DecisionsA national collaborative research project “Building industry capability to make recycled water investment decisions” was undertaken by the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF), at the University of Technology Sydney, for the Australian Water Recycling Centre of Excellence (AWRCoE). ISF brought on board 12 partner organisations, representing all the key stakeholder groups – utilities, developers, local authorities, technology providers and regulators – and would like to publicly acknowledge and thank those organisations for their fulsome collaboration, contributing financially and experientially to the research.

The project sought to shape the knowledge base and future actions of key investors and decision makers in recycled water, through detailed investigation of wide-ranging case studies, learning from what has happened on the ground

  • at different scales
  • for different end uses
  • under different public-private arrangements
  • and in different jurisdictions

with respect to the risks, costs, and benefits that actually matter in the long run.

Both our case study approach and our visually rich and engaging outputs were designed to reveal the real stories behind experiences to date, in order to:

  1. enable public and private proponents to build better business cases for recycling schemes, by doing a better job of accounting for risks, costs and benefits over the life of the scheme
  2. influence revisions of key policies and guidelines that allow or constrain equitable allocation of the risks, costs, and benefits that flow from recycling.

The ‘stories’ revealed by our investigations of diverse existing water recycling projects illustrated why context matters in every situation, and how the practical assessment of success or otherwise goes beyond economics.

The range of case studies and subsequent resources and outputs are represented in the image below with direct links to each of the case studies, emerging themes and policy paper.

Darling Quarter Yatala Wide Bay Water Roseville Rosehill Aurora Wagga Wagga Willunga Basin Water Navigating the institutional maze Saving water and spending energy? Demand forcasting: a risky business Matching treatment to risk Public-private matters: how who is involved influences outcomes Looking to the future Policy Paper Making better recycled water investment decisions

Figure 1. Illustrated link between case studies themes and resource papers

About the Australian Water Recycling Centre of Excellence

The mission of the Australian Water Recycling Centre of Excellence is to enhance management and use of water recycling through industry partnerships, build capacity and capability within the recycled water industry, and promote water recycling as a socially, environmentally and economically sustainable option for future water security.

The Australian Government provided $20 million to the Centre through its National Urban Water and Desalination Plan to support applied research and development projects which meet water recycling challenges for Australia’s irrigation, urban development, food processing, heavy industry and water utility sectors. This funding has levered an additional $40 million investment from more than 80 private and public organisations, in Australia and overseas.