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Recycling of Water Goes Backwards

Article by Daniel Mercer in 'The West Australian'




Claims by Water Minister Bill Marmion that WA was on track to increase its recycled water production have come under fire after it emerged that efforts to re-use wastewater in Perth were going backwards.

Unveiling the new $366 million Alkimos wastewater treatment plant in Perth's north yesterday, Mr Marmion said there was a "strong possibility that in the future as much (water) as possible will be recycled".

But his comments were challenged by the Greens and Opposition with findings by the State's economic watchdog that the amount of water recycled in Perth had fallen last financial year to just 6.1 per cent.

In its latest performance audit of the State's water service providers, the Economic Regulation Authority reported that the total recycled water supplied by the Water Corporation in Perth fell almost 100 million litres to 7.5 billion litres.

The result compounds the reversal recorded the previous year, when the amount of recycled water fell by 400 million litres, and comes despite an overall rise in recycling efforts across the State.

Mr Marmion said recycling would depend on the outcome of a three-year, $50 million trial to inject 3.6 billion litres of treated wastewater into groundwater in Perth'snorth.

He said that if the pilot project was successful it could be expanded to recycle between 30 billion and 100 billion litres annually, which would exceed the Water Corporation's recycling target of 30 per cent by 2030.

Greens MP Alison Xamon said the 30 per cent target was too far off and needed to be brought forward.

She said it was unacceptable that 100 billion litres of treated wastewater was released into the ocean off Perth every year.

"The minister must not be content with making vague platitudes about water recycling - he actually needs to make it happen," she said.

Shadow water minister Fran Logan said the early signs from the aquifer recharge trial had been promising and proved the technology should be rolled out "as quickly as possible".

"Economically it makes sense and from an environmental point of view it makes enormous sense (because) we can't keep sucking water out of our aquifers and dams and using it once," he said.

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