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Health risks of reusing wastewater in urban developments: A case study approach in Western Australia

Rastogi, Nandini (2016) Health risks of reusing wastewater in urban developments: A case study approach in Western Australia. Other thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

Like many other cities, Perth is facing shortages of potable water. Water should be used as a sustainable resource so that it is available in future. The factors contributing to increasing water shortages include: an increasing population, decreasing rainfall, aging of existing supply system infrastructure, and continued inefficient water use. Efforts by the Western Australian community to overcome water scarcity include implementing garden watering restrictions, water efficient appliances, and the use of treated rainwater and the use of recycled water in a safe and sustainable manner to reduce pressures on limited drinking water resources. However, introducing wastewater as a source of water supply for non-potable water has its own limitations, including: pricing, health concerns, technology, and legislative challenges, all of which need to be addressed.

A new concept of treating wastewater onsite for commercial reuse in Western Australia is being applied by the Peppermint Grove Council. The Shire of Peppermint Grove (a suburb) is situated around thirteen kilometres from Perth (in Western Australia) on the north side of the Swan River and shares boundaries with the Towns of Claremont, Cottesloe and Mosman Park. Peppermint Grove is one of the Perth’s beautiful suburbs, known for its large character homes set in tranquil tree-lined streets and lush parks located on the shores of the Swan River, (http://www.peppermintgrove.wa.gov.au/your-shire/). The successful implementation of wastewater reuse requires an integrated consideration of the following: public health requirements, environmental requirements, appropriate technology, and management plan development.

The aim of the present study was to evaluate health risks in the Peppermint Grove initiative with reference to meeting the Western Australian (WA) and Australian Guidelines for recycling water in order to identify any potential adverse impacts on human health and the environment that need to be addressed.

The present research comprises a case study of Peppermint Grove where the latest technology in rainwater harvesting and wastewater treatment has been in use to achieve sustainable objectives. A case study of Peppermint Grove Council’s water recycling was undertaken to evaluate the grey water, yellow water, and brown water processing in regard to the WA and National guidelines.

The approximate volume of yellow water generated from the buildings was estimated as being between 110 litres to 135 litres per day (depending on low and high occupancy rates and the choice of water fixtures). The approximate volume of brown water generated from the buildings was estimated as being between 900 litres to 1700 litres per day (depending on low and high occupancy rates and the choice of water fixtures). The approximate volume of grey water generated from the buildings was estimated as being between 900 litres to 1100 litres per day (depending on low and high occupancy rates and the choice of water fixtures). Critical requirements that the regulatory authorities have highlighted need to be satisfied as part of the approvals process include the development of Operation and Maintenance Plans which effectively manage any risks associated with the systems, as well as evidence that funds will be made available for a regular maintenance program and asset replacement. However, yellow and brown water recycling, were not practically successful due to lack of support for maintenance and lack of funds for ongoing maintenance.

The study’s findings for grey water recycling, which was the greatest part of the existing scheme, were that Peppermint Grove Council was complying with the guidelines; and that for grey water, successive increases in levels of treatment results in reduced levels of risk associated with reuse. The findings for yellow and brown water recycling were that the council had failed to comply fully with the guidelines that govern this type of recycling.

There are several implications of this study: that the grey water recycling scheme was fully operational, but needed to improve in some areas to meet the guidelines; and that the yellow and brown water schemes failed, mainly due to maintenance and budgetary constraints.

Based on these findings, it appears that, at present, WA only has the capacity to successfully and commercially recycle grey water but not yellow or brown water.

Publication Type: Thesis (Other)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Engineering and Information Technology
Notes: Research masters with Training
Supervisor: Anda, Martin and Dallas, Stewart
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/33656
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