The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) is pressuring the government to consider a direct potable reuse (DPR) system for recycled drinking water. Unlike other water recycling solutions, this involves injecting 'reclaimed' waste-water directly into the potable water supply distribution system. It sounds icky, but it could lead to a vast improvement in water resource management that doesn't rely on rain.
Water picture from Shutterstock
DPR involves the purification of wastewater to remove hazardous substances such as pathogens and toxic chemicals. The process incorporates a form of reverse osmosis that involves forcing feed water through semi-permeable membranes under pressure. The results are then disinfected and blended with conventionally sourced water prior to delivery to consumers.
"Direct potable reuse (DPR) — recycling directly to the drinking water distribution system — should be considered as a viable water resource management strategy alongside other supply options around Australia," the ATSE urged in a summary of its findings.
"There are many potential benefits to adopting direct potable reuse, including lower energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, lower capital and operational costs, and a more robust, climate-independent water supply."
This can be achieved by injecting the recycled water either be into a service reservoir or directly into water pipelines. According to ATSE, adopting a large-scale DPR solution would have considerable environmental, economic, and community benefits to all Australians.
The ATSE report notes that government agencies would need to implement "health-based targets" for water quality as the primary regulatory objective. It also acknowledges that DPR would not be capable of meeting all demand for drinking water, so the use of additional water sources would remain essential.
How would you feel about drinking recycled water directly from the tap? Do you trust in science, or is this something that civilians should be able to opt out of? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.