Monday, September 25, 2006

Planned potable proposals provide pristine perspective

The controversy surrounding recent planned potable recycling proposals seems to have had one very positive outcome. Australians are finally beginning to recognise the realities of the water cycle outside of high school science classes.

Until recently, ignorance about such realities seemed to have been almost actively encouraged. I suppose it made sense. Why would water authorities want to unnecessarily raise awareness of practices that might prove controversial? But with communities now under pressure to consider planned potable recycling schemes, a more realistic understanding of the water cycle has become pertinent.

Serious discussion of potable recycling began in Sydney around two years ago when we were publicly debating alternatives to the proposed seawater desalination plant. In October 2005, the Sydney Morning Herald published an article describing how treated effluent from both Goulburn and Lithgow supplement supplies stored in Warragamba Dam.

By July this year, it was the Queensland State Government themselves that began to promote the common occurrence of “unplanned” potable reuse in that state. The minister in charge of water resources provided the following information to The Australian:

Fernvale, Esk, Lowood, Toogoolawah, Gatton and Laidley pump recycled sewage into the Mt Crosby Weir system, which supplies drinking water for Brisbane, Ipswich, Logan and Beenleigh residents. Dalby and Chinchilla drink Toowoomba's treated sewage, put back into the Condamine River, while Caloundra and Maroochy shires drink Maleny's treated wastewater from the Baroon Pocket Dam. Maryborough drinks from Gympie, Kingaroy drinks its own, Goondiwindi drinks from Inglewood and Beaudesert residents take theirs from Kooralbin.

This week, the (Melbourne) Herald Sun reports that treated effluent is discharged into one of the Yarra River's tributary creeks upstream of the point where river water is pumped into the Sugarloaf reservoir. The Victorian State Government seems keen to talk it down. However, I think that doing so is a disservice to some parched Australian towns and cities. Surely its time that we all just bit the bullet and focused on raising awareness.

If we want communities to identify the fact that potable recycling is absolutely normal, then we really do need to cooperate and encourage an open-eyed understanding of urban water cycles.

Whadda you reckon?


Anonymous said...

punping sewage into rivers so that it flows back into dams is not only discusting, it is extremely dangerous for health. Nowhere else in the world does this and it is an international scandel that governments in Australia have conspired and been getting away with it!! The United Nations is opposed to this and and if it is not fixed sanctions will be imposed. Tourists will not want to visit Australia if they know they will be drinking shit water.

Stuart Khan said...

Hello Anonymous,

Thanks for your comments. However, I fear that you have been misinformed. I would suggest to you that practically every river in the world that is at least 100km long has an upstream population discharging water into it and a downstream population taking water out of it. Examples in other countries include the Mississippi, Thames, Spree, Havel, Tagus and Amazon Rivers.

Bill said...

You said:

"Examples in other countries include the Mississippi, Thames, Spree, Havel, Tagus and Amazon Rivers."

SO what do these have to do with Australia??? Answer: NOTHING. Most of these rivers are severely polluted and not examples that we would want to follow!!

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