into a removable catch bag by pump and brings surrounding rubbish, oil and detergent along for the ride. It also includes an optional water-oil separator. The sea bin was designed by two Australian surfers sick of navigating floating rubbish!
  • San Francisco-based WaterFX  is using solar panels to remove the salt from drainage water from farms in California’s Central Valley. The company’s test facility can produce up to 8 gallons per minute of pure water from the saline discharge! Their next task is encouraging farmers to reuse treated drainage water and reduce their use of municipal water facilities – critical in California’s current drought environment.
Solar thermal troughs power to distill and process 'waste' water (drainage, industrial, or saline water) into a reliable freshwater source (Source:

Solar thermal troughs power the distillation and processing of ‘waste’ water (drainage, industrial, or saline water) into a reliable freshwater source (Source:

  • Sourcing renewable power from the ocean’s waves – The Perth Wave Energy Project is the world’s first commercial-scale wave energy array that is connected to the grid and is the only wave project to produce both power and freshwater via desalination. Carnegie Wave Energy installed three CETO 5 units Garden Island in WA in late 2014 and were in operation for over 13,000 cumulative hours. The project produced and sold both power and freshwater to the Australian Department of Defence to supply Australia’s largest naval base.
The CETO Unit - a fully submerged buoy tethered to a pump on the seabed (Source:

The CETO Unit – a fully submerged buoy tethered to a pump on the seabed (Source:

 Essential Environmental is getting in on the action and encouraging innovation in the urban development industry with respect to water management – our very own Shelley Shepherd will be presenting at the Urban Development Institute of Australia’s innovation forum on 17th February  – Innovation 2016. Get along to hear Shelley discuss the challenge of managing separation distances from groundwater in areas of high water tables! Further information regarding this event is available in this brochure.

Organisations such as the Australian Water Association are also getting involved through their Innovation Incubator program, and their 2016 Water Innovation Forum (to be held on 10-11th March in Sydney).

So NOW is the time to get inspired, and creative and invest in innovation in any one of a variety of ways in order  – it just takes an attitude of openness, drive, and individuals to take advantage of the investment in science to create better social and environmental outcomes for our communities.

And on that note…………….

may the firce be with you