If Australia is to ensure future water supplies, it is critical
that we overcome our aversion to drinking recycled water.
While it will be a tough call getting Australians to drink
recycled water, it is an essential part of an integrated water
cycle management plan that will meet the country's future
In fact, there is a compelling case for an Australia-wide public
education program designed to overcome our aversion to drinking
recycled water as authorities plan to accommodate growing
Importantly, national and international experience indicates
that risks associated with drinking recycled water are
And while there has been much debate about desalination plants,
they are not a panacea for all our water woes. Decisions to
supplement water supplies with other sources need to consider all
options, including recycled water.
If Australia is to meet its international carbon abatement
commitments, including the United Nations Framework Climate Change
Convention, Kyoto Protocol and aspirational targets such as the
Cancun framework agreement, we need to rethink or water cycle
management options and incorporate carbon footprints in our
decision making process.
Making a decision on the next water source to supplement
supplies requires a framework that incorporates the infrastructure
costs, the environmental costs and the long-term operational
Water – including recycled drinking water –
must be provided through a mix of integrated water management
options and by working hand in globe with governments on water
And while the very thought of drinking recycled water gives most
Australians the heebie-jeebies, it is not a new phenomenon. Many
major towns and cities around the world, including Brisbane, can
add recycled water to their drinking water supplies.
Recycled water can be taken from rainwater, stormwater, used
water from bathrooms or treated effluent. It is most commonly used
for a variety of purposes, including agricultural irrigation,
industrial processing, in residential dual pipe schemes and to keep
public and recreational spaces green.
A good example of this is the award-winning project by the Gold
Coast City Council, Gold Coast Water and "wet
infrastructure" engineer MWH who partnered to manage the urban
water cycle in the Stapylton, Pimpama and Coomera areas of the Gold
A number of successful total water cycle schemes have been
developed around Australia using a mix of tank water, recycled
water and stormwater management.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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This legal update is an overview of existing eligible project activities and new project types proposed to be developed.
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