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|Government departments Industry associations Multimedia Frequently Asked Questions What is recycled water? Is the person using recycled water safe? Is recycled water safe for use around the home? Is recycled water safe for use in agriculture? How safe is recycled water? What are the potential risks associated with recycled water? What are the common units when talking about recycled water? How do I know where recycled water is used? How do we manage any risk associated with using recycled water? How does the reclamation or treatment process work for recycling water? Can recycled water be used for agriculture and amenity horticulture? How much water is recycled in Australia? What are Australia’s water resources? What can recycled water be used for? How is recycled water defined? Why recycle our water? Why do we recycle water and allocate it to the environment? Glossary||
What are Australia’s water resources?
Water resource management poses significant ongoing challenges in Australia. Our annual water use is approximately 1.3 million litres per person, the third highest consumption rate in the world, yet our climate is one of the driest. The largest two uses of water in Australia are agriculture (67% or 16 700 GL, 2001-02) and domestic (i.e. households - 9% or 2 200 GL, 2001-02). Increasing strain on our water resources has resulted in a greater focus on the efficient management of all water sources in Australia.
Many capital cities in Australia estimate that in the future they will not have sufficient water supplies to meet their growing populations. One water resource that has been under-utilised in Australia is ‘treated’ sewage water (commonly known as wastewater, recycled water or reclaimed water). Currently, less than 10% of this water resource is treated and utilised with the remainder being discharged at various points in the environment. However, there is growth in the use of recycled water for a variety of purposes. Recycled water provides benefits for the community and the environment by increasing available water resources and decreasing nutrient and contaminant loads to surface and coastal waters. We must also remember that all water we use or reuse returns to the environment to become part of the natural water cycle through run off or drainage and ends up in the atmosphere, creeks, rivers, oceans, lakes, groundwater and other water reserves (see figure below). A lot of water also evaporates and ends up as clouds, returning to the land as rain, snow or ice.
There are currently also a number of desalination plant in operation or currently under construction in Australia, provide another alternative water resource.
Typical water cycle (blue) including recycled water (lilac) and sewage (black) WTP = Drinking Water Treatment Plant. STP = Sewage or Wastewater Treatment Plant. RTP = Recycled Water Treatment Plant. SWRO = Seawater Reverse Osmosis (desalination plant).
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