Greywater reuse in urban areas

Wiltshire, Mark (2005) Greywater reuse in urban areas. [USQ Project]


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Water recycling is increasingly being included in Australian policy frameworks and guidelines in order to help mitigate the unsustainable demands for potable water supplies in urban areas. Increased scientific knowledge, concern for the environment and the effects of global climate change has recently altered public opinion in cautious favour of water recycling initiatives. Technological advancements also now make water recycling more economically viable. Recycling greywater (wastewater from showers, basins, laundry, and possibly kitchen) whether it be from centralised ('third pipe' systems) or individual reuse treatment systems can be effectively and efficiently recycled for non-potable reuse applications such as industrial, irrigation, toilet flushing and laundry washing depending on the technologies utilised in the treatment process. Greywater recycling offers reductions in urban potable water demand up to 30% - 70% (Radcliffe, 2003). This paper explored current Australian Government policy frameworks and guidelines in order to define the main factors surrounding greywater reuse in urban areas. These factors were contextualised within an environmental framework and discussed under their broader social, political and environmental characteristics. Suitable treatment technologies that best addressed the defined greywater reuse factors were identified and clear, standardised and sustainable greywater reuse processes for their application were also established.

An economic cost benefit analysis was then undertaken. Direct costs were identified and quantified and indirect costs and externalities were also identified. However indirect costs and externalities that effect greywater reuse were not quantifiable and their affects are still largely subjective. Greywater reuse offers indirect benefits to public infrastructure in the form of reduced sewerage flows, reduced treatment plant size, shorter distribution systems, reduced potable water demand and can help prolong the need for additional potable water sources. Also, the economic benefits of greywater recycling in relation to potable water savings are obscured by current non-transparent and subsidised pricing mechanisms (Radcliffe, 2003). Skilled knowledge is a main concern for the installation and maintenance of greywater treatment systems. Additionally, commercial products (soaps and laundry powders etc) affect greywater quality and can have a great effect on garden health, groundwater, soil and the type of greywater treatment technology utilised. Generally, the long-term and broad implications of urban greywater systems are not yet fully understood and paramount to its acceptance is the protection of human health as well as community education and participation in community decision processes.

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Item Type: USQ Project
Refereed: No
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Engineering and Surveying - Department of Agricultural, Civil and Environmental Engineering (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2007 00:13
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2013 22:30
Uncontrolled Keywords: water recycling, urban greywater reuse, Australian Government policy, treatment technology, cost benefit analysis
Fields of Research (2008): 09 Engineering > 0905 Civil Engineering > 090508 Water Quality Engineering
09 Engineering > 0907 Environmental Engineering > 090703 Environmental Technologies
09 Engineering > 0905 Civil Engineering > 090509 Water Resources Engineering
Fields of Research (2020): 40 ENGINEERING > 4004 Chemical engineering > 400499 Chemical engineering not elsewhere classified
40 ENGINEERING > 4011 Environmental engineering > 401102 Environmentally sustainable engineering
40 ENGINEERING > 4005 Civil engineering > 400513 Water resources engineering

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