DRINKING TREATED SEWERAGE WATER MAY BE ONLY OPTION FOR PERTH IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA

PERTH IN AUSTRALIA ABOUT TO RUN OUT OF DRINKING WATER

Treated sewage is the only option to top up Perth’s drinking water supply so that it can be ready by summer, when dams are expected to run dry, according to the state’s eminent water expert.

Professor Jorg Imberger said adding recycled water to the main network must be the top priority to prevent Perth and south-west WA from running into critically low supplies.

He estimates it will occur as soon as next summer, even if there was treble the amount of rainfall run off than last year (13 giga litres). The dams are presently at less than 20 per cent capacity.

Professor Imberger said topping up the Gnangara Mound aquifer with treated wastewater would allow the Water Corporation to draw more from the aquifer than dams, which may prevent the “disastrous” situation of the dams becoming dry.

“[Recycled water should be adopted] for the simple reason that we can do it,” he said. “It’s not enough water [to sustain supplies] but it’s something that we can do immediately.”

Treated wastewater is already being pumped into the Gnangara Mound aquifer as part of a two-year trial but it won’t start to flow into households until the end of next year.

Environment Minister Bill Marmion has asked the Water Corporation and the Department of Water whether the trial could be fast-tracked.

He said the Water Corporation had advised it would take 18 months to put the necessary additional infrastructure into place.

However, Professor Imberger, who is director of the Centre for Water Research, said it could be done within three to six months.

“They could bring it online [and produce] 100 giga litres by next summer,” he said.

“That’s the reason we’re so strongly in favour of it.”

In the recycling process, the wastewater is treated and then pumped into the aquifer, where it mixes with naturally occurring water before being used by households. But how long the water needs to be blended is controversial.

“My opinion is, pull it out right away, there’s no health issues,” Professor Imberger said.

“Other people want it in there longer.”

Mr Marmion said public concerns about drinking treated wastewater were a large hurdle to overcome before recycled water could be brought into the main supply.

However, Professor Imberger said West Australians would have to overcome their fears of drinking recycled water.

“What you’re pulling out is not really what you’re putting in – it’s a mixture of [treated wastewater and naturally occurring water],” he said.

“The chance that you’re going to get a stomach bug by drinking bottled water compared to [tap] water is much higher because they treat it very carefully and bottled water isn’t treated at all.

“The Water Corporation water may not taste as nice but in terms of health it’s as safe as you can get.

“They’re not going to take any risks at all; they’ll treat it until there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it at all.”

Professor Imberger said a Singaporean company that bottled recycled water with the brand Nu Water to great success had proven the public’s distaste for recycled water was psychological.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

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