26 September 2023

Auditor dry on recycled water

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A performance audit into whether responsible Agencies had increased their use of recycled water to meet future water demand has found that they had not.

In his Report, Supplying and Using Recycled Water, Auditor-General, Andrew Greaves said he examined whether the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA), Barwon Water and the City of Greater Geelong had effectively developed and implemented strategies to increase recycled water use.

“The Victorian Government estimates that the demand for water could exceed our supply in some areas of Victoria as early as this decade due to population growth and climate change,” Mr Greaves said.

“To prevent this, the water sector must take further action to increase our water supply and efficiency,” he said.

“Optimising recycled water use will help to address this risk by reducing the pressure on drinking water.”

Mr Greaves said recycled water use had not increased over the past decade and many Victorians had a limited understanding of water security and the risks and benefits of using recycled water.

“Responsible Agencies can help to overcome this by directing more of their effort to community education,” he said.

“But there are also some known and potential regulatory, economic and physical barriers to recycled water uptake that can be addressed.”

The Auditor-General said the Agencies were actively engaging with the community to understand risks and opportunities for recycled water.

“They are also working together to identify and deliver water recycling projects,” he said.

Mr Greaves made three recommendations to DELWP, one to improve community understanding and two about measuring and reporting recycled water use.

He also made one recommendation to EPA about developing guidelines for using recycled water for environmental flows.

The Auditor-General’s 65-page Report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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