Why is irrigating with recycled water being considered for sporting fields in Lake Macquarie and other areas?

    Using recycled water will help ensure playing fields are watered and available to be used all year round, even in the event of a future drought. During a drought, water restrictions would mean that drinking water may not be available to irrigate sporting fields.

    Being able to play sport, have green grass on sporting fields, have green gardens and other public spaces is important for the wellbeing of our community.

    What is recycled water?

    Recycled water is water that has been used before in homes and businesses. It is then treated to a high standard, ready to be used again for many different purposes.

    Is using recycled water new to our region?

    Hunter Water already has 16 recycled water schemes providing recycled water for irrigation, agriculture and industry.

    In the Hunter region more than 1,000 homes already have recycled water available for toilet flushing, outdoor use and for machine-washing clothes.

    Is recycled water safe?

    Recycled water is treated to a high standard to comply with the Australian Guidelines for Water Recycling and to meet the requirements of NSW Health.

    Different grades of recycled water are suitable for different purposes. The recycled water that would be supplied to the fields at Edgeworth will be suitable for ‘municipal use’. This means the water is suitable for irrigation, dust suppression and construction.

    Recycled water is treated to the level required to remove bacteria and viruses.

    Where can I find the recycled water quality guidelines?

    If you have any questions or concerns about the safety or quality of recycled water please contact our project team, or see the guidelines here:

    Where will the recycled water come from?

    The recycled water will come from Edgeworth treatment plant, which has been supplying recycled water to Waratah Golf Course for about ten years.

    The Edgeworth treatment plant will be upgraded over coming months in preparation for providing more recycled water in the future.

    How and when will the recycled water be used?

    The recycled water will be applied using a pop-up irrigation system. The water will reach the fields by underground pipes. This will be an extension of the pipes which already supply recycled water to the golf course.

    Irrigation of the fields will generally occur at night. This reduces the amount of water lost to evaporation, especially in hot weather. It is also when the fields are not in use.

    Will there be changes to how the fields are used?

     It would not be necessary to make changes to how the fields are used by sporting organisations and the community.

    The recycled water is high-quality and does not require ‘withholding times’. This means the fields can be used as normal without restricting when people use the fields.

    Using recycled water means irrigation can occur ‘year-round’ not just during the playing season. This means sowing different types of grasses and improving the playing surface can occur at times of the year when organised sport is not being played (the ‘off season’).

    Could recycled water run off the fields, or could the irrigation spray ‘drift’, and enter surrounding properties?

    The recycled water pop-up irrigation system will be designed and adjusted specifically for the Edgeworth fields. It’s unlikely that water will run off or be sprayed into surrounding properties. Everyone using the irrigation system will be given training in its operation. The system will also be regularly checked, with a full audit happening every year.

    Is it safe to come into contact with recycled water?

    Because recycled water is treated to a high standard it is safe to use for irrigation. It will not affect neighbouring properties in the unlikely event it flows or the spray drifts. It is important, however, not to come into direct contact with recycled water (for example, it must not be used for washing hands, etc).

    How will you ensure people don’t come into direct contact with recycled water?

    • All taps, pipes and fittings will be colour-coded purple to be easily recognised.
    • Taps and valve-boxes will need to be opened with a key.
    • Everyone with access to the recycled water irrigation system will be given training.
    • Taps, fittings and tanks will have “Do Not Drink” signs.
    • Fixed signage will be provided to ensure users of the ground are aware of recycled water irrigation. Signage will be checked regularly to ensure it remains in place.
    • Council will work with sporting organisations to ensure their members understand recycled water is being used.

    What happens if recycled water is not available when it is needed?

    Very occasionally, the recycled water plant at Edgeworth will be off-line for maintenance or other reasons. When this occurs the recycled water supply is automatically ‘topped up’ with water from the drinking water system, so water will be available when it’s needed for irrigation.

    Will using recycled water affect the soil and grass?

    Using recycled water is not expected to affect the fields and soil testing will occur regularly. As already mentioned, recycled water has been used at Waratah Golf Club for about 10 years.

    Can we be sure the playing surface will remain in good condition?

    Yes. Monitoring will be ongoing. Soil testing will occur at least once a year to monitor pH; salinity; exchangeable cations (calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium); total nitrogen, nitrate and ammonium, organic matter; sulphur; available phosphorus; and potential contaminants.

    Auditing of the irrigation system to examine all system components will occur at least annually