The Water & Carbon Group: A Year of Milestones in 2023

18 December, 2023

What a year! In our 2023 year-in-review, our Water & Carbon Group business unit managers reflect upon a year marked by growth, innovation, and a steadfast commitment to providing the best in PFAS, wastewater, ecology, and carbon services.

Jim Hunter, CEO: Significant achievements across the globe

This year stands as a testament to our focus on sustainable solutions and business growth both here and in the US. From carbon initiatives to PFAS removal with the LEEF System in the US, and the success of the Shoal Bay Leachate Treatment Plant in Australia, each accomplishment has really shown our commitment to tackling some of the world’s biggest challenges head on.

Thanks to the support of our stakeholders and the dedication of our team, we are looking ahead with great enthusiasm. The year's achievements serve as a foundation for continued growth with a great team in 2024.

Callum Howell, Carbon & Natural Capital Manager: Expansion of our carbon services portfolio

It’s been a year of business development and expansion of our carbon portfolio. My 2023 highlights:

  • Welcoming Scott Jardine, our Technical Lead, to the team – his expertise, plus a great sense of humour, has been a boost to the team.
  • Riverina region environmental planting design and implementation plan – our first project and a quality one that we’re proud of.
  • Our collaborations with NDevr Environmental for Barwon Water, GWM Water, and Merah North have been high quality projects that are really making a difference for carbon sequestration.

I’m looking forward to continuing to work with landholders and our other partners to establish carbon projects of the highest integrity, which generate benefits for the community and the environment.

Dan Cole, Environment & Ecological Restoration Manager: Biodiversity for a Sustainable Future

It’s been a great year with Bruce and Mat working on some great ecological projects that are making a difference. My 2023 highlights.

  • We marked a significant milestone with Logan City Council, delivering on their vegetation offsets program over the last 10 years. It is one of the fastest growing council areas in Australia and we are proud to have been involved in supporting their environmental commitments.
  • Working on a mangrove restoration project in PNG over the last two years – Gwarumemase, east of Port Moresby has long been vulnerable to sea-level rise and saltwater intrusion and our project to restore mangroves will create an improved buffer protecting the community and food supply.
  • The Banylua-Saratini Farms Production and Ecological Restoration Project was also a standout. The project included mapping recent farm acquisitions that form 458 hectares in the subtropical Byron hinterland. The work included integrating the current and future production areas along with natural areas for conservation or restoration. A key focus was on waterway management and riparian restoration to retain water longer within the farms based on the regenerative agriculture principle of landscape rehydration.

In 2024, I am looking forward to continuing our local work in Logan and focusing more on designing carbon projects.

David Leinster, Wastewater & Solutions Manager: Innovations in Sustainable Solutions

This year has been a transformational one for the Wastewater team, moving from a construction and commissioning focus in 2022 to a predominantly operational role in 2023 for our flagship project in Darwin; treating leachate and removing PFAS with the LEEF System®, biological nutrient removal using a unique Sequencing Batch Reactor/Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor (SBR/MBBR) process and finally utilising evapotranspiration and Vetiver to provide a zero liquid discharge solution. The team has made a fantastic transition, particularly our Darwin operations team, supported by our process engineers and project managers.

My 2023 highlights include:

  • Presenting and attending numerous conferences in Australia and the USA and receiving great feedback on our solutions for wastewater and leachate treatment.
  • Working with the Darwin team and solving complex problems using the wide range of skills and expertise available within the team.
  • Further developing our expertise in remote and rural wastewater treatment solutions, particularly in Barcaldine and further into Western Queensland.

What I am looking forward to in 2024 is further project and product development with our diverse and highly skilled team and customers.

Mark Mullett, Technical Manager of PFAS, Mining and Research: Innovation and quality through R&D

For 2023 there were some really great highlights to mention:

