Economic Value and Assessment

Making better recycled water investments – a website with on-line tools to help water utilities, government agencies and private companies invest in recycled water projects – is available here.

Any water recycling scheme incurs a range of positive and negative impacts which manifest as costs, benefits and risks to a variety of stakeholders. Learning from the experiences of operational recycling schemes, investigating what those costs, benefits and risks have been, and how the experiences on the ground differed from what was planned or predicted are important for future investment decisions. This project aimed to improve the capability of water service providers and other key stakeholders to build robust business cases for water recycling schemes.

The goal of this project was to facilitate more transparent and equitable sharing of costs, risks and benefits, as well as better planning for uncertainties that might arise as schemes progress. Our research sought to fill knowledge gaps through analysing and sharing empirical information about the actual costs, benefits and risks of recycled water projects. A series of case studies from across Australian jurisdictions highlight the water recycling investment decisions: what were the anticipated impacts, and what actual costs, benefits and risks eventuated? The research focused on schemes at cluster or precinct scale and larger, supplying residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural demands. Cases spanned a range of technologies for capture, treatment and distribution of recycled water from sewage, grey water or storm-water.

This research was undertaken by the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney, in close partnership with a dozen organisations representing the full spectrum of the diverse interests, roles and responsibilities in water recycling.

This project launched a website ( for users to access its products, and presented at forums and conferences to ensure people are aware of their availability. The project’s insights are captured in:

  • Eight lively case study stories
  • Six short, targeted theme papers addressing common, cross-cutting issues
  • A policy paper, reviewing how legislation, regulations and policies shape outcomes
  • Guidance materials that bring together the lessons learned, and show how others can apply the insights to improve the planning and operation of their recycling schemes.

An Investment Guide illustrates, through the case studies, how proponents can make better investment decisions, as risks, benefits and ownership can often change over the life of a project.





There are a number of urban and regional councils, state water regulators, and private engineering, consulting companies and utilities already using these resources to learn from the lessons of past investment planning, and using the investment guide to improve the business cases of new recycled water projects: the NSW Office of Water is using the case studies for a NSW Guide for Water Recycling Systems to assist local councils, utilities and developers; the Office of Living Victoria is using the case studies and investment guides as part of their review of integrated water cycle management in Victoria.


Lead organisation: Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney
Partner organisations: Sydney Water Corporation
Hunter Water Corporation
Yarra Valley Water
Ku-ring-gai Council
NSW Office of Water
Lend Lease
Queensland Department of Energy and Water Supply
WJP Solutions
Sydney Coastal Councils Group
Water Services Association of Australia

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