Sunday, April 05, 2009

The Victorian Government's water strategy is all at sea

This is a letter to the editor from Brian Wilson of Doncaster East published on April 5, 2009 [link]

I think it describes concerns about the Victorian Government's obsession with large scale water projects, and the overlooking of more sensible, sustainable water options such as water tanks and recycling. It highlights to me too that many in the community want more focus on sustainable water options, and the government that is supposed to represent us is not listening or consulting, and that the government's agenda is driven by the "big end of town".

Recycling washes best

"Water projects 'not needed' " (29/3) included reference to the consultants' (ignored) recommendation that recycled water for drinking should get "serious consideration", but that this would require a large public education campaign. Unfortunately, the only "education" campaign by this government to date has been to reinforce the public misconception that water recycling is somehow unsafe; the reality is that the reverse is true.

Water recycling is being used with complete safety in many parts of the world, and Queensland is also well down that path (an initiative that, it could be argued, the voters in that state have recently endorsed).

And just think of the advantages that recycling, rather than desalination, would achieve. The waste water treatment plant (or plants) would be located at or near existing treatment facilities. So no need for the Wonthaggi site and connecting pipes and power lines.

And waste water would no longer contaminate the ocean at Gunnamatta as it would be recycled. And the end result would be exactly the same — pure water!

Recycling uses the same reverse-osmosis process as desalination, so much of the current design would be retained. But because it is far less energy intensive, running costs (and therefore the impact on the environment) would also be less.

And as for the north-south pipeline, its only possible redeeming feature, given it now appears to have passed the point of no return, is that one day it may be used to pipe north some surplus recycled water to help relieve the stressed Murray-Darling system.

Check out this video about the desalination plant, and visit


Anonymous said...

Fear about recycled water is just as hysterical and irrational as fear about immunisation; why must the rest of us be setback by people's insufferable and backwards superstitions.

Roger said...

I firmly support all water reuse / recycling of sewage and stormwater harvesting. We will need to use all options, but I also support the construction of a desalination plant. All other options are rainfall dependent and it would be irresponsible of any government to not have desal in place as it represents the only lowest rainfall scenario option.

Peter Campbell said...

Roger, the problem is one of sequence. The government should invest in recycling and rainwater/stormwater capture, and only consider desalination if these are not enough. On current rainfall levels, we don't need desalination or the North South pipeline.