Water recycling turns to dust
By ANDY PARKS
A GROUND-BREAKING water recycling plant planned for the Perradenya community near Lismore is unlikely to go ahead.
Perradenya Estate residents told Rous Water at a meeting last week they had serious health concerns about water from the proposed treatment facility.
The issue will be eventually referred back to Lismore City Council, because the original development application for the community included a facility for recycling water.
Perradenya, at Caniaba, west of Lismore, has about 60 occupied houses and currently uses town water. But the original plan for the development called for a recycling facility to be built to treat all waste water to a drinking standard. That would have meant that residents could safely use the water for all domestic purposes.
Rous Water had hoped to introduce the system and carry out extensive research on the on-site treatment system, but three years ago they revised the plan because it was deemed 'not cost efficient'.
The revised plan was to treat the water to a lower standard, making it suitable only for purposes such as flushing toilets and some garden watering.
Elisa Backer, a resident on Rous Water's Community Consultation Group, said as Rous Water was now recommending not to proceed with the plant, it should look at installing rainwater tanks for all houses in the community.
"This has the advantage of providing water that does not pose the same health risks as the reduced quality recycled water, and is far more economical," she said.
"This would cost around $300,000 instead of $2 million, with no ongoing costs. Those added costs would end up being passed on the consumer."
Some community members have said they wouldn't use recycled water for anything other than flushing their toilet, and would extend the length of their hoses to use the non-recycled water for all other applications.
"It is unrealistic to expect residents to use different hoses to water different plants within their garden," Ms Backer said.
She said the recycled water would not be suitable for watering vegetables or fruit trees and not suitable for any activities involving young children.
"Trying to keep young children away from the water when watering the garden or washing the car is unrealistic," Ms Backer said. "Parents who have young children naturally involve their children in their regular activities as a way of keeping an eye on them.
"If there are risks, no matter how small, who wants to accept those risks?"
A survey of Perradenya residents by Rous Water showed only five households in the community supported using recycled water in the estate.
A report by Rous Water operation service manager Wayne Franklin said the decision to abandon the treatment plant was likely to result in compensation claims from some residents who had installed dual reticulation systems for their houses, and from a minority of residents who believed Rous Water had a legal and moral obligation to proceed with the plant.