Sewage is a a combination of both greywater and blackwater. Blackwater is wastewater generated from a toilet, bidette or bidet which is heavily and directly contaminated with human faeces and/or urine and can be highly infectious when untreated. Greywater is from a shower, bath, washing machine or sink.
When appropriately treated, recycling the treated effluent can reduce the demand for drinking water and help protect the environment. It is produced every day so treated sewage may be a good alternative source of water when drinking water quality is not required.
Recycling sewage understandably requires a certain level of regulation, given the risks to health and environment when not treated or recycled properly. The compliance requirements are dependent on the proposed end use of the recycled water, the level of public access and the environmental issues associated with the recycled water scheme.
A number of guidelines exist and should be consulted to ensure that relevant requirements are met. More information on these and other relevant NSW recycled water guidelines can be found at the Metropolitan Water Directorate website.
The NSW Office of Water has developed new guidance and information sheets for local water utilities that are seeking approval for new or existing recycled water schemes. The Guidelines for Recycled Water Management Systems and a series of information sheets for provision of safe recycled water support the implementation of the preventive risk management approach in the Australian Guidelines for Recycled Water 2006 (AGWR).
The NSW Office of Water adopts this framework for assessing section 60 applications for approval to treat and supply recycled water under the Local Government Act 1993 and section 292 applications for approval to treat and discharge recycled water under the Water Management Act 2000.
The approvals required for a sewage recycling scheme will depend on the proponent, the source and intended use of the water, and the size and location of the scheme.
The current legislation relevant to recycled water schemes in NSW are listed below. Please note that this list is not exhaustive and it is the proponent's responsibility to confirm compliance with all regulatory requirements. Links to all legislation below can be found at www.legislation.nsw.gov.au.
Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 – for development approval
Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 – for further development approval details
Food Act 2003 – for suitability of food for sale for human consumption
Local Government (General) Regulation 2005 – clause 45 – for technical matters in relation to s68 approvals
Local Government Act 1993 – section 60 – for council schemes
Local Government Act 1993 – section 68 – for private schemes
NSW Code of Practice: Plumbing and Drainage – for work carried out
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 - for workplace health, safety and welfare
Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 – for pollution matters and environment protection licences
Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 – where an environment protection licence is required
Public Health Act 1991 – for prevention of public health risks
Water Industry Competition Act 2006 – licensing of private water recycling schemes.
NSW information sheets for Recycled Water Management Systems
- "It's Too Late!" The benefits of risk based prevention vs end point testing (PDF, 48.5 KB)
- Indicators, Reference Pathogens and Log10 Reductions: What does it all mean? (PDF, 56.19 KB)
- Calculating Log Reduction Values (PDF, 107.42 KB)
- Critical Control Points (CCPs) (PDF, 112.13 KB)
- Non-treatment barriers: End use and onsite controls (PDF, 45.11 KB)
- Types of Monitoring (PDF, 69.21 KB)
- Validation and Verification - What's the difference? (PDF, 137.67 KB)
- Getting chlorination right (PDF, 262.9 KB) - Updated
- User Agreements (PDF, 53.83 KB)
- Public Health Incident Notification and Response (PDF, 35.63 KB)
- On-site Sewage Management for Single Households (PDF 2.3 MB)
- On-site single domestic wastewater management – NSW Health
- Australian Guidelines for Water Recycling: Managing Health and Environmental Risks (phase 1) (2006)
- Interim NSW Guidelines for Management of Private Recycled Water Schemes
- Environmental Guidelines – Use of Effluent by Irrigation (PDF 504 KB)