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Olympic Park setting the Trend for Australian Water Reclamation Projects

“Did you know that Sydney Olympic Park has been reclaiming water since 2000?”

Built to showcase Australia on the global stage for the 2000 Olympic Games, Sydney Olympic Park was built to impress. In the days before “Global Warming” turned to “Climate Change”, water management was almost as much of an issue as it is today. The highly developed design of the Park’s infrastructure and its advanced capabilities has been awarded for it’s excellence and emulated around the globe.

Sydney Olympic Park’s water system has been managed under the Water Reclamation and Management Scheme (WRAMS). The scheme was started in 2000 and was Australia’s first large-scale urban water treatment scheme. The system was following the integrated water model issued by Sydney Olympic Park Management (pictured below). It covers not only the sport facilities but also the surrounding supporting elements including: settlements, hotels, and apartments. WRAMS recycles water from sewage and storm-water for irrigation, ornamental water fountains and toilet flushing applications across all the connected facilities in the park and in the bordering suburb of Newington. This water is supplied to customers through separate meters and at a considerably lower cost than regular water.

Integrated Water Cycle

Sydney Olympic Park Integrated Water System (from: Sydney Olympic Park Authority)

Statistically, WRAMS saves more than 850 million litres of potable water each year by avoiding its use for non-drinking purposes. The sewer-mining function of WRAMS treats an additional 550 million litres of sewage annually, saving a huge amount of discharged flowing out into the open waters.

So What Exactly is Water Reclamation?

It al begins with the word reclaim. According to the online dictionary, it means to retrieve or recover something “previously” or “potentially” lost. In this case that something lost would be the water. So water reclamation is a process by which wastewater from a facility or a communal of facilities (residential, commercial or industrial) is cleaned using biological and chemical treatment so that the water can be returned to the environment safely. This process aims to maintain the sustainability of our water networks.

While the piping, infrastructure and design of Sydney Olympic Park was groundbreaking, it was neither the first nor the most impressive reclamation project of its kind. This first reclamation system ever was introduced in 1932 in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, while the first Australian water recycling initiative was started in 1977. Since then it evolved from just settling pond technology, to advanced chemical additives, and now to high-tech selective membranes.

So How Does This Apply to Us?

The catchment management, stormwater harvesting and wastewater reprocessing at Olympic Park can all be emulated on a smaller scale but local councils or even in your own home. Ensuring that you don’t leave contaminants outside when rain can wash them into your own local water catchments is a start. This is a very common issue in Australia with car cleaning chemicals that are disposed of after cars have been washed.

On a smaller scale, installing a water tank for storm-water harvesting is a great idea that will benefit your local water system and your back pocket (For more information on saving water around your home see out article Tips on Saving Water From a Brisbane Plumber). Lastly, installing a greywater system is just like having your own wastewater-reprocessing unit and will allow you to reclaim some of your very own pre-loved water.

If you do decide to petition your local council to improve their water management or even install some water management utilities around you own home, ensure that you speak with a qualified plumber or water management expert for their opinion before proceeding with any project. The correct plumbing system is integral to hassle-free performance of any water reclamation system. Here, the Plumbing Code of Australia (PCA) and the 2008 Plumbing Regulations regulate water reclamation. A state of the art water reclamation system will not work effectively with badly designed plumbing system, as this may compromise the level of quality of the treated water.

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