Find out about this innovative process and how it will help to reduce our dependence on rainfall and secure our water supply for the future.
Climate change is having a profound impact on Western Australia. Hotter summers and lower rainfall means we must plan for our future by securing new, climate resilient water sources like groundwater replenishment to reduce our dependence on rain.
What is groundwater replenishment
Groundwater replenishment is an innovative concept where treated wastewater is further treated to drinking water standards and recharged into groundwater supplies.
The water can then be stored or 'banked' in the groundwater and taken out some time later for further treatment and supply to a drinking water system.
It doesn't rely on rainfall and has the potential to recycle large volumes of water naturally and sustainably.
Groundwater replenishment will help Perth by:
- reducing our dependence on rainfall as a source of water
- ensuring climate resilience by recycling water on a large scale
- potentially providing up to 20% of Perth's drinking water supplies by 2060 (if expanded to our other major wastewater treatment plants).
In 2012, we completed a three-year groundwater replenishment trial at our Advanced Water Recycling Plant in Craigie, which determined it could be used as a sustainable option to boost drinking water supplies.
The trial successfully achieved its three objectives to:
- Prove technical feasibility
- Establish a framework for policy and regulation
- Ensure sufficient community engagement and acceptance
The trial was overseen by regulators, the Department of Health, Department of Water, and Department of Environmental Regulation. They continue to regulate the full scale scheme.
Recycled water produced by the plant must meet Department of Health and Australian Drinking Water Guidelines before it is recharged.
Before wastewater reaches the Advanced Water Recycling Plant, it has already undergone rigorous treatment at the Beenyup Wastewater Treatment Plant.
This treatment removes chemicals and micro-organisms such as bacteria, nutrients, detergents, oils, pesticides and heavy metals.
At the plant, it undergoes further advanced treatment processes that included ultra filtration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet disinfection. This removes chemicals and micro-organisms to meet Australian guidelines for drinking water.
There are several water quality checkpoints (known as critical control points) throughout the treatment process to ensure each stage of the plant is working at an optimum levels.
If water does not meet the required standard when it reaches a check point, it triggers an alert for action to be taken. For example, we may have needed to divert the water to waste or temporarily shut down the plant.
How does it work?
Watch our video which explains how this innovative process works (or skip this video):
Read a transcript of this video (new window)
Groundwater Replenishment Scheme
On 14 July 2016, the State Government announced Australia's first Groundwater Replenishment Scheme will be expanded from 14 billion to 28 billion litres of water a year.
The first stage of the scheme is currently in the final stages of commissioning and will recharge 14 billion litres of recycled water each year into Perth's groundwater supplies through the Leederville and Yarragadee Aquifers
Find out more about the Groundwater Replenishment Scheme.
Subscribe to our six-monthly newsletter for the latest news on groundwater replenishment.