30/01/2017 - 14:51

Water West offers supply solution

30/01/2017 - 14:51

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SPECIAL REPORT: Developers are turning to wastewater recycling to ensure they can deliver lush public open space in their estates.

Water West offers supply solution
Rob Breden says the deregulation of water supply in WA in 2012 has provided the opportunity for the private sector to address the city’s water challenge. Photo: Attila Csaszar

SPECIAL REPORT: Developers are turning to wastewater recycling to ensure they can deliver lush public open space in their estates.

Predicted population growth in Perth has provided a significant water supply challenge – current infrastructure delivers around 300 gigalitres of water each year to Perth, but it is getting close to capacity.

A report released last year by ACIL Allen Consulting indicated that, by 2050, the city would need more than 438 gigalitres per annum, more than double what the current infrastructure can supply.

As a result, developers across Perth have been restricted in what they can offer residents in terms of public space in new estates, with lush grassed areas replaced by native planting and hardstand areas.

However, private utility Water West, which is backed by Azure Capital and Brookfield Infrastructure, is offering a solution – wastewater recycling.

“We are short on water and we’ve actually been lucky that we haven’t had the more draconian restrictions that we’ve seen on the east coast, where they haven’t been able to water their gardens for months,” Water West director of strategy and business development, Rob Breden, said.

“We are pretty close to that brown-park scenario, but the positive out of all of that is we have all this wastewater that we are currently not capturing or recycling.

“It’s not a case that we have a shortage of water or a shortage of water resources, it’s more a case that we’re not doing the most that we can with it.”

Water West’s water recycling solutions include the localised treatment of wastewater to create the supply necessary to irrigate public open space and sports fields throughout residential developments.

For developers, Mr Breden said, the ability to add extra amenity in an increasingly competitive market was becoming key to achieving sales.

However, he said wastewater recycling wasn’t necessarily about sustainability or efficiency measures for consumers, simply because the system was not set up to send water back to homes.

If the developer chose to, it could provide a cost saving to the consumer of around 10 to 20 per cent on their overall water bills if wastewater was piped back to homes to be used to flush toilets or water lawns.

“But at the moment there is no subsidy to households or to a developer for putting a third pipe back to homes,” Mr Breden said.

“I think with what’s happened with solar and the problems of that scheme, I don’t think we’ll see that any time soon.”

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