Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Our Wastewater Is a Valuable, Recoverable Resource

By John Burgess

Australia can quickly turn our wastewater from a burden to a benefit.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Australia is literally wasting millions – maybe billions – of dollars each year by not extracting the full value of its wastewater.

Phosphorus, nitrogen and energy are necessary for life, and continued extraction of non-renewable forms of these resources is ultimately not possible. Each of these is contained in our wastewater, which is rich in nutrients, carbon, energy, and other inorganic and organic resources.

So how do we optimise this value and avoid wasting these water-borne resources, which have the proven potential to generate energy, produce fertilisers and save money?

The solutions to this waste are available to us now. They just require a strong focus on recognising the potential and implementing the technology. The upside is the financial returns available to those who grasp the challenge.

Population growth, increasing demand for natural resources, rising costs and community expectations place pressure on policy­makers to manage natural resources and require the water industry to develop innovative and more efficient processes.

Resource recovery can preserve original natural resources, minimise waste generation and maximise value creation from waste products.

The Academy of Technology, funded by the Australian Water Recycling Centre of Excellence, has recently completed a major investigation of the issue and...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.