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SCU researcher investigates water recycling technology


22 November 2004
Southern Cross University (SCU) researcher Sarah West has spent the last eight months looking at water recycling and decentralised sewerage systems in Europe, Canada and the USA and is now looking at ways the technology can be put to use in Australia.

Ms West, a former Product Options Analyst with the Sydney Water Corporation, is undertaking a Masters degree through SCU’s Centre for Ecotechnology.

Ms West said the expertise and technologies from Europe, America and Canada could be adapted to Australia. She said that the Sydney Water Corporation had started investigating decentralised systems following a similar research study she conducted in 2000.

“I basically want to be able to provide our water and building industries with more options. There are valuable water and wastewater technologies in use overseas that we could use or modify,” Ms West said.

For example, in some parts of North-West America there are very good stormwater recycling systems, such as roof gardens and street stormwater gardens.

“It does depend on what the drivers are. In those parts of North-West America they have recognised that the pollution in their rivers has impacted on the salmon industry and they need to improve the health of their rivers to ensure the industry remains viable.”

She said in California water recycling was a big issue and a growing endeavour.

“They are using recycled water for things like car washes and commercial laundries as well as toilet flushing, garden irrigation and vegetable growing.”

Ms West said one of the key issues in land-based water-recycling was whether or not you had enough suitable land and specific crops to reuse the effluent.

“There certainly are limits. It’s obviously easier to lay new water pipes to carry the reclaimed water on the fringes of cities and in new residential areas, but you can also retro-fit within cities.

“Using small scale systems for sewer ‘mining’, which are fully enclosed with no odours or noise, you can recycle the treated effluent in parks or pipe it back to local homes for garden irrigation.”

Media contact: Brigid Veale, SCU Media Liaison, 66593006 or m. 0439 680 748.