Population boom could lead to more recycled drinking water

Sydney’s population is set to increase by an estimated 1.74 million residents in the next 18 years which could lead to growing pains when it comes to waste water.

Dr Ian Wright, from the Western Sydney University’s School of Science and Health, said many people do not realise that Sydney already relies on recycled sewage to top up its water supplies.

“Drinking recycled sewage is a very confronting topic. But even in Australia’s biggest city – Sydney – it is an important part of the water supply,” said Dr Wright.

“The large settlements of Goulburn, Lithgow, Moss Vale, Mittagong and Bowral all discharge their treated sewage into the catchment rivers of Sydney’s Warragamba Dam,” said Dr Wright.

“There are also sewage treatment plants located in the Blue Mountains, Penrith, Wallacia and West Camden, all of which discharge their treated sewage into the Hawkesbury-Nepean River,” he said.

“The North Richmond Water Filtration Plant extracts and treats this water to supply some parts of north-western Sydney.”

Dr Wright says this method of ‘indirect potable reuse’ of treated sewage is common, and the water is highly treated to ensure it meets Australian drinking water guidelines.

He says no Australian urban water supply currently uses ‘direct potable reuse’ of treated sewage – which involves the water being transferred from a sewage treatment facility directly into a city’s water source, without it first being mixed into a dam, river or reservoir.

But if Sydney’s population grows at the rate expected, the concept will need to be seriously considered.

“Available data is limited, but in the recent dry summer I estimate that treated sewage comprised about 20% of the Hawkesbury-Nepean flow in the North Richmond area,” says Dr Wright.

“Much of Sydney’s population growth will be in western Sydney, one of the most rapidly growing urban populations in Australia. And this will result in more treated sewage, and urban runoff, contributing to the Hawkesbury-Nepean River flow.”

Organics market development grants open: EPA NSW

The Tasmanian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is considering a proposal for an organics processing facility at Mowbray in Launceston.

NSW businesses, councils, agricultural associations and project communicators can now apply for the second round of grants to promote the benefits of compost into new markets.

Grants worth up to $300,000 are available to provide funding for projects that will build markets for compost made from household food and garden waste, including material collected from kerbside bins.

Example projects that are eligible for funding include showcasing compost benefits to farmers, demonstrating benefits to soil health, or improving market confidence by promoting the high standard of modern compost quality.

Previous rounds of grants have already funded projects that have demonstrated how compost builds resilient turf on sporting fields and improves soil health on farms in Sydney and the Riverina.

EPA Unit Head Organics Amanda Kane said the grants gave business, councils and agricultural associations the chance to deliver projects that could make a real difference when it came to organic waste.

“From saving good food from being wasted and addressing food insecurity in our state, to increasing NSW capacity to process more collected green waste, we’re tackling organics waste from every angle,” Ms Kane said.

“This funding is helping to build strong, viable markets for a quality recycled product and supports other programs to increase supply through more collections and infrastructure to build the capacity of the industry in NSW to process more.”

The grants are being delivered through the NSW EPA’s Waste Less Recycle More initiative.

Applications close 28 March, 2018.

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