Adelaide water quality scientists using world-class DNA technology in Australian first

02 June 2017

SA Government: Scientists at the Australian Water Quality Centre (AWQC) have become the first in the Australian water industry to use internationally renowned DNA analysing equipment for more efficient and targeted water treatment.

Two new pieces of equipment – the ION Chef and the ION S5 – create DNA chips and unique barcodes for organisms found in water source samples, providing more detailed and reliable information than any water quality lab in Australia has previously used.

The AWQC is a business unit of SA Water that provides a range of specialist water and sewerage expertise such as sampling, analysis, advice and research to other Australian and international water companies.


While similar technology is being used by hospitals across the country for cancer and genetics research, the AWQC is the first in Australia to adopt this technology for water quality management.

Using advanced robotic equipment, researchers are able to take a simple water sample and determine exactly what organisms, including vertebrates, native fish, and bacteria have been in contact with that water source.

The equipment is helping to detect good bacteria in samples from SA Water’s Glenelg and Christies Beach Wastewater Treatment Plants, which is used to enhance the treatment of sewage before it is recycled or goes out to sea.

Instead of catching fish or wading in the water with nets and trays, all researchers need to do now is collect about a litre of source water and take it back to SA Water labs for testing.

For more information, including on whether this service would be suitable for an individual consumers’ or business’ needs, visit the Australian Water Quality Centre website,

Quotes attributable to Water and the River Murray Minister Ian Hunter

Knowing more about what’s in water sources enables better informed decisions on how to treat the water before it’s supplied to customers.

There are already rigorous treatment processes in place at our plants across the state but this new technology allows a more targeted approach.

This leading-edge technology is an example of why AWQC is winning business interstate, including two recent contracts the centre has won for ongoing work with water utilities in Tasmania and Victoria.

Quotes attributable to SA Water Senior Manager of Laboratory Services Karen Simpson

It’s very useful to know the diversity and abundance of aquatic life in water sources, as they can be indicators of a healthy water system and the ION Chef and ION S5 technology is helping us do just this.

The technique is also being developed to enable improved analysis of a wider range of organisms, including algae, in source water such as the River Murray.




Source:  South Australian Government -

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