IWA Publishing

Evolution of water recycling in Australian cities since 2003

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The prolonged Australian drought which commenced in 2002, and the agreement between Australia's Commonwealth and States/Territories governments to progress water reform through the National Water Initiative, has resulted in many new recycling projects in Australia's capital cities. Dual reticulation systems are being advanced in new subdivision developments in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. Brisbane has installed three large Advanced Water Treatment Plants that are designed to send indirect potable recycled water to the Wivenhoe Dam which is Brisbane's principal water reservoir. Numerous water recycling projects are serving industry and agriculture. Experimental managed aquifer recharge is being undertaken with wetland-treated stormwater in Adelaide and reverse osmosis treated wastewater in Perth. New National Water Quality Management Strategy recycled water guidelines have been developed for managing environmental risks, for augmentation of drinking water supplies, for managed aquifer recharge and for stormwater harvesting and reuse. Many recent investments are part-supported through Commonwealth government grants. Desalination plants are being established in Melbourne and Adelaide and a second one in Perth in addition to the newly-operational plants in Perth, South-East Queensland and Sydney. Despite there being numerous examples of unplanned indirect potable recycling, most governments remain reluctant about moving towards planned potable recycling. There is evidence of some policy bans still being maintained by governments but the National Water Commission continues to reinforce the necessity of an even-handed objective consideration of all water supply options.

Keywords: Australian water recycling, dual reticulation, indirect potable recycling, managed aquifer recharge, recycled water guidelines

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