RESIDENTS in the City of Joondalup will soon be able to take advantage of a greywater re-use rebate.
Greywater reuse systems can reduce the annual water usage of residential properties by diverting wastewater from laundries, bathrooms (not toilets) and kitchens into an onsite treatment system that irrigates a small section of garden.
Last December, Cr Russ Fishwick moved a motion requesting a report on the development of a greywater re-use rebate program for the City, which the council unanimously supported.
He said decreasing rainfall and water supply, combined with an increasing population and water demand, meant efforts to conserve water were “needed more now than ever before”.
“Greywater re-use is an action that can aid in improving water efficiency and water conservation,” he said.
“If treated and disinfected through a Department of Health-approved greywater treatment system, greywater may be used for surface irrigation, toilet-flushing and cold water laundry washing machine use.”
He said benefits included reducing the pressure on existing freshwater sources and the amount of sewage discharged to the ocean or rivers and increasing groundwater recharge.
He said the City of Fremantle had a greywater re-use rebate program, which was $236 and limited to one per property.
“Currently this has not been a significant impost on the City of Fremantle with approximately five applications received each year,” he said.
He suggested the City of Joondalup could use a similar program.
The report was presented to councillors last month, with officers recommending councillors not pursue a rebate program and to explore alternative water-saving initiatives during the development of a new City Water Plan, which is expected to be finished by the end of the year.
It said because there were some public health risks with greywater, the installation of a re-use system could be expensive and maintenance requirements and site restrictions also affected their demand, with the City not receiving an application to install a system in the past three years.
It said installation could cost from $4000 to more than $10,000 and an irrigation area of 24sq m was required with restricted human contact and vegetation that did not include vegetables or edible plants.
“On average, a single residential property will produce 42 kilolitres of greywater per year,” it said.
“Greywater will only be discharged on to the approved irrigation area.
“The remainder of the garden, including all lawn areas, are still required to be independently reticulated.
“A greywater re-use system will therefore provide an average annual saving of 11 kilolitres of water per year.
As well as the City of Fremantle’s program, the Water Corporation also had a program offering a $500 rebate, with 222 provided in the metropolitan area over six years.
In this time, the City of Joondalup only had six applications to install a system.
The council report said if councillors decided to consider a rebate program, it would need to be “of an amount that would encourage a change in community behaviour”.
“Consultation with the community may be required through a resident survey to determine the level of rebate that would be successful in this regard,” it said.
At the June 28 meeting, Cr Fishwick moved an alternative motion for a rebate program.
“Any water saving must be a good thing,” he said.
Cr Russell Poliwka agreed, saying there was “no harm offering the option”.
It was passed 10-1, with Cr Tom McLean voting against, saying there were other more effective and cheaper ways to save water.