The potential to capture and harness stormwater has been identified as a key opportunity in developing strategies for long-term sustainable water management. The search is on to find cost effective and efficient means of storing winter rainfall and stormwater to help meet water usage needs.
Aquifers have already proven to be a successful option for storing stormwater on a commercial scale in other parts of Australia. These underground formations allow water to percolate through them and act as natural storage facilities.
There is great potential for aquifers to help meet Melbourne’s water demands by accessing water that, in the past, literally went down the drain.
A Smart Water Fund grant was awarded to assist CSIRO for the development of aquifer storage systems in Victoria.
This two-stage project involves mapping potential aquifer sites in the Melbourne metropolitan area.
One site will then be developed as a demonstration site to facilitate the creation of an assessment framework and protocols for future sites.
The project also involves the development of a Code of Practice. Based on a commercial scale model in South Australia, it will be adapted following local industry consultation to suit Melbourne conditions.
The working example of aquifer technology delivered by the Smart Water Fund grant will provide vital knowledge including:
- Identification of areas where demand for water of various qualities is greatest
- Identification of where aquifers could replace or supplement mains supplies
- Identification of the location of other sources of water such as creeks, drains and trunk sewers where sewage treatment is possible
- Requirements of a Code of Practice to support a licensing framework and to build operational knowledge and experience
Many groups will benefit from this information including water businesses, developers and local and state government planners. The lessons learnt also will be of particular relevance to new greenfield urban developments.
The development of this knowledge will contribute to important future water storage options, with widespread benefits to all Victorians. The experience of aquifers in South Australia validates this expectation for future benefits for Victoria.
“Several Adelaide aquifer storage operations are successfully producing water for less than half the cost of mains water, and we know that Melbourne has better storage capacity than Adelaide,” says CSIRO Project Manager Dr Peter Dillon.
Adelaide’s eight sites are operating with a current total storage and recovery of 1000ML per year and have a potential increase to 20,000 ML per year.
In Melbourne, storage zones of 10,000ML have been found on the city’s perimeter with the potential to provide multi-layer storage capacity.
‘This project has opened the way for stormwater harvesting and recycling.’ said Dr Dillon. ‘It will deliver critical information about aquifer storage and recovery that will help us develop a whole range of innovative treatment and reuse technologies in the future.’