DM Civil

Tessa McGrath gets published

February 2016

Our young graduate engineer Tessa McGrath, has been published in the Journal of Water Resources and Protection, a Scientific Research Publishing journal. This is a significant achievement for any engineer or individual and particularly noteworthy at this stage of her career. It is no surprise to anyone who knows Tessa, that she is capable of this level of achievement. Tessa was the Dux of her high school and a member of an elite group of students in Western Australia in her final year. She was also an honours graduate from the University of WA engineering school.

The subject matter originated during Tessa’s final year at university as a thesis required in the course curriculum for civil engineering. The content of the thesis was a larger body of material than the published paper, which is a condensed version of that work. The topic is Aerobic Treatment Units (ATU) and Greywater Treatment Systems (GTS), essentially private sewerage and greywater effluent disposal units. They are generally used where deep sewer reticulation is not available and where a more environmentally friendly use of greywater is preferred.

For anyone who owns a property that is connected to an ATU, you will know that they require a deal of maintenance and monitoring and have several components that should be understood by the operator to ensure that they do not break down. This is why they need to be maintained and serviced by licenced operators who are generally answerable to the local government authority or council.

The GTS’s are different in that they do not treat toilet waste, only what is known as greywater, which will generally not contain the pathogens contained in sewage. These are more of a water saving device that make use of useable treated water for gardens.

The purpose of Tessa’s task was to review the requirements for regulation of the maintenance of both these systems in this state in particular. As noted above, this maintenance is carried out by licenced personnel only and there are reporting systems in place Australia-wide for this action. The paper reviews these practices and standards and compares different states and councils against each other to gauge consistency and compliance levels across the country. Finally, there are areas of discussion and a set of recommendations given to highlight possible areas for improvement to raise the standards of the current practices in maintenance and as importantly, to further standardise these practices from state to state.

After reading the paper, it is apparent that the research involved in compiling the report was extensive and that it was hard work to gather all this information and statistics and to structure it into a readable and concise document. This highlights Tessa’s talent and we congratulate her for her achievement in being published.

To access the published article online, refer to