What is recycled water?

    Recycled water is water that has been used before in homes and businesses. It is collected and treated to a high standard so it is safe to use again.

    Is recycled water safe?

    Your recycled water meets the Australian Guidelines for Water Recycling. It's treated to a very high standard and is disinfected. However, recycled water is not suitable for drinking, cooking, using in the kitchen, in the bathroom for bathing, showering, bidets, filling pools and spas, and for children's outdoor water play equipment. 

    What can I use recycled water for?

    • Toilet flushing
    • Washing cars, paths and external walls
    • Watering lawns and gardens, including fruit trees and vegetable gardens
    • Washing laundry in a washing machine

    What can't I use recycled water for?

    • Human consumption
    • Cooking and other kitchen purposes
    • Personal washing, such as baths, showers, hand basins and bidets
    • Cleaning inside the home
    • Filling swimming pools
    • Recreation involving water contact such as playing in outside sprinklers
    • Evaporative coolers
    • Watering and washing pets and livestock

    How much drinking water will using recycled water in my home save?

    Homes which use recycled water typically use 40% less drinking water.

    How much do I pay for recycled water?

    Water used through your recycled water meter (purple meter) is charged at $2.21 per kilolitre (thousand litres). Water used through your drinking water meter is charged at $2.46 per kilolitre. The water which you have been using in your recycled water system is currently drinking water, but is being charged to you at the recycled water rate.

    What is a home plumbing inspection?

    Hunter Water has contracted H L Mullane to complete a home plumbing inspection for all customer properties in Thornton North which will receive recycled water.

    The home plumbing inspection is to make sure the recycled water system is correctly labelled and colour-coded (purple), has the required fittings and is in good working order. It if free of charge.

    I am a tenant. What should I do to prepare?

    We will send information about using recycled water to all homes, to ensure tenants are aware recycled water is being provided. Please contact us if you have any questions.

    I am a landlord, what should I do to prepare?

    If Hunter Water has a different postal address for a property we will assume the property may be leased. In this case we will send information about using recycled water to both the street address and postal address.

    If you own a property that is leased, please let all future tenants know that recycled water is provided.

    What if the inspection identifies that some repairs need to be made?

    When H L Mullane undertake the inspection it is possible that they may find one or more items that need to be repaired. The home plumbing inspection is free of charge, but further plumbing work is the responsibility of the property owner to complete before recycled water is provided.

    Why do I need to use a licensed plumber?

    Property owners should only use licensed plumbers for any plumbing work. This is to ensure that no ‘cross connections’ between the drinking water and recycled water systems are accidentally made. The plumber will also ensure the recycled water system is labelled and colour-coded, and that all fittings are in place.

    Why does my recycled water plumbing have purple fittings and removable taps?

    The taps which provide recycled water have purple fittings so they can be easily identified. Recycled water is provided to flush toilets and for taps outdoors. Some homes will also have a recycled water tap in the laundry for connection to the washing machine (if this option was chosen by the property owner when the house was built).

    Removable taps are provided outside to help ensure the water is not accidently used instead of drinking water, for example when filling swimming pools or for children to play under sprinklers.

    Will the recycled water smell different to drinking water?

    You may notice the recycled water smells slightly more of chlorine, because it is more highly disinfected.

    Where will my recycled water come from?

    The new recycled water plant at the Morpeth Wastewater Treatment Plant provides recycled water to customers in Chisholm and Thornton North. The recycled water is pumped from Morpeth to the pumping station at Chisholm, where it is disinfected using chlorine before being distributed to customers.

    Is recycled water subject to water restrictions?

    Recycled water will not to be subject to water restrictions, however, we ask you to use it wisely, for example, not watering outside during hot days when more water will be lost to evaporation.

    What happens if the recycled water plant needs maintenance? Will I still have water available?


    It’s possible that from time to time the recycled water plant won’t produce recycled water. For example during maintenance. If this happens there is a backup water main connection at the treatment plant to ‘top-up’ the water supply to the recycled water network. Customers will not notice any interruptions to their water supply.


    Can I fill my outdoor fish tank using recycled water?

    Outdoor ornamental ponds can be filled with recycled water. The recycled water has a higher chlorine content so this needs to be considered if using recycled water for outdoor ponds containing fish.

    Can I use recycled water to water my fruit trees and vegetable garden?

    Recycled water is suitable to use on fruit trees and gardens containing edible vegetables.

    Can I use recycled water in my pool, in toys like 'slip n slides' or in sprinkles where children may play?

    No. Recycled water must not be used for these purposes.

    What are my responsibilities as a property owner when it comes to my recycled water plumbing?


    It is the property-owner’s responsibility to make sure the plumbing on their property meets Australian standards. 

    For this reason, all plumbing work should be completed by a licensed plumber. 


    How do I check if there is a cross-connection between my drinking and recycled water pipes?


    The drinking water and recycled water pipes at your property must be completely separate from each other. Hunter Water’s contractor, H.L. Mullane, inspected all homes to ensure this was the case and there are no cross connections on your property.

    If you have any plumbing work completed we advise you to complete a simple self-check to make sure there are no cross-connections.

    We suggest you complete this cross-connection check once a year.

    1.  Turn off your drinking water meter. Leave the recycled water meter (purple) on.

    2.  Slowly turn on each hot and cold tap in the laundry, sink, bath and shower, one by one. Each tap should run dry after a very short time (less than thirty seconds). If a tap continues to run, it may be attached to the recycled water supply. This is called a cross-connection, and you should contact Hunter Water urgently. Turn off each tap.

    3.  After all taps have run dry, flush all toilets. Each toilet should refill normally as they are connected to the recycled water supply.

    4.  Disconnect your washing machine and run the tap it was connected to. If it runs dry, your washing machine is connected to drinking water. If the tap continues to run, it is connected to recycled water. Some property owners elected to have their washing machines connected to recycled water – this is fine.

    5.  If you would like to check your dishwasher, bidet or any other device, test it now. These appliances should not run because the drinking water has been turned off (see step 1). If they do run, they are connected to