Australian research to help water-reuse investment

The Australian Water Recycling Centre of Excellence announced on 13 August 2012 two new research projects to improve understanding of the costs, benefits and risks that impact on investment in recycling options in Australia.

CEO Dr Mark O’Donohue said more than Aus$ 1 million (US$ 1.05 million) has been granted by the organisation for research that will examine the true value of water recycling.

O’Donohue explained that, although Australia had begun to embrace water‑reuse initiatives, there was a gap in fully measuring the benefits of these projects which hindered further funding.

“We believe it is time to bring together the diverse research, industry and utility experience Australia has built up to evaluate the qualitative and quantitative benefits of and impediments to water recycling,” the centre CEO continued. “Our goal is to use this knowledge to improve policy, planning and future investment, and to more equitably distribute the costs, benefits and risks of recycling.”

O’Donohue said the research should refine the approaches to investment decisions, helping key players to assess where recycling made sense. This would improve the capacity for building business cases and the financial performance of water-recycling schemes.

The University of Technology Sydney will use national case-studies to uncover the full range of actual environmental, economic and social costs, benefits and risks of water recycling. Their project includes representatives of all the key players in water recycling: utilities, regulators, developers, councils and technology suppliers.

A second study led by Marsden Jacob Associates will develop the first national framework for the economic assessment of new schemes. This project aims to fill the need for a national framework, review specific case-studies and provide detailed advice on the circumstances and locations in which recycled water schemes are most likely to be economically feasible.