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An important lesson from the Millennium Drought in Australia was the power of individuals to curb their own water use. This was achieved through public education campaigns and water restrictions. It was a popular topic in the media and in daily conversations before the focus turned to desalination for water security.
Water authorities were also expanding the use of treated wastewater – often a polite term for sewage – for "non-potable" uses. These included flushing toilets, watering gardens, and washing cars and laundry.
Today - Emphasis - Wastewater - Locations - Arguments
Today, the emphasis on recycling wastewater in some locations is declining. The arguments for increased water recycling appear to be falling away now that desalinated water is available.
This trend ignores the fact that the potential supply of recycled water increases as populations grow.
Today - Wastewater - Streams - Rivers - Estuaries
Today most Australian wastewater is treated then disposed into local streams, rivers, estuaries and the ocean. In Sydney, for example, the city's big three outfalls dump nearly 1 billion litres (1,000 megalitres, ML) a day into the ocean.
Where has recycling succeeded?
Australia - Water - Projects
Australia has several highly successful water recycling projects.
Sydney introduced the Rouse Hill recycled water scheme in 2001. Highly treated wastewater is piped into 32,000 suburban properties in distinct purple pipes. Each property also has the normal "potable" drinking water supply.
Rouse - Hill - Scheme - South - Australia
Rouse Hill is considered a world-leading urban recycling scheme. South Australia (Mawsons Lakes) and Victoria (Yarra Valley Water, South East Water) have similar projects.
Our farmers often struggle to secure water for irrigation. Chronic water shortages across the Murray-Darling river system vividly demonstrate this.
Water - Role - Schemes - Examples - South
Recycled water can play an important role in agricultural schemes. There are successful examples in South Australia (Virginia Irrigation Scheme), Victoria (Werribee) and New South Wales (Picton).
Perth has gone further by embracing water recycling for urban use with plans to treat it to a drinking water standard. Part of the extensive treatment process involves reverse osmosis,...
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