Source: Daily Telegraph
Author: Annabel Hennessy
15 December, 2017
SYDNEYSIDERS need to get over the “yuck factor” associated with drinking recycled wastewater to protect the state against future droughts.
A new report by independent think tank Committee for Sydney is calling for a new public debate around recycled wastewater — warning that if action isn’t taken now the state will be facing a “water crisis”.
The report warns that while dams are currently high the state is unprepared for future droughts and that options including recycled drinking water need to be considered now to stop a statewide water shortage.
It singles out Western Sydney as being particularly vulnerable to water shortages as the precinct faces booming population growth.
It comes after The Daily Telegraph earlier this year revealed Water NSW documents had warned the government that poorly planned housing developments in Western Sydney were “reducing the quality” and putting pressure on the local water supply.
“The biggest barrier to recycling more of our wastewater comes not from cost, or because it’s particularly hard, but from the ‘yuck’ factor. People just don’t like the thought of drinking something that’s been drunk before,” the report states. “While understandable, this attitude is wrong. Properly treated waste water is as pure as desalinated water.”
The reports also warns that Sydney is unprepared for droughts. The report says at the very least the state needs to consider recycled wastewater for flushing toilets, washing streets and cleaning gardens.
It notes that a number of other states are already drinking recycled wastewater.
“Many parts of Australia already rely on recycled water for their everyday livelihood,” it says. “In the Goulburn Valley, wastewater is recycled and returned to the Goulburn River where it is eventually drunk by people in cities and towns downstream.”
Committee for Sydney director of advocacy James Hulme said it was better to start having discussions around recycled wastewater now when reservoirs and damns were full than during a drought. He said the NSW government couldn’t afford to be complacent on the issue of water given the city’s history of drought.
“We’ve just had the driest winter on record so now is the time to be having this public debate,” he said.