Breaking psychological barriers to drinking recycled water

Reusing waste water for drinking is “a scientific no-brainer”, MDBA chairman Craig Knowles says.

drink recycled waste waterAn Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE)’s report on sustainable water management has found the use-once-and-dispose model for water is disappearing fast.

“The public appears deeply sceptical about drinking recycled water due to fears about health risk, despite scientific evidence of the safety of modern treatment processes,” the report says.

Mr Knowles said psychological barriers have held Australians back when it comes to considering broad options for water usage and resources, he said.

“We can get environmental, social and economic dividends without wrecking the landscape, and indeed creating the hope of a retooled, revitalised, food-producing district for another few generations,” he said.”

ATSE President Professor Robin Batterham said community attitudes to water were slow to change.

“On the urban side, people are starting to say, ‘Actually, reuse is smarter than what we’re doing now,'” he told AAP.

He pointed to innovative water solutions in place in Singapore and Hong Kong, saying Australians were now asking why they paid so much for urban water in comparison.

“Why are there restrictions on what we’re using when there are healthy alternatives?” he asked.

The ATSE report, funded by the Australian Research Council, is the first of three reports to apply a sustainable growth approach to key resource issues in the Australian economy.

Source: 9News (Neda Vanovac)

Drinking recycled waste water where the recycling systems are well maintained and operated by highly qualified technicians, should be no issue at all.  However, there could be health risks if this process were transferred to developing or ‘third world’ countries.  Safer alternatives would be to re-use or recycle grey water for irrigation purposes and harvest rain water for drinking water (after appropriate filtration to remove impurities).  South Africa is a water scarce country and in the midst of a water crisis.  Rainwater harvesting can be accomplished cheaply with a few rooftop diversion gutters and plastic water tanks (polyethylene water tanks).  If water stored in the tanks is to be used for drinking water, ensure that the water tanks are lined with a food grade liner, found in the better quality water tanks such as those manufactured by JoJo Tanks, South Africa.

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