Significant gains from harnessing the power of water

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Harnessing the power of water has resulted in the elimination of bacteria, improvements in sterilisation and significant cost savings for an Adelaide hospital.

The North Eastern Community Hospital started a one year trial of the Ecas4 water purification system replacing traditional chemical methods of water cleansing.

Hospital Chief Executive Officer Scott Williams said the results were amazing.

“We were blown away that in two months we had zero traces of legionella bacteria in our pipes. There is always normally a small trace, but we have nothing now,” said Mr Williams.

Not only have they found no traces of legionella, they are also saving nearly $7000 a month on their gas bills.

“By implementing the Ecas4 system we reduced our hot water heating down from 80 degrees to 60 degrees, in a very controlled way that was over a period of months. What this means is we have saved about a third of our gas bill, so anywhere between $4000 and $7000,” said Mr Williams.

The system destroys the organic biofilm of bacteria by electroshocking it, including the legionella bacteria, leaving a water product that you can drink, compared to traditional methods of using chlorine to kill the bacteria.

Hospital water systems must have a bacteria count below 10 colony forming units to be considered within the safe level.

“When you treat the pipes with chlorine it will kill the bacteria but it doesn’t treat all of the bacteria that is attached to the biofilm, so by electroshocking it, it lifts the biofilm off the pipe and breaks it up and passes through the pipe. It means the legionella has nowhere to bind,” Mr Williams said.

Other benefits they didn’t anticipate included a cleaner sterilisation unit and less time fixing pipes for the maintenance team.

“When we had our monthly service for the sterilisation unit the technician said this is the cleanest he had ever seen it, to the point where we may not even need a monthly service.

“Our maintenance guy has said that it has saved him a significant amount of time, that’s not a saving as we can redistribute his time elsewhere, but it is an added value that we hadn’t necessarily anticipated,” said Mr Williams.

The trial ends in May, but the North Eastern Community Hospital will keep using the system.

“Based on the success of the system since implementation we have already planned to retain the system. The ongoing cost will only be the ECAS4 analyte material which would be in place of the chloride that we had traditionally purchased,” said Mr Williams.

Following the trial a detailed case study will be completed in partnership with the University of South Australia.

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