Water Journal : Water Journal August 2011
governance water AUGUST 2011 69 Introduction Prolonged periods of drought and low rainfall mean that many Australians are familiar with the need to save water. Something that is less widely understood is the work that is going on to supplement traditional rain-fed supplies through stormwater harvesting, desalination and wastewater recycling. Whereas stormwater harvesting and desalination projects are generally carried out on a large scale, wastewater recycling projects can be carried out at practically any scale. Some Government authorities are making significant large- scale investments in upgrading regional water treatment infrastructure to make more water available for non-drinking use. At the smaller end of the scale, private enterprise and local water authorities are identifying opportunities to team up and find ways to use recycled water to supplement potable supplies. The reclaimed water sector seems to have enormous potential for growth, but the market is yet to mature, and the commoditisation of recycled water seems to have been slowed down by the absence of a simple, streamlined licensing or trading system. Bespoke arrangements need to be negotiated on a case-by-case basis for all new recycled water schemes involving two or more parties, and development approvals may be required under various legislative schemes. The purpose of this article, therefore, is to provide a basic roadmap for getting a water recycling scheme up and running. It provides an overview of the key legal and contractual requirements for accessing and using recycled water in Victoria. The box on pages 72--73 also provides an overview of the regulatory requirements in New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia. The fundamental requirements for accessing and using recycled water in Victoria are: • Recycled water agreement -- entering into a contract with the supplier stipulating the terms of supply; • Environment Improvement Plan -- preparing (and in some instances obtaining regulatory endorsement of) a plan that demonstrates that the scheme meets the requirements of the Guidelines for Environmental Management -- Use of Reclaimed Water (EPA Guidelines); and • Statutory approvals -- if necessary, obtaining regulatory approvals and endorsements from relevant authorities for the treatment and use of the recycled water. These are discussed in turn below. Recycled Water Agreement A recycled water agreement is a commercial agreement setting out the respective rights and obligations of the parties to a recycled water scheme. The parties to the agreement will be the water supplier, the water user and the owner of the land upon which the recycled water is to be used (if different from the user). The supplier might be either a water authority, which is able to sell treated or untreated sewage, or a business engaged in water-intensive processes (such as manufacturing), in which case it may be able to supply treated or untreated process water. With only a few exceptions (such as price regulation), the provisions of a recycled water agreement are negotiated by the parties and are not statutorily J Button An overview of the legal requirements in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia WATER RECYCLING SCHEMES: THE LEGAL REQuIREMENTS In Victoria, reclaimed water can be used for irrigation in accordance with an Environment Improvement Plan.
Water Journal September 2011
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