Making better recycled water investments

A national collaborative research project was undertaken by the Institute for Sustainable Futures, at the University of Technology in Sydney, to build industry capability to make better recycled water investment decisions. The project involved 12 partner organisations representing key stakeholder groups – utilities, developers, local authorities, technology providers and regulators.

The project developed a knowledge base, tools and guides for planners, investors and decision-makers.

Eight well-known Australian water recycling schemes are reviewed from an economic, operational, regulatory and environmental perspective. The case studies include a range of schemes – residential, industrial, commercial and irrigation – at different scales, for different end uses, under different public-private arrangements, and in different jurisdictions.

Case study ‘stories’ illustrate why context matters in every situation, and how the practical assessment of success often goes beyond financial measures of risks, costs and benefits.

In-depth learning from each scheme provides lessons to guide water recycling investment in Australia.

The case studies provide visually rich and engaging outputs, and reveal real stories based on interviews and experiences.

They will help:

  •  enable public and private proponents to build better business cases for recycling schemes, by doing a better job of accounting for risks, costs and benefits over the life of the scheme.
  • influence a revision of policies and guidelines that allow or constrain equitable allocation of the risks, costs, and benefits that flow from recycling.
The project found the objectives of many organisations involved in a water recycling scheme, and the context for the scheme, often changes. These shifts introduce risks and uncertainties which, unless identified and properly managed, can result in inequitable allocation of risks, increased costs and reduced benefits to stakeholders.

Research partners

ISF is grateful for the generous cash and in-kind support from our research partners. The 12 research partners involved in the project included:

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