REUSING sewer water produced by Northern Rivers towns could cost around $190 million and would have many technical challenges.
The data comes from a preliminary feasibility report prepared by water treatment company CWT for Rous County Council.
The study is part of Rous County Council’s proposed Future Water Project 2060 – a $245 million plan to future-proof the community’s precious drinking water supplies over the next 40 years and beyond.
The report was requested as a means to investigate water reuse as an additional water source in the area.
One possibility is to upgrade every existing water treatment plant to Advanced Water Recycling Plants (AWRP) and then pump the treated water to Emigrant Creek Dam and the Wilsons River for distribution to homes.
The South Lismore upgrade would cost $14.1 million and East Lismore $14.7 million.
The cost of upgrading existing plants in Ballina ($22.9m), Lennox Head ($21.4m), Alstonville ($17.2m) and Bangalow ($11.5m) individually would mean a total cost of $73 million.
The second alternative is to move untreated water to a new AWRP.
In Lismore, building a common AWRP for both locations and then pumping treated effluent to the Wilsons River was expected to cost $28.8 million.
Pumping treated effluent to Emigrant Creek Dam from a common AWRP from Ballina, Lennox Head, Alstonville and Bangalow would cost about $67.5 million.
The estimation of $190 million would include these technical upgrades, the cost of laying down pipelines, groundworks and other costs.
According to the document, “further development of these options will require liaison with other stakeholders to understand the likelihood of gaining approval for the proposed schemes, identify possible conditions for supply agreements, and to determine planning requirements for each scheme.”
Phillip Rudd, general manager at Rous County Council, said the report was trying to identify feasible sources of water to be treated.
“(Decisions on infrastructure spending) are not solely driven by cost, it’s not solely driven by environmental considerations, we are trying to balance those things. We have to balance the cost of water so people who need it can still afford it,” he said.
The report, called Water Reuse Feasibility Assessment Report, and the Future Water Project 2060 plan are currently on public exhibition by Rous County Council.