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Economic Value and Assessment

Economic viability of recycled water schemes report Economic viability of recycled water schemes report (1966 KB)

Value of recycled water infrastructure to the residents of Rouse Hill Value of recycled water infrastructure to the residents of Rouse Hill (688 KB)

Community values for recycled water in Sydney Community values for recycled water in Sydney (3246 KB)

Environmental and social values associated with non-potable recycled water Environmental and social values associated with non-potable recycled water (683 KB)

Economic assessment tool brochure Economic assessment tool brochure (1185 KB)

Industries and communities across Australia are increasingly embracing water recycling as a key response to sustainability and water security drivers. However, sustainable and efficient investment in water recycling requires information about the full range of water recycling impacts and risks. Gaps in this knowledge continue to limit effective business case development.In consultation with industry and government, this project has developed an economic framework to assess non-potable recycled water schemes, including residential, industrial, municipal and agricultural schemes. The two most prominent barriers to the implementation of these schemes have been the relative cost of recycled water compared to other water sources and the commercial risk, in particular demand risk. In addition, Marsden Jacob Associates carried out a choice modelling study of Sydney households to estimate the economic value they place on the indirect benefits of recycled water.

This project filled the need for a national framework, reviewed specific case studies, and provided detailed advice on the circumstances and locations in which recycled water schemes are most likely to be economically feasible. It was awarded the AWA Western Australia’s Water Award for Research Innovation for 2014.

This project produced the report Economic viability of recycled water schemes for non-potable use describing the holistic framework for rigorously assessing the economics of non-potable recycled water schemes.

The framework and planning tool uses cost-benefit analysis for evaluating non-potable recycled water projects, with total economic value used to assess the value of costs and benefits. Total economic value includes both use values (the value of using recycled water) and non-use values (an individual’s willingness to contribute to the cost of water recycling, even if they will not use the water from the scheme). Non-use values may include environmental benefits or a community preference for ‘sustainable’ water management.


Additional funding was provided by the Centre and the Victorian Government Business Innovation Fund to develop the economic guidance tool to allow better assessment of the commercial and
economic aspects of recycled water schemes in Australia. The tool allows users to undertake a cost benefit analysis to quantify a range of economic, social and environmental benefits, and costs for
recycled water schemes. The excel-based system allows assessment of alternative water recycling options, primarily for non-potable purpose.The assessment tool has been applied by regional councils undertaking recycling projects at Mt Isa, Parkes and Coffs Harbour. It was used to assess managed aquifer recharge schemes at Alice Springs, Anglesea, Bolivar, and Beenyup. The Water Corporation in WA and the NSW Office of Water endorsed the recycled water economic framework and tool as a best-practice guide for industry, particularly councils and water utilities in regional Australia without easy access to economic expertise or consultants.


Lead organisation: Marsden Jacobs Associates
Partner organisations: Hunter Water
Australian National University

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