Recycled water is safe to use, says study

April 1st, 2008 - 4:21 pm ICT by admin  

Sydney, April 1 (IANS) Recycled water has not caused illness anywhere in the world and is safe to use, according to a new study. The study, by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), found that modern water treatment processes could safely filter out microbes to a level where they were no longer harmful to human health.

As a result, said CSIRO scientist Simon Toze, there is great scope for increasing use of wastewater.

This includes harvesting more stormwater, treating industrial discharges, re-using grey water in homes from laundry and bathroom water, and even treating sewage effluent for a range of uses - though not for drinking, ScienceAlert reported.

Toze said research was now at the fine-tuning stage of improving water quality, adding that water in Australia was treated to such a high level that would be regarded as excessive by some overseas proponents of recycling.

“In all the work done in the world, nobody has ever brought up a health risk where somebody has fallen sick from recycled water,” he said. “We don’t believe it is a problem.”

He said the science was now focusing on improving the efficiency of water treatment processes by reducing energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

Other research was looking into how the filtering effects of reservoirs and aquifers removed pathogens.

Treated recycled water could be used to recharge aquifers in a properly managed way, he suggested.

“It can be treated to a level where it can be put back into a reservoir or aquifer and eventually, 10 or 15 years later, it comes back into the drinking water,” he said.

Toze, a microbiologist, has focussed his research on the behaviour of microbial pathogens in groundwater and biogeochemical changes following managed aquifer recharge.

Toze was among speakers at a forum looking into the use of wastewater recycling held at the University of Western Australia.

Other speakers included former Toowoomba Mayor Dianne Thorley, who made headlines with her push to introduce recycled sewage into the Queensland town’s drinking water.

Though Toowoomba voted against the proposal in a 2006 referendum, the city will be connected to Brisbane’s recycled water supply by 2009 as part of a Queensland state initiative.

Some states of Australia have a target of sourcing 30 percent of their water supply from recycled water by 2030.

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