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Wastewater reuse in food production systems for new sustainable urban developments

Davies, Bohdan (2016) Wastewater reuse in food production systems for new sustainable urban developments. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Urban housing developments face growing pressure from the public and regulatory bodies to be more sustainable in their built form, energy and water consumption. This is currently achieved through application of better building design and implementation of various technologies to reduce environmental impacts. However the aspects of food production and wastewater treatment and reuse, are not common aspects of these new developments in Western Australia. Designing these features into new residential developments could bolster resiliency, whilst also decreasing the net ecological footprints of these sites, and urban areas as a whole.

This projects focus is to the fundamental limits of nutrient cycling, derived from wastewater, to produce food in new urban developments. Variables of waste nutrient inflows of phosphorus and nitrogen were the primary focus, but factors of locality, water, energy and community acceptance were developed. The paper presents system metrics appropriate for the case study; Landcorp’s White Gum Valley (WGV)a residential urban development in Perth Western Australia.

Key findings of the study showed urine separation offering the most beneficial method for nutrient reuse for food production in new residential urban developments. The modelled case study of a urine reuse system giving a potential food production output satisfying 3.5% of the population's total dietary metabolic energy needs, this being 98% of the recommended vegetable intake for the population. This production potential projected to be achieved with a capture of ~40% of the total populations production of urine and utilising 0.25ha of land area. With a number of assumptions, ~44000MJ/Y and ~935kl/Y of energy and water respectively may be saved from the implementation of such a system. The proposal of closed containment of urine throughout the separation and reuse scheme, alleviates odour issues before application, and reduces human pathogen and virus exposure risks. Payback periods of such a system are projected to be>24 years though are highly dependent on the marketability of food produce grown with human wastewater. The feasibility of such a project with marketability of produce will require further market investigation; however the value of creating closed loop nutrient cycles goes beyond financial gain, and is suggested as a way forward in creating sustainable urban developments.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Engineering and Information Technology
Supervisor(s): Cord-Ruwisch, Ralf
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