Scientist who developed cutting-edge drinking water contamination tool up for prestigious award

Scientist who developed cutting-edge drinking water contamination tool up for prestigious award

Our very own Chris Shanks is a finalist for one of the most prestigious infrastructure awards in Australasia, following his ground-breaking work that has dramatically sped up the identification of potential sources of contamination in public water supplies, in the wake of the Havelock North Campylobacter Outbreak.

Until recently, the assessment of drinking water contamination has been a slow, manual process. Very often, by the time the process, which can take months, has been completed the situation has changed and the information is out-of-date.

Chris, a specialist ground water scientist, worked with our geo-spatial team to develop an automated GIS risk assessment tool to make the process faster and more responsive. The tool interprets many layers of geographical and water data to identify and rank potential contaminant sources, then displays the results in a visual, interactive map-based viewer – making it easy for anyone to understand.

The Catchment Risk Assessment Tool is also “live”, which means that new sources of contamination are captured as they emerge. This allows Councils, CCOs and other water suppliers to have an almost real-time view of catchment risk and to see progress when risks are being managed.

The tool is at the cutting-edge of drinking water risk and protection technology and is a significant step-forward for ensuring the delivery of safe drinking water to our communities.

Chris is one of three finalists for the Hynds Paper of the Year and will present his paper outlining the tool, its application and benefits at the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA) annual New Zealand conference in December.

Congratulations Chris – this really is “making a difference”!