There may not currently be a water shortage in the ACT and its surrounding region, but the purple pipes in Googong aren’t just for aesthetics. They will soon supply recycled water to help drought-proof the growing NSW town east of Canberra.
The ‘purple pipe’ network and water treatment plant will be given the flow-ahead from 1 December following many years of development and fine-tuning for recycled water to be used for all of Googong’s public green spaces, residential lawns, gardens and flushing of toilets.
The recycled water network complies with the Australian Guidelines for Water Recycling and is treated to very high standards set by the NSW Public Health Unit.
Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council (QPRC) Mayor Tim Overall said there is a low risk of any negative health effects from approved uses of recycled water.
Mayor Overall said council has been working with Googong developers Peet to ensure relevant approvals are in place to begin supplying recycled water to help drought-proof the town.
“The availability of recycled water for non-potable uses will help to reduce consumption of potable drinking water in Googong to about 60 per cent of a similar-size population that doesn’t have recycled water,” he said.
This means that the eventual 16,000 Googong residents will use an equivalent amount of water that would sustain only 6400 people in a town not using recycled water.
President of the Googong Residents’ Association, Candice Cox, said they are looking forward to the flow of recycled water as the town continues to grow.
“The Googong Residents’ Association is thrilled with the commissioning of the recycled water system following thorough testing,” she said. “We are also grateful for the extensive community awareness program being undertaken by QPRC.”
Drop-in information sessions allowing residents to ask questions will be held on 5 November at a pop-up stand outside Cannons IGA Googong supermarket from 4 pm to 7 pm, and on 14 November at Googong Community Centre from 9 am to 12 pm.
The Googong township is designed to be one of the first purpose-built, large-scale, water-efficient communities in Australia, with water supplied via the Googong Water Recycling Plant which has been operating since 2015.
It is hoped the project can become the benchmark for many other communities.
The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment – Lands and Water granted approval in late May 2020, which allowed QPRC to finalise management plans, and plan for community education and engagement.
Recycled water provided through purple pipes will be available for flushing toilets; watering lawns and gardens; washing cars, brickworks and windows; watering fruit and vegetable gardens (with a recommendation to wash with potable water prior to eating); watering sports fields and parks; and fighting fires.
The recycled water system will be supplemented by collected rainwater at households and by potable water during dry periods from the nearby Googong Dam, which is currently at 88.24 per cent of its capacity.
Comprehensive information, including a range of fact sheets, is available on the QPRC website.