This paper discusses the concepts and results from two contrasting types of water recycling initiatives in Australia. The first type of initiative is a centralised scheme based on local authorities recycling sewage effluent and/or stormwater in urban areas. A new urban subdivision in Queensland (Springfield) is provided as an example of such a centralised scheme, with uses ranging from dual reticulation, to public space irrigation, to urban lakes. The importance of strong public consultation and partnership is stressed for scheme success. A second example of a centralised scheme is an upmarket subdivision in Adelaide, South Australia (Mawson Lakes), where stormwater and recycled effluent are designed to supply in excess of 70% of the community's total water requirement. Scheme success is highly probable because of the ready adoption of innovative water supply alternatives by South Australians. The other type of initiative operates at a household scale (Healthy Home) and demonstrates that reinventing old ideas using new technologies can allow urban households to become largely self reliant for their potable and non-potable water needs, at least in high rainfall coastal areas. However, the cost effectiveness of this self reliance will require a substantial change in the sharing of savings from deferred public infrastructure costs. We include for comparison an analysis by Coombes et al. for the Lower Hunter region which clearly demonstrates that adoption of water sensitive urban design features, such as rainwater tanks in new developments, is not only more cost effective than traditional infrastructure solutions, but also allows the deferral of new urban water supply dams by the order of decades. We conclude the paper with the observation that advances in incorporating externalities into water development economics, the "trickle down" effect of new distributed technologies, and the growing desire by urban communities to live within the capacity of their regional ecosystems will probably ensure that reforms in the urban water and wastewater cycles will pioneer the way to genuinely sustainable and liveable urban communities in the near future. In short, the Ecological Footprint of urban development will be substantially reduced.
- Australian recycling projects
- economic analysis
- effluent quality
- effluent reuse in urban areas
- © IWA Publishing 2003