Science innovation to address Perth's future water supply. Groundwater replenishment could supply up to 20 per cent of Perth's drinking water needs.

The challenge

Increasing pressure on water supplies

The pressure on water supplies in Western Australia is greater than ever due to a drying climate and ever-increasing population.

Our scientists recently investigated how recycling water from treated wastewater can provide a cost effective and energy efficient way to ease this pressure.

Our response

Trialing groundwater replenishment

Groundwater replenishment is an innovative process where treated wastewater is further treated to drinking water standards and recharged into groundwater supplies (aquifers). The water is then stored or 'banked' in the ground and taken out some time later for further treatment and supply to a drinking water system.

In close collaboration with Curtin University, CSIRO provided detailed research to underpin a groundwater replenishment trial in Perth, conducted by Western Australia's Water Corporation.

Researchers established that groundwater replenishment did not adversely affect groundwater quality and would provide water of drinking water quality.

The engagement

During the trial, our scientists supplied the Water Corporation with more than a decade of research into groundwater replenishment. The trial involved extensive water quality testing and monitoring, as well as active engagement with stakeholders and the community, primarily through face-to-face methods to increase understanding of the process, and build trust.

The results

Confidence to implement groundwater replenishment

The results of this innovative trial gave confidence to both the State Government and people of Perth that groundwater replenishment is a safe water supply option for the future.

In August 2013, the State Government announced that groundwater replenishment would become the next climate independent water source for Perth.

Water Corporation has now started work on Australia's first full-scale groundwater replenishment scheme. The new advanced water recycling plant will treat up to 14 billion litres of water per year, and can be expanded to a capacity of 28 billion litres over several years as demand increases.

In WA's dry climate, this provides a secure, rainfall independent water source that can supply up to 20 per cent of Perth's future drinking water needs by 2060.

The Groundwater Replenishment Trial has won a number of awards including the Australian Institute of Project Management 2013 Achievement Award for Sustainable Projects, the WA Engineering Excellence 2013 Award for Management of Engineering, and the WA Water Award for Infrastructure and Innovation. It was also a finalist in the Climate Adaptation category of the 2013 Banksia Sustainability Awards.

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