Thursday, August 03, 2006

recycled water - way of the future

dual reticulation - purple means don't drink - is a start at least

This site, which features people far more expert than I am about water resource management (they're scientists in the main), confirms what I said in the last post, that the yuk factor is having a disproportionate influence on the debate. The consensus seems to be that the Toowoomba decision revealed a failure in communication on the essential issues and that short-term political campaigning and scare tactics won the day. The story can't be allowed to end there.

The fact is that treated waste water is becoming more and more a part of urban water supplies worldwide. In Australia, the driest continent and becoming drier every year, Adelaide is leading the way. Already 21% of our waste water is recycled, far more than that of any other major Australian city. Sydney is worst, with only 3%. One of the main reasons for Adelaide's good showing, admittedly, is the fact that we have a lot of farmland around our sewage-treatment plants, with farmers more than willing to buy the treated water. Sydney's treatment plants are on the coast, surrounded by built-up suburbs with a built-in yuk factor. Not that there aren't suburbs - in Sydney as well as Adelaide - willing to use recycled water. Mawson Lakes in Adelaide's north is one such. It uses the recycled water for garden and toilets, employing a dual reticulation system that looks like becoming the way of the future - at least until recycled waste water for drinking becomes acceptable. It seems to me that dual reticulation - with water for express non-potable purposes being minimally processed - has some fairly obvious inherent hazards to it. Better, I should say, to bite the bullet and go all the way.



At 9:00 pm , Anonymous john c said...

The problem with the recycled sewage plent proposed for Toowoomba is that it just would not work.

It is not possible to produce 11,000 ML of recycled water from 8,000 ML of sewage. Toowoomba City Council also had nowhere for the RO waste stream to go. Acland Coal did not want it. Singapore pumps its RO waste stream into the sea.

The plant could never have been built for $68 million - closer to $150-200 million would be more accurate when you take into account the hundreds of acres of evaporation ponds required which were not included in the budget.

Regardless of your view on recycled water use, the no vote in Toowoomba was correct because the proposal was a dud.

At 12:50 am , Blogger Stewart said...

You bring up an important issue but of course it opens a can of worms. You're basically claiming that the Toowoomba City Council and other proponents of the project were being deceitful about the costings. No doubt they'll counter-claim that your side is being deceitful. Where do your financial assessments come from? And even accepting the cost will be double the initial proposal, do you have long-term alternatives, bearing in mind the increasing scarcity of water in the future?

At 1:56 pm , Anonymous john c said...

I read the Council's NWC funding application.

In it CH2M Hill state that the failure to get Acland Coal to take the RO waste stream would mean building hundreds of acres of evaporation ponds at an additional cost of $70 million.

Toowoomba City Council knew Acland Coal did not want the RO waste stream but kept it quiet because they knew it would mean the project did not stack up. They spent much advertising time and money saying it was the cheapest option.

An internal DNRM&W email from July 2005 showed that Acland Coal did not want the waste stream. But Mayor Thorley and her supporters perpetuated the myth that they would in the hope that people wouldn't realise this.

You have to ask why.

The No vote merely put all the options Mayor Thorely said did not exist back on the table.


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