Study: Toilet-To-Tap Is 'Inevitable' In Australia
By Sara Jerome
Toilet-to-tap may be coming to Australia whether locals like it or not. A new research study said the reuse of wastewater for drinking is "inevitable" in Australia.
"In the long term, I see direct potable reuse as being inevitable. I see that if we are going to have increasing population pressures, potentially increasing climate pressures in many areas, we really do need to get a lot smarter about this one-directional use of water," said Stuart Khan from the University of NSW in the report "Drinking Water Through Recycling."
The report focused on the environmental and economic benefits of water reuse. It was funded by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and the Australian Water Recycling Centre of Excellence.
The study looked at both indirect potable reuse (IPR) and direct non-potable reuse (DPR). IPR is when treated wastewater is funneled into a drinking water source such as a river, meaning some of it will someday show up as tap water. DPR is when purified municipal wastewater goes straight to a drinking water treatment plant.
“The real driver for considering DPR is sustainability,” Khan said. “It offers the opportunity to recycle water for potable reuse with considerably lower energy requirements, compared to IPR."
The time to start planning is now, because getting a robot system in place will take a while, according to Khan.
"I can't imagine a direct potable reuse scheme in Australia in anything less than a decade, perhaps 20 years, perhaps 30 years is more likely," Khan said in The Sydney Morning Herald.
Like most places, the proposal is not universally accepted in Australia. An unofficial poll by the Herald found that nearly 40 percent of respondents do not approve of water recycling.
But regulators generally see the upsides. The EPA provides a rundown of the benefits of recycling water. Positives include "decreasing wastewater discharges and reducing and preventing pollution. Recycled water can also be used to create or enhance wetlands and riparian habitats."
Image credit: "1960 Bathroom," © 2008 thisreidwrites, used under an Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/deed.en