Recycled water is an integral part of ensuring a sustainable water supply in New South Wales. With the changes and improvements in technology, the effect of climate change on water resources, population growth and the increasing price of water, future demand for recycled water is expected to rise.
There has been a move towards a nationally consistent approach to the management and use of recycled water from sewage, greywater and stormwater sources.
In November 2006 the national Environment Protection and Heritage Council, the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council and the Australian Health Ministers Conference released the Australian Guidelines for Water Recycling: Managing Health and Environmental Risks (Phase 1) (PDF). These guidelines replaced the National Guidelines for Sewerage Systems - Use of Reclaimed Water 2000. More on the Australian guidelines.
The NSW Government supports a consistent approach to water recycling in Australia. NSW will use its own processes to refine the Australian guidelines where necessary. The Australian guidelines may be used to inform NSW legislative and regulatory requirements.
One key change in NSW is that the Australian guidelines have replaced the 1993 NSW Recycled Water Coordination Committee’s NSW Guidelines for Urban and Residential Use of Reclaimed Water. In addition, the NSW Office of Water will adopt the Australian guideline framework for assessing section 60 applications for approval to treat and supply recycled water under the Local Government Act 1993 and section 292 applications for approval to treat and discharge recycled water under the Water Management Act 2000.
The former Department of Water and Energy released Interim Guidelines for Management of Private Recycled Water Schemes in 2008 (PDF). The NSW guidelines align the principles outlined in the Australian guidelines to the approvals process for private recycled water schemes that are larger than a single household (requiring section 68 approval) in NSW. The guidelines provide practical advice, including some examples, for obtaining approval to install and operate a private recycled water scheme within the existing NSW legislative framework. The guidelines replace the NSW Health ‘Interim Guidance for Greywater and Sewage Recycling to Multi-Unit Dwellings and Commercial Premises’ (circular 2004/71).
Relevant NSW regulations, standards or guidelines should be consulted where they exist to ensure that any NSW requirements are met. Where NSW guidelines differ from the Australian guidelines, the NSW guidelines should be followed or the regulatory agency consulted to clarify requirements.