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How do we manage any risk associated with using recycled water?

By using guidelines and risk management principles. Australia has drafted national guidelines for recycled water which refers to water being fit for the intended purpose. However, state guidelines still refer to classes of water and people generally understand what these mean in their state.

Recycled water can be produced using different degrees of treatment to produce a defined quality of water. In Australia, these qualities are commonly classified into Classes A, B, C or D, depending on the state/territory or federal guidelines followed. Different guidelines have specific standards that vary from state to state (e.g. all states have Class D recycled water except Tasmania). Most states in Australia (South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland) have guidelines for irrigation of crops and pastures with recycled water.

These guidelines and best management practices have been developed from extensive research in Australia and around the world and are also based on principles of risk management. Scheme operators, managers and practitioners should comply with these state/territory and Australian guidelines. See your state guidelines (from the tab in the main menu) for detailed information regarding appropriate water qualities required for a specific reuse schemes. The new Australian Guidelines for Water Recycling use ‘fit for purpose’ in place of the Class A to D system and adopt the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system to manage risks:

  • Communicate and consult
  • Establish the context
  • Identify the hazards/risk
  • Analyse the risks
  • Evaluate the risks
  • Treat the risks
  • Monitor and review the hazards/risks
  • Record the risk management process

HACCP is now the international standard for food safety. When guidelines and best practice principles are followed, users and consumers can be confident that it is safe to work with recycled water, knowing the food grown with recycled water is safe, and that the environment is not adversely affected by the use of recycled water.