Overview of the Australian guidelines for water recycling: Managing health and environmental risks 2006

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Environment Protection and Heritage Council, the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council and the Australian Health Ministers' Conference, 2006

This document was released under the National Wate​r Quality Management Strategy (NWQMS) to provide an overview of the guidelines, as an introduction for anyone interested in recycling water. The aim is to give readers an idea of the scope and content of the full guidelines, and highlight some of the main issues in water recycling. Anyone involved in recycling should consult the full document and should not rely on this summary. Througho​ut the text there are links to the relevant sections of the full document, where more detailed information can be found.

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Background

As climate variability and population levels increase, many areas of Australia are facing a serious water shortage. Alternative sources of water are becoming more important as water restrictions become more widespread and severe. One option for an alternative water source is to reuse water such as storm water, greywater and treated sewage. Through a combination of careful management, appropriate use and education of water users, these types of water can be recycled safely and sustainably.

In 2006, the first phase of the new Australian guidelines for water recycling was published. Titled Australian Guidelines for Water Recycling: Managing Health and Environmental Risks, the document was released under the National Water Quality Management Strategy. The guidelines document provides a mechanism for the expanded use of recycled water in a nationally consistent manner, and cover particular sources of water and particular uses. It is based on a risk management approach, which involves anticipating potential problems and preventing them from arising.

Australia's water recycling guidelines

This brochure is a guide to Phase 1 of Australia's guidelines for water recycling. Phase 1, titled Australian Guidelines for Water Recycling: Managing Health and Environmental Risks, was written in 2006 for the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council, the Environment Protection and Heritage Council, and the Australian Health Ministers' Conference.

Phase 1 of the guidelines covers the use of water recycled from greywater and treated sewage for specific uses, including:

  • residential garden watering, car washing, toilet flushing and clothes washing
  • irrigation for urban recreational and open space
  • irrigation for agriculture and horticulture
  • fire protection and firefighting systems
  • industrial uses, including cooling water (from a human health perspective).

Additional documents on water recycling are being developed in Phase 2 and will cover:

  • the use of recycled water to augment drinking water supplies
  • the use of stormwater and roofwater for purposes such as irrigation
  • managed aquifer recharge.
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