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New water strategy for Sydney contemplates desalination and water reuse options

  • New water strategy for Sydney contemplates desalination and water reuse options

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The government of New South Wales has published the final Greater Sydney Water Strategy, which highlights the urgent need to invest in unconventional water sources, including additional desalination and large-scale wastewater recycling, reports The Guardian.

The strategy for Greater Sydney charts a direction for delivering sustainable and resilient water services to Greater Sydney for the next 20 to 40 years.

The strategy proposes increasing water conservation and efficiency as an immediate and cost-effective measure, as well as planning for new rainfall-independent supply sources to support growth and ensure resilience during drought.

About 93% of water in Sydney is used once and then discarded to sea after partial treatment. The strategy’s implementation plan for 2022-2025 calls for the construction and operation of a purified recycled water demonstration plant in the Sydney Basin by July 2023. It would show the public the available technology to purify water to drinking water level standard. The water would be initially used for non-potable reuse, such as greening and cooling.

Another measure contemplated is to amend the Sydney Desalination Plant operating rules to

provide flexible operation and optimise its contribution to water supply security and drought management by July 2023.

The strategy calls for community consultation to understand preferences for additional water supplies, including the use of purified recycled water and desalination.

In terms of surface water options such as new dams and dam augmentations, because they depend on rainfall, they may not be reliable in a changing climate. Whereas the existing dam network provides more than 80% of the water supply, rainfall-independent sources are though to provide greater water supply security in times of drought.

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