The overall aim of this project is to deliver low-cost and low energy-consuming water treatment technologies that can be embedded in the urban landscape to produce fit-for-purpose water from a variety of sources, including stormwater and greywater.

The project addresses critical gaps in existing national research efforts on urban water security, where decentralised fit-for-purpose water production provides an excellent opportunity to sustainably, reliably and cost effectively meet growing demands for water of appropriate quality by complementing centralised water supply systems.

The main objectives of this project include:

  1. Development of new sustainable technologies for stormwater and greywater treatment, focusing on novel and passive technologies for pathogen and chemical removal that can in many cases be incorporated into urban landscapes.
  2. Development of validation methods and operational monitoring regimes for sustainable low-tech passive treatment systems, which are applicable at a range of scales and targeted for both pathogens and chemicals of concern to human health.
  3. Development of guidance manuals and hand-over manuals for operators and end users for passive fit-for-purpose treatment systems.


  • City of Monash

Project outcomes

Project deliverables:

  • Testing, validation of refinement of first batch of technology prototypes is completed.
  • Training, implementation and operation support materials for first batch of technologies ready for implementation is complete.
  • Development of second batch of novel technologies for distributed water production has commenced.
Details of project activities at The University of Queensland

Development of a novel treatment system – Electrochemical Oxidation (ECO) of greywater for toilet flushing and garden irrigation

The aim is to combine adsorption and electrochemical oxidation for the treatment of greywater to produce water fit for garden irrigation and toilet flushing. The ECO system has been developed and used for the treatment of synthetic greywater under three different configurations:

  1. Adsorption onto activated carbon (AC system).
  2. Electrochemical oxidation on an anode (2D system), and
  3. Combined adsorption and electrochemical oxidation using the anode and the activated carbon bed material (3D system).

The removal of COD, TOC, turbidity and colour has been studied. As well, the disinfection capacity by detection of E. coli, Clostridium perfringens spores and somatic coliphages is being determined. These organisms are indicator microorganisms for pathogenic bacteria, protozoa and viruses respectively.

Good log removals of the bacteria and virus are being achieved by the 2D and the 3D system, but not by the AC system. Regarding the chemical removal, the 3D system showed good performance with removal efficiencies up to 90% for COD, TOC and turbidity, and 100% colour. While the AC system achieved removals of up to 40% for all the parameters.

Development of a novel microbial community approach to assess performance of novel water treatment systems – developing the PMA-NGS method.

This work aims to develop a framework that uses microbial community profiles to assess the performance of novel water treatment systems, for example the ECO system described above as a new measure of the active microbial community. Next-generation sequencing (NGS), followed by bioinformatics, can provide information about the entire microbial community within water systems. However, a main drawback of any molecular-based method is that they do not provide any information on the infectivity/viability of the detected microorganisms, DNA will be detected from both living and dead cells. Recently, coupling molecular methods with propidium monoazide (PMA) has the potential to simultaneously overcome these shortfalls. PMA is a DNA/RNA intercalating dye that penetrates cells with a damaged membrane/wall and prevents subsequent PCR amplification of the target DNA; therefore viability is assessed based on membrane integrity.

Consequently, we are using a PMA-NGS approach to test whether the community profiles can be used to assess the pathogen removal capabilities of greywater and stormwater treatment systems. Additionally, the community profiles could be useful for ongoing operational monitoring providing more detailed information about the systems performance and detection of failure.

We will compare the PMA-NGS technique with standard methods that test for indicator microorganisms (such as E. coli, spores of Clostridium perfringens and somatic coliphages). The approach is being used to assess the performance of a wetland system treating stormwater in Victoria, and the laboratory Electrochemical Oxidation system and a Brisbane Office Building system both treating greywater.



  • Zhang, K., Page, D., Deletic, A., McCarthy, D. (2015) Validation Framework for Water-Sensitive Urban Design Treatment Systems. Water Journal of the Australian Water Association volume 42, issue 6.
  • Zhang, K., Valognes, V., Page, D., Deletic, A., & McCarthy, D. (2016).Validation of stormwater biofilters using in-situ columns. Science of the Total Environment, 544, 48-55.
  • Zhang K, Deletic A, Page D, McCarthy D. (2015). Surrogates for herbicide removal in stormwater biofilters. Water Research 81(0): 64-71.
  • Zhang K, Randelovic A, Aguiar L, Page D,  McCarthy D, Deletic A (2015).Methodologies for Pre-Validation of Biofilters and Wetlands for Stormwater Treatment. PLoS ONE 10(5): e0125979.
  • Li, Y., McCarthy, D. T. & Deletic, A. (2016). Escherichia coli removal in copper-zeolite-integrated stormwater biofilters: Effect of vegetation, operational time, intermittent drying weather. Ecological Engineering, 90, 234-243.

Conference proceedings (Oral Presentations)

  • E. Andres, J. Keller, M. Agullo, W. Gernjak, J. Radjenovic (2015). Decentralized grey-water treatment system based on electrochemical oxidation. EAIT Postgraduate Conference 2015. Brisbane, 10 June 2015.
  • E. Andres, J. Keller, M. Agullo, W. Gernjak, J. Radjenovic (2015). Development of a novel decentralized grey-water treatment system based on electrochemical oxidation. 1st Meeting of Chilean scientists in Brisbane. Brisbane, 31 July 2015.
  • E. Andres, M. Agullo, P. Bond, W. Gernjak, J. Keller, J. Radjenovic (2015). Novel decentralized water treatment system based on combined adsorption and electrochemical oxidation 2015 Third Chilean Graduate Student Conference. Melbourne, 22-23 October 2015 – Best presentation award winner.
  • J. Jung, H. Fowdar, D. McCarthy, R. Henry, A. Deletic (2015). Pathogen removal by biofilter for greywater reuse Its potential and future direction for fit-for-purpose water production. Brisbane, 8-9 September 2015.
  • R. Henry, C. Schang, M. Edmunds, J. Schmidt, R. Coleman and D.T McCarthy. Evaluation of a hybrid, extraction-free MPN-PCR method for detection of Campylobacter in estuarine waters. Rotorua New Zealand, 1-5 November 2016.

Poster presentations

  • H. Fowdar , J. Jung., B. Hatt, P. BREEN, P. COOK, D.T. MCCARTHY, R. HENRY, A. DELETIC. (2015) Extending the use of bioretention systems – their potential for ‎greywater harvesting ‎.  Stormwater Victoria, 5-7 May, 2015 RACV Cape Schanck Resort, Mornington Pennisula, Victoria.
  • E. Andres, J. Keller, M. Agullo, W. Gernjak, J. Radjenovic (2014). Combined adsorption and electrochemical oxidation in a 3D reactor for wastewater treatment. CRC Water Sensitive Cities Conference 2014. Melbourne, 21-23 October 2014 – Poster.
  • E. Andres, M. Agullo, P. Bond, W. Gernjak, J. Keller, J. Radjenovic (2015). Decentralized grey-water treatment system based on electrochemical oxidation. 2nd CRC Water Sensitive Cities Conference. Brisbane, 8-9 September 2015 – Poster.


  • K. Zhang. Framework for the validation of micropollutant removal in passive stormwater treatment systems, PhD thesis, 2016, Monash University.


  • Elisabet Andres Garcia - Distinguished award at the 2015 Singapore Scientific Conference. Singapore, 16-17 September 2015
  • Elisabet Andres Garcia - Best presentation at the 2015 Third Chilean Graduate Student Conference. Melbourne, 22-23 October 2015

Project members

Professor Zhiguo Yuan

Centre Dir & ARC Laureate Fellow
Australian Centre for Water and Environmental Biotechnology

Other members

  • Associate Professor David McCarthy, Project Leader, Monash University
  • Dr Miriam Agullo-Barcelo
  • Dr Rebekah Henry, Research Fellow, Monash University
  • Dr Kefeng Zhang, Research Fellow, Monash University
  • Juri Jung, PhD student, Monash University
  • Elisabet Andres Garcia

Ms Casey Huang

Research Scholar