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Recycling stormwater to battle the drought

Australia’s largest urban stormwater recycling scheme has been switched on in the city’s newest town centre, Green Square.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said thousands of Green Square residents will now be able to save tens of thousands of litres of precious drinking water.

Up to 320 million litres of polluted stormwater will be diverted from waterways each year as part of the $8 million scheme. The stormwater will be treated and piped directly into residential, commercial and community buildings.

Up to 900,000 litres of treated stormwater will be provided daily for use in washing machines, to flush toilets, and in parks and gardens.

“Once this scheme is up and running, we expect the area’s consumption of drinking water will be reduced by half – a significant saving during this current drought,” the Lord Mayor said.

“Not only will we be saving water, but reducing costs as well – it’s expected water bills will be cut for residents and businesses by 10 cents a kilolitre.

“This ‘taps on’ moment in Green Square is a very significant milestone for local governments across Australia. It shows that it’s possible to become a water sensitive city and to set – and achieve – the most ambitious sustainability goals in major urban developments like Green Square.

“Growing populations and high density living calls for an increased demand for water, not only to drink but to flush toilets, wash clothes, water gardens and irrigate parks.

“By treating polluted water so it can be used again, we are able to conserve our previous water supplies and prevent polluted water from flowing into our waterways.

“As well as providing recycled water to our community and cultural precinct and the City West affordable housing development, residential buildings will also be connected to the network – which means for the first time in Australia, residents will be able to move into their new apartments and use recycled stormwater from their taps.

“It’s a win-win for the community and the environment – combatting the effects of our changing climate, improving stormwater quality across our city and helping residents and businesses manage water prices.”

Positioned above a major stormwater flow path, the Green Square town centre is the perfect location for a recycled stormwater scheme.
Stormwater will be harvested from the two kilometre drain that runs underground from Epsom Road in Zetland to Alexandra Canal and pumped into a treatment plant at the former South Sydney Hospital site on Joynton Avenue.

The water will then be treated by a combination of high-tech ‘ultrafiltration’, which removes solids and pathogens, and ‘reverse osmosis’, which reduces its salt concentration, before being sent to two 500,000 litre underground storage tanks.

From there, the recycled water will be distributed around the town centre via a network of purpose-built purple pipes. Existing residential and City-owned buildings are already connected to the scheme, and new buildings throughout the area will be connected as they are completed.

The City contracted Flow Systems to build the scheme, and it will be operated by their private water utility, Green Square Water.

“It’s fantastic to be part of the vision created by the City – we are especially proud to be part of the pulse of Green Square. The recycled water centre forms part of the beating heart for the town centre,” said Terry Leckie, founder, Flow Systems.

“The Green Infrastructure Centre is a wonderful example of repurposing an historic building to deliver sustainable water and energy for the people of Green Square.”

When fully developed, the 278-hectare Green Square urban renewal area will accommodate close to 61,000 people living in 30,500 new homes, and provide around 21,000 permanent jobs.

The City is spending $540 million on extensive infrastructure and streetscaping works across the precinct, as well as new community facilities including a library and plaza, aquatic centre, creative centre and a childcare centre. Once complete, Green Square will also be home to 40 new parks.

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