A new kind of resources boom is taking shape in Western Australia—renewable resources created from treated wastewater. And the Water Corporation is helping by reconceiving the buffer zone surrounding its Subiaco Wastewater Treatment Plant as a Silicon Valley style innovation precinct.
The vision for the Subiaco Strategic Resource Precinct is for a concentration of technology companies and researchers working on new approaches to wastewater treatment and resource recovery. The precinct includes the wastewater plant and the buffer zone around it. The idea is for companies and researchers in the precinct to co-develop, trial, pilot and validate activities that use wastewater outputs (such as recycled water, nutrients, sludge and biogas) or provide inputs (such as energy).
The innovation hub is one of several ideas to come from a workshop the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities facilitated together with the Water Corporation in May 2017, to generate Ideas for the Subiaco Strategic Resource Precinct. Workshop participants shared their perspective of what success could look like, and collaborated to answer the question: ‘What could the precinct be, rather than what it is now?’
Our survey of the participants following the workshop showed strong support for the vision developed for the precinct: over 91% supported the vision in full or in part, and a majority of the participants said they will benefit from workshop ideas.
Participants also praised the stakeholder engagement process:
‘The ideas presented [at the workshop] were cross sectoral and challenged the status quo. They clearly showed a willingness to embrace alternate land uses and businesses.’
‘It was the perfect arena for all stakeholders to come to the table and a pleasant surprise to find most parties of a similar mindset.’
Western Australian Water Minister Dave Kelly announced the innovation hub on 23 October:
"This new water innovation hub is an exciting opportunity for the Water Corporation to partner with industry and researchers to help deliver new and smarter technologies for the sustainable treatment of wastewater”, he said.
"Western Australia is already an innovator in this space. … I encourage research organisations and industry to bring their ideas to the Water Corporation through the Innovation Hub website and be part of this exciting new collaboration."