The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and Flow Systems have partnered up on an innovative water recycling project they say reveals how water recycling can thrive in cities and urban settings, even in times of drought.
UTS is tapping into water sourced from Flow Systems’ wastewater recycling plant, which is located across the road at the Central Park development at Broadway in Sydney. The water is suitable for irrigation, toilet flushing, cooling towers and other non-drinking uses.
Flow Systems has the ultimate capacity to produce 900 kilolitres of recycled water each day – enough to fill 2.5 Olympic-size swimming pools per week. The surplus of recycled water will now be pumped across Broadway to UTS Central, dramatically reducing its own potable water use.
“This innovative partnership with the neighbouring plant enabled the UTS Central building to meet its Green Star requirements without having to install a very large water tank to capture rainwater that would have reduced the size of the Tech Labs,” says UTS green infrastructure project manager Jonathan Prendergast. “Not only did this save space and construction costs, recycled water from wastewater is more reliable than from rainwater, particularly in droughts.”
Until now, water recycling schemes have only delivered water within their immediate precinct.
To connect the Flow Systems plant to the basement of UTS Central, horizontal drills burrowed a path under Broadway to make way for pipes. With the tap officially turned on, recycled water will now flow to the UTS campus to be used for landscaping, toilet flushing and in cooling towers. Other campus uses are currently being investigated.
“We hope this partnership sets a precedent that will encourage the development of more water recycling projects in urban environments,” says Flow Systems CEO Terry Leckie. “Flow is committed to challenging the status quo to deliver sustainable, resilient and financially beneficial utilities solutions that give local communities greater control and this is a perfect example.”
It’s expected that the partnership will reduce UTS’s potable water use by around 40,000 kilolitres – or 16 Olympic-sized swimming pools – each year.
“With many parts of New South Wales considered drought-affected, water recycling projects that reduce potable water use are increasingly important,” says UTS deputy vice chancellor, Resources, Patrick Woods. “In an urban context they have the potential to increase the resilience of neighbourhoods, providing continuous water supply even in dry conditions, while easing the pressure on the regional water network.”
Leckie says UTS is showing strong leadership in this space. “Due to the dense nature of its campus in Broadway, UTS has had to find new ways to achieve sustainability. While we have many customers of our recycled water services in our precincts around NSW, this is the first time we have been able to export the benefits of recycled water to a customer outside a development precinct.”