Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Would you drink recycled sewage? Toowoomba in Australia is considering it.
Residents of a drought-stricken Australian town of Toowoomba will vote this week on whether they're prepared to drink water recycled from sewage (yummy) the first such scheme in the country and one of only a handful in the world.
The town of Toowoomba in the state of Queensland is DIVIDED about drinking recycled water, although the town has faced water restrictions for a decade.
Local Mayor Dianne Thorley, who is leading the "Yes" campaign, said that without drought-breaking rains the town's dams could dry up within two years.
She insisted the 73 million dollar (US 55 million dollar) plan to pump purified wastewater back into the main reservoir for drinking was safe.
peline to be built to bring water from a nearby reservoir.
"Somewhere, sometime we have got to stand up and change the way we are doing things," she told AFP as the town prepared for the July 29 referendum.
"Otherwise our great grandchildren are going to be living in something like the Sahara desert."
A vocal "No" campaign opposes the proposal, and says there are unforeseeable health risks for the town's 100,000 residents.
"The scientists say it should be safe," said local councillor Keith Beer, one of three members of the nine-strong council that opposes the plan. "That is not good enough for me, for my kids and my grandkids."
Toowoomba City Council says the solution is recycling effluent and pumping it back into reservoirs for drinking a system known as planned indirect potable reuse.
The wastewater would pass through seven cleansing and treatment processes including ultraviolet disinfection, advanced oxidation and ultrafiltration before being pumped into the town's Cooby Dam.
It would remain in the reservoir for up to three years for testing, before being pumped through the town's existing water treatment plant.
Similar schemes are up and running elsewhere in the world.
Since 1976, authorities in Orange County, California have injected purified wastewater into an undergroud aquifer (no tap water for me at Disneyland) and since 1978, the Occoquan Reservoir in North Virginia has been topped up with recycled water.
In Singapore, one percent of supply has come from recycled water since 2003. But opponents say the scale of the Toowoomba project, under which 25 percent of the town's supply would be recycled, is unprecedented.
"Nowhere else in the world deliberately drinks water reclaimed from sewage to the degree proposed by Toowoomba," the No campaign website says. "Any water supply for over 100,000 people should use tried and proven methods. We are not guinea pigs."
Maybe they can recycle the sewage for watering purposes and pipe in water from another place? I would have to buy a lot of bottled water if I lived near Toowoomba if this passes through......
Would you drink recycled water?
***Update*** The residents of Toowoomba voted against the proposal surprisingly enough.
Posted by Rob Good at 4:26 PM