  • PFAS removal: The technical development of PFAS removal over the past year has been highly accelerated and the Water & Carbon Group’s advanced standing in the area of foam fractionation is continually being further progressed. This led to design optimisations for our first LEEF System® plant in the US at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and further improvements in PFAS waste reduction, destruction and immobilisation.
  • Sharing our in-depth technical knowledge: I presented papers at two international conferences, the International Membrane Science and Technology Conference and the Annual Conference of the Membrane Society Australasia (co-hosted by the International Congress on Separation and Purification Technology) as a keynote speaker. My presentations were on the subjects of ‘Water Recovery from Mine Tailings’ and ‘Short Chain PFAS Removal from Landfill Leachate’ respectively. We also attended a workshop with a major water utility as an invited subject matter expert to discuss ‘Techno-economic Evaluation of Water Treatment Technology Selections’.
  • Scientific paper: A peer reviewed technical paper has been submitted to the journal ‘Separation, Science and Technology’ entitled ‘PFAS Removal from Landfill Leachate – the Short Chain Dilemma’.
  • Mining services: I worked with two international mining companies as a subject matter expert to develop new and innovative water recovery technologies for the treatment of super-saline waste streams, and also to treat a brine stream from a battery recycling plant. Both being from the lithium processing sector.
  • Award: It was great to receive an award at the international separation conference (MSA-ISPT) recognising 25 years of service and leadership to the membrane science, engineering and development community.

Next year we are looking towards developing new treatment options for other PFAS sources, expanding our reach into client needs.

Nick Ganzon, US Manager: Breaking new ground in the US with the LEEF System®

My personal highlight of this past year was joining the Water & Carbon Group team. I was drawn in by the mission to combat PFAS contamination, the real progress the team has made with the LEEF System® solution, and most importantly the incredible people and the culture they have built.

When I joined, a big goal of mine was to quickly build up our US team, making sure we had the right people to make WCG successful in the United States. I'm happy to say that we brought on three key leaders who will be crucial in shaping our path:

  • Jeff Travis - Engineering Lead: Jeff has brought a wealth of packaged water quality treatment experience and innovative thinking to the team. Jeff was able to rapidly engage in the Bethlehem project and is already working to build out his team to support our next projects.
  • John Croom - Sales Lead: Just starting at the end of November, John brings incredible experience in selling high value, complex water treatment systems, including those for PFAS remediation and leachate treatment.
  • John Holley – Operations Engineer: Also joining us at the end of November, John’s tasks are to ensure that the construction, commission and operation of our treatment plants go smoothly. John has experience in treating leachate, having served four years with Rochem.

In addition to team expansion, another noteworthy achievement this year was the update of our Channel Partner Agreement with Leachate Management Specialists (LMS). While it required a significant amount of effort, the revised agreement is a testament to our commitment to fostering a strong, mutually beneficial partnership. The updated terms not only position WCG for the next level of success but also fairly compensate LMS for their invaluable contributions to our journey.

Lastly, and importantly, is our first US project deploying LEEF in Bethlehem. This project is moving along very well. The fractionators have arrived in the US, the pump and blower skids are nearing completion, and the site will be ready for final construction activities at the beginning of January. I recognize that the entire Australian team has shouldered this project from the beginning, I would like to make a special shout-out to Jean-Marc and Pat Stanford for the efforts getting us to this point.

Looking ahead to 2024, there are several key elements that are crucial for our success:

  • Completion, Commissioning, and Operation of Bethlehem: The successful start-up of the Bethlehem LEEF system is paramount. Our customers, competitors, and the wider PFAS community will be closely observing, and we must ensure a flawless execution.
  • Build the Pipeline and Win Orders: With state and federal regulations taking shape, it is imperative that we secure commitments from customers before our competitors do. Our team is poised to make this happen.
  • Dialing in Our Value Proposition: While we possess a solid technical solution, competition is high. Our key to winning involves excelling in these four key elements:
    • Born in Leachate: leverage our expertise in the leachate market with technical knowledge, research & development, and market relationships.
    • Leaders in Regulatory Awareness: Being at the forefront of regulatory changes and understanding how they impact our customers.
    • Customer Focus: Delivering consistent customer experiences, both at the front- end and operational levels, to ensure satisfaction.
    • LEEF System Platform: Establishing it as the industry benchmark for performance and footprint.
  • Evolve and Advance Our Technical Knowledge: Staying ahead of the competition requires pushing the technical envelope. This involves developing a deeper understanding of how foam fractionation works on leachate, specifically in separating shorter chain PFAS compounds and filling in the final pieces of the puzzle.

Achieving these objectives is within our reach, but it necessitates the support and collaboration of each team member. Together, we can make 2024 a year of remarkable success for the Water & Carbon Group.

Looking Ahead to 2024

Looking ahead to 2024, the vision is clear – to further grow the business and team in Australia and the US, elevate PFAS-removal practices in the leachate market, embrace continuous improvement, and foster innovation. WCG's efforts in 2023 have showcased tangible results, and we eagerly anticipate 2024.

From all of us at the Water & Carbon Group, we wish you the best in 2024.

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