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In Australia, the homes of the future use recycled water

Posted on 16 November 2017.

In the Sydney area, the Bingara Gorge housing estate is a landmark in sustainable housing. It owes this status to the wastewater recycling system built by Veolia.

Recycled water costs about 10% less than drinking water.

Since 2009, the town of Wilton in southwest Sydney, Australia, has been developing a new sustainable housing concept: “Bingara Gorge.” The 450 hectare residential project is being delivered by Lendlease, a leading property and construction developer specialising in residential community development. Essentially the size of a small town, it is expected to house approximately 5,000 people when completed in 2020. Bingara Gorge will comprise swimming pools, tennis courts, gyms, shops, restaurants and schools, as well as an 18-hole competition golf course. These are all water-intensive infrastructures, posing a key construction challenge, due to the region being regularly subjected to long periods of drought and extremely heavy rainfall at other times. 

How can this type of complex be built under such climatic conditions? All the infrastructure has been designed to be as impact-neutral on the environment as possible. This includes, among other things, eco-designed buildings, using solar energy, a waste reduction strategy, and, above all, short-loop recycling of wastewater which is a crucial issue for ensuring a sustainable supply of water for the entire housing estate.

400,000  litres of effluent recycled every day

Veolia was selected to deliver this challenge. In 2010, Veolia built a plant to recycle wastewater from Bingara Gorge. The effluent is treated according to a four-stage process:rotary biological contactor, ultra-filtration, UV disinfection, and chlorination. The result meets the most demanding standards for water recycling. The effluent from this temporary treatment plant was recycled to the golf course.  In 2017 Veolia commissioned the permanent treatment plant incorporating MBR, UV and Chlorination. Once purified the water from the permanent treatment plant  is re-injected into the housing estate’s various infrastructure, creating a circular loop. The water is used to irrigate the golf course, public gardens and parks, as well as in washing machines and sanitary facilities in homes.

The plant is currently recycling 400,000 litres of effluent each day and has been designed to adapt to population growth, and consequently the increase of wastewater. By 2020, it is expected to produce up to 1,000,000 litres of recycled water per day.

Lend Lease has developed Bingara Gorge based on a model of environmental sustainability. With water reuse and conservation front of mind, homes will use 50% less drinking water than standard homes and, as a bonus, recycled water costs about 10% less than drinking water. A mutually beneficial result for both the environment and households, but above all, it is hoped Bingara Gorge will encourage the development of future sustainable housing projects in the region ...

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