LETTER: New recycled water whets appetite of large businesses in Alice Springs

Sir – Large businesses and institutions south of Heavitree Gap in Alice Springs will soon be taking advantage of recycled water at their properties.
The Alice Water Smart Reuse Project aims to reduce consumption of potable (drinking) water by replacing it with recycled water for horticultural and irrigation purposes.
The upgrades will save around 220 million litres of potable water per year, equivalent to 100 Olympic sized swimming pools.
The project will add treatment processes at the Alice Springs wastewater treatment plant to improve the quality and quantity of recycled water, as well as a new recycled water storage tank.
We’re currently expanding the recycled water pipe network by 3.5km between Heavitree Gap and the Kilgariff subdivision along the South Stuart Highway, and across John Blakeman Bridge to Palm Circuit, to deliver the treated water direct to new recycled water users.
There is considerable potential demand for the recycled water for irrigation use and Power and Water Corporation is in discussions with businesses and institutions south of Heavitree Gap who currently use large volumes of potable water for irrigation.
Participation in the scheme is voluntary and Alice Water Smart will be helping with connections and management of the use of the recycled water.
The recycled water will be significantly cheaper than potable water ensuring it is a ‘no brainer’ cost wise.
Brendan Heenan, owner of MacDonnell Range Caravan Park on Palm Circuit said the initiative will go a long way to Alice Springs becoming a water smart town.
Having the option to access cheaper water for irrigation would substantially reduce our water bills and allow us to maintain an attractive Park for visitors, without the need to use drinkable water.
New flocculation, filtration and disinfection systems are being added to existing treatment facilities to provide a better quality recycled water product.
The filters will act like one of those water filters on your kitchen tap, only on a much bigger scale.
Effluent will be dosed with chemicals to bind particles together, then bubbles are inserted to float ‘clumps’ to the surface of the Dissolved Air Flotation tank before being scraped off.

The water will then pass through special sand in the new filters to remove any remaining solids, and at the end of the process there is an extra level of treatment with UV disinfection lamps.
After an extensive validation period to test the recycled water, new users will start to receive recycled water towards the end of 2013.
Alice Water Smart is supported by the Australian Government’s Water for the Future initiative.
Les Seddon

Alice Water Smart Project Manager

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2 Comments (starting with the most recent)

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  1. Trevor Shiell
    Posted March 10, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    How much did it cost is a moot question. There can be nothing more ridiculous, costly, (and futile) than using water to remove human waste in a desert and I applaud the efforts of water smart and its officers. But the problem lies directly at the feet of Governments. That technology has been around for along time.
    There was once a public Australian company named Memtec, which had far better than current technology, but which was subsequently brought up by American interests and used to re cycle waste water in the Gulf war. Such is our loss because of our shortsighted approach to so many things (including Kilgariff, which should still be world class research facility into carbon farming).
    It might be too late but still relevant to note that IDE Technologies in Israel is currently producing potable water from waste at the rate of 50 to 10000 cubic metres a day, in transportable units, without the use of chemicals.
    It recently opened the world’s largest desalination project at Hadera in Israel. They have on the market now a portable unit (think Indigenous communities) as well as a large scale unit producing potable water at a cost of around 57 cents US a cubic metre and producing 150 million cubic metres a year. When completed, over 50% of household water used in Israel will come from desalinated sea water.
    Once again we have to ask where were we when all this was happening. Perhaps seeking non existent low cost housing? As with the tourism industry, we need to open our eyes and look around.

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  2. Janet Brown
    Posted March 5, 2013 at 8:18 am

    This system has been available for many years. How much did it cost and who paid. My concern is over the extra charges put to Territorians for power water and sewage and this sudden roll-out of recycled water and its infrastructure. There are systems that can be added to households that connect to septics. Back in the late 80’s a friend in NSW had the system and it was amazing. For costings can you please let us know the cost of the infrastructure. Who and how many businesses and homes will have access to this.
    An amazing idea was to dam the swamp and fill it with recycled water from the ponds and supply Alice Springs with a recreational dam for swimming, canoeing, sailing and maybe fishing. This would increase the bird life and wild life and add an amazing asset to our Alice Springs life style. And would be something we can all enjoy. Feel the serenity.

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