Today the NSW premier opened an effluent recycling facility south of Sydney which will provide up to seven billion litres of water a year to a local steel processing plant. That’s the equivalent of over 30,000 houses worth of potable water that is being preserved for alternate use.

But the story isn’t without a bit of drama, (it wouldn’t have made the news otherwise!)…

Massive NSW water recycling plant opens – Breaking News – National:

The Wollongong effluent recycling plant had been sitting idle for a year because of industrial bans by firefighters who would use the water in the event of a major fire at BlueScope’s plant.

Of course the government is going to give assurance, Sydney is rapidly running out of water, every drop counts. In other news, the NSW government has committed $1.7 million to setting up a rainwater harvesting project for some of the areas surrounding Sydney.

And just the other day I was complaining that governments need to look to other technologies and ideas, well this is a step in the right direction, but I still believe that the scale is larger than is truly sustainable, that smaller scale networks of solutions provide the best longer term security of water supply.

I’d like the government to invest more in getting residents to apply retrofitted rainwater tanks and more incentives to create localised rainwater networks. Not everyone who has a big roof has a big garden, it would be great to see localised water resource sharing where neighbours take an interest in their communities.

Water sharing communities might be the start of urban produce co-ops where residents are able to purchase fresh produce from local families, perhaps retired couples looking for a way to supplement their retirement income with a bit of cash from gardening.

Do I live in an idealised worldview, or is this possible?

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Published by Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.