Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Hello and welcome to the Water Recycling in Australia blog.

I intend to use this space for a rational facts-based discussion of issues associated with proposed and existing water recycling schemes in Australia.

In particular, I hope this will soon be a useful resource for communities concerned about public health and environmental risks associated with water recycling.

Anybody with an interest in these issues is very welcome to participate in the discussion and I will do my best address specific issues as they arise.

I very much accept that emotional factors are relevant and legitimate concerns requiring significant consideration. However, my one request is that people wishing to post comments on this blog try to refrain from emotional outbursts. I propose that it is possible for adults to discuss their concerns in a calm and rational manner as long as all parties agree to take the concerns of others seriously.

I expect that there will commonly be instances where I do not agree with opinions expressed by some participants. However, I hereby pledge not to ridicule or belittle such opinions, but to do my best to provide scientifically robust explanations as to why I consider an alternative point of view to be justified.

I hope this blog will be a useful, informative and entertaining experience for you!



Snow Manners said...

Welcome Stuart. I think a blog that can explain and justify the science with proper studies is a valuable resource.

I would also like to see you engage Blair Nancarrow and June Marks here. So much of the Toowoomba debate is on community acceptance.

There is not a lot of point in huge R&D of any technology if there is not a market for it. (consumer sovereignty vs utility monopolies).

The market for potable reuse needs to be cautiously and carefully developed over a long period of time or introduction will stall.

Anonymous said...

This is not proper studies of recycled sewage, this is another person that thinks recycled sewage in any form is good for drinking, regardless of the outcome.

We don't need another scientist telling us what to do with our lives and our waste water.


Wal said...

Stuart, I appreciate your attempts to explain the technical operation of reverse osmosis, ultra filtration and UV disinfection.

I guess the facts are that there are two arguments running here. Firstly, the scientific proof that water re-use is safe and viable, as opposed to the argument that we should not drink 'sewage' which naturally has a 'yuk' factor.

Scientific facts are readily lost in the maze of past failures such as Agent Orange and DDT. Therefore, I can understand why people are disillusioned with scientific authorities saying it will all be OK.

But when it comes to water, we re-use it every day.

Toowoomba, like most communities has a swimming pool (or two.) It is a fact that virtually all users will pass small quantities of urine when entering a pool. Equally, faecal material will enter the water as most pool users do not effectively shower before entering. The bulk of people using a pool will ingest some water whilst in the pool.

The net result of pool use is some chance of cryptosporidios or giardiasis. Certainly, this is reported from pools with rapid sand filtration and chlorine disinfection. However, with ozone disinfection added, the levels of infection are reduced to minimal numbers. This is with water that is circulated every 4 to 6 hours, not single use.

The point. Water re-use is accepted in swimming pools with no question, in spite of recognised risks, poor hygiene practises by many users and basic filtration and disinfection. But it is seen as something different when treated to extremely high levels through multiple processes for intentional human cosumption.

To put it all into context, if we were terribly concerned with consuming treated water, we would be horrified with eating food. Qld Health reports that there is an average of over 2,000 cases of food poisoning EVERY DAY in Qld. We would probably also ban sunlight as it is a proven source of cancer. This is in spite of the need for sunlight for life.

Scary isn't it?

Miss Eagle said...

Hi Stuart, Your blog has turned up in my Google alerts that I use for water issues. I am the Secretary of GreenFaith Australia here in Melbourne. We are a fairly new interfaith environmental organisation. I am a member of FoE and the Melbourne Water Network that meets there. I am also the Victorian representative of a soon to be launched in Sydney organisation, the Australian Water Network. As well I am on the fringes of Watershed Victoria which is protesting about the Wonthaggi Desal Plant and the Plug the Pipe group who are protesting the north-south pipeline which will take water (currently non-existent really) from the Goulburn River in the MDB and pipe it to Melbourne. I am interested in water recycling. I am not 100% opposed to desalination - only opposed to it when tanks have not been mandated and water recycling and stormwater harvesting have not been fully implemented and utilised. There are scientists here who say Melbourne is not short of water. One who says that capital cities in Australia are not short of water and, in fact, water is a problem and he goes on to speak about rain gardens. Currently, FoE is organising a major public meeting where we can take this sort of message to the people of Melbourne and try to stimulate some awareness instead of lying back and saying it's OK, we'll have desal (with all the expense and environmental consequences.) So would all of these things come within your interests too? You can email me at eaglemiss (at) gmail (dot) com

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