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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 11 Hansard (21 October) . . Page.. 3874 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

Overseas, Florida is already reusing 34 per cent of its water and California is reusing 63 per cent. Both parts of the United States are seeking even higher levels of reuse.

I understand that the ACT has tentatively explored water reuse through several trials, initially at ADFA, where treated water was being used to water grassed areas and currently through reuse trials where water is also used indoors for flushing toilets, but these schemes reuse only a tiny fraction of our waste water and the ACT has not yet committed to a water reuse target. Hopefully, that will be part of the strategy that will be released soon.

The water reuse efforts in Victoria and the United States are to be commended, but they have adopted a very expensive approach. They treat waste water to a level below that suitable for drinking and the recycled water is distributed through a dedicated piping system and exclusively used for outdoor watering. The cost of duplicating the water distribution network is quite substantial and that has made the economics of water recycling quite unattractive. It may well be a better approach to treat all waste water to drinking water quality and redistribute it through the ordinary water supply network, creating a closed loop system.

On 5 June 2002, this Assembly resolved that, as far as possible, the water leaving the ACT by river should be of a quality just as good as that of the water flowing into the ACT. If this were happening, we could be directly reusing our own treated water. Alternatively, or in addition to large-scale treatment for reuse, local water recycling strategies could be utilised for new residential developments. Model houses have been built in Australia to demonstrate how households could be entirely self-sufficient in water by capturing rainfall and treating and reusing water waste on site.

Yes, Canberra does have a lower rainfall than many of our coastal cities, so self-sufficiency could be achieved only by an extremely frugal household, but local rainfall capture could reduce the demand on our reservoirs by at least 20 per cent, even without adopting new household water conservation measures.

The approach of treating all waste water to the highest possible standard is analogous to the proposed approach for achieving the ACT's no waste to landfill goal. I think that we need to remember that this was an innovative approach that was taken, but we are looking like we are going to reach it. There are some things that need to be fixed in terms of ACT waste to achieve that goal, but it is something that we are committed to and are still striving to achieve.

Similarly, we could be working with water to reach a no waste water target. The high-quality effluent released from the Lower Molonglo Water Quality Centre already forms part of Adelaide's drinking water supply, illustrating that health risks can be eliminated or at least contained.

Although we could largely supply our water needs by treating waste water, some water would be naturally lost through garden watering and other evaporation, so additional input would be necessary. The untreated stormwater that runs off our roofs, roads and paved services currently discharges into our lakes, lowering water quality in the waterways downstream. This stormwater could be captured and treated and the volume available would be more than adequate to compensate for the water lost from our

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