Aiming to build a more sustainable residential development, the City of Port Phillip investigated the incorporation of alternative water sources for internal use within the proposed Balaclava community housing project. These alternative water sources included rainwater collected from rooftops, stormwater collected from paved surfaces, and greywater from bathroom sinks, showers, baths and washing machines.
From a technical perspective the collection, treatment and distribution of the proposed alternative water sources was feasible. However significant uncertainty surrounded issues such as quality, regulation and indoor use of these alternative water sources.
The City of Port Phillip gained funding through the Smart Water Fund to identify regulatory gaps and risks associated with using alternative water sources in a community housing project. This project acts as research and a feasibility study.
Government and industry professionals assessed risks associated with alternative water sources and other issues including collection, storage, treatment and appropriate end use.
The project was originally designed as a demonstration site collecting and treating stormwater, greywater and rainwater for re-use in toilets, showers and washing machines.
The absence of regulatory guidance, water quality knowledge and risk awareness, particularly relating to stormwater and greywater recycling, meant that the demonstration aspects of the project were amended.
The project identified a need for greater regulatory guidance in utilising alternative water sources in residential developments, particularly for stormwater. More work needs to be done to determine stormwater quality and risk factors associated with various stormwater catchments and end use to receive broad re-use acceptance from Department of Human Services and EPA Victoria.
This project illustrates the potential for substituting recycled stormwater, greywater and rainwater in place of drinking quality water. Collecting and recycling stormwater and rainwater can reduce destructive peak flows and contaminants entering waterways during heavy rains. Reusing greywater reduces the load on the sewage system and the marine environment. “This project helps identify gaps in regulation, knowledge and accountability that need to be addressed in order to realise the water saving potential of residential development projects,” said Gary Spivak, Housing Development Officer, City of Port Phillip.