Water Journal : Water Journal February 2014
WATER FEBRUARY 2014 8My Point of View PREPARING FOR THE COMING OF DIRECT POTABLE WATER RECYCLING Dr John Radcliffe AM FTSE, Chair -- Research Advisory Committee, Australian Water Recycling Centre of Excellence John Radcliffe is an agricultural scientist who became Director-General of Agriculture in South Australia in 1985 and represented that state as a Commissioner on the Murray-Darling Basin Commission. He subsequently became an Institute Director and Deputy Chief Executive in CSIRO until 1999, while also chairing the Board of the South Australian Research and Development Institute. In 2004, the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering published John's review "Water Recycling in Australia", the rst nationwide review of our water recycling environment. From 2005 to 2008, he was a Commissioner of the National Water Commission. He currently chairs the Research Advisory Committee of the Australian Water Recycling Centre of Excellence. He continues as an Honorary Research Fellow in CSIRO. It has been dry in parts of outback Queensland; Perth is continuing its trend of reduced in ows from catchments well below the long-term average; and there were low spring ows in the Murray-Darling Basin. However, most of the eastern states' capital cities have been well endowed with water in their catchments for several years. Most of the desalination plants and advanced water recycling plants in the eastern states are in a state of suspended animation. Water issues are generally off the agenda, so maybe it is a good time for some quiet re ection and consideration of where we are going with respect to recycled water, especially for drinking. AUSTRALIA LEADING THE WAY Australia is in the fortunate position of having developed water recycling guidelines for the management of health and environmental risks, augmentation of drinking water, managed aquifer recharge and stormwater harvesting and reuse. It has also recently updated its drinking water guidelines. Many other countries are envious of these outcomes, which would be almost impossible to achieve in countries such as the US, with its enormous jurisdictional complexities. Australia also has a group of State and Territory recycled water regulators that meet together and that are willing to provide advice for research projects to better prepare for the future management of recycled water. With the higher costs of water and trade waste charges, industries are increasingly willing to see how recycling might be economically incorporated into their production processes, two major commercial breweries in Brisbane being notable examples. Yet in other areas we still have a long way to go. We have governments with policy bans that preclude the rational scienti c consideration of the use of recycled water for drinking, with advisers not being prepared to consider the technology now available. Others recognise that a range of proven technologies is available, but worry about the ability of water utilities to manage the processes within the normal range of variability to achieve an acceptably safe production outcome -- questions of competence and trust.
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