Mythbusters

There are many myths about recycled water and many benefits, so please read our Q&A below and if you still have any unanswered questions contact us.

What are the benefits of using recycled water?

Using recycled water reduces drinking water use by up to 70%, saving precious drinking water supplies.  

Recycled water is not subject to water restrictions, so households have access to a secure water supply all year round, regardless of drought conditions.

As a user of recycled water you will be helping to ensure Australia’s sustainable future.

Why do we need to use recycled water?

At the moment most Australians use drinking water for everything. 

We flush, wash and water away up to 70 per cent of the drinking water we use daily. Only some 10 per cent is actually used for drinking and another 20 - 40 per cent for bathing in and cooking.

This means we can dramatically reduce the amount of drinking water we use by harnessing millions of litres of disused wastewater currently pumped out to sea.

Water is not just important for drinking and washing, insufficient water means we cannot grow adequate food supplies or maintain industry.

Important points about recycled water:

  • Reusing water provides real flexibility and benefits in our drought prone climate by replacing and thereby conserving drinking water supplies.
  • Increased water recycling is a feature of the Lower Hunter Water Plan. The NSW Government continues to investigate new, innovative and cost effective ways to treat and use recycled water.
  • Water recycling is supported by the NSW Government to provide long-term solutions to secure our water supplies.

By way of example, Sydney produces almost enough wastewater to fill Sydney Harbour every year.  We have a major untapped resource at our finger tips:

  • By 2015, the NSW Government aims to recycle about 70 billion litres of water a year making up 12 per cent of Sydney’s current water needs.
  • In 2010-11, nearly 50 billion litres of recycled water was used in Sydney and the Illawarra, water that would otherwise have been sourced from drinking water supplies.

Singapore, California, Florida, United Arab Emirates and Israel use recycled water as a key part of improving the security of their future water supplies.

Why are pipes for the recycled water system purple?

To ensure recycled water is not confused with drinking water it is delivered through a completely separate piping system with a strong and noticeable colour - purple.

Why is recycled water available in new developments but not existing ones?

Laying recycled water mains in conjunction with drinking water mains is a relatively simple and cost effective method of introducing recycled water.

To retrofit recycled water into existing areas, excavation under roads, nature strips and private property would be needed. Home owners would also bear the cost of installing recycled water plumbing and fixtures within their properties. This means retrofitting communities with recycled water can be costly and time consuming.

What can I use recycled water for?

Recycled water can be used for:

  • flushing toilets
  • cold water supplies to washing machines
  • irrigating gardens and lawns

What can’t I use recycled water for?

Recycled water can’t be used for:

  • human or animal drinking
  • bathing and showering
  • household cleaning
  • cooking or other kitchen purposes
  • swimming pools and spas
  • evaporative coolers
  • children’s water toys
  • bidet sprays
  • recreation involving water

What testing takes place to determine the quality of the recycled water?

Huntlee Water is required to meet strict Australian Guidelines for Water Recycling set out by Federal and State Governments. 

Huntlee recycled water will undergo seven purification processes. Water is filtered, biologically treated, chemically treated and disinfected with ultraviolet rays and chlorine.

Water quality testing and monitoring takes place at every stage of this purification process.

Samples are taken in the tanks after water is treated and at customers’ taps. Laboratories certified to international standards carry out all testing according to NSW Health standards.

What are biosolids?

Wastewater contains wasted water from kitchen sinks, bathrooms and toilets. 

Huntlee Water’s local water centre collects wastewater from homes through its pressure sewer network. The wastewater undergoes seven purification processes converting the wastewater into recycled water. The by product of this process is a nutrient rich organic matter called biosolids. Rich in plant nutrients, biosolids are used as soil conditioners and fertilisers in areas such as agriculture, forestry, composting and land rehabilitation.

There are many ways you can help improve the quality of biosolids. These include:

  • Don’t wash paint, pesticides, medicines or other chemicals down the sink or toilet. Put them in the bin or take them to a chemical collection point.
  • Use low phosphorous or phosphorous-free detergents and pesticides.
  • Only use the recommended amount of detergent for your washing machine and dishwasher.
  • Don’t pour grease, oil or milk down the sink.

By improving the quality of waste entering the wastewater, you ultimately improve what returns to the environment after treatment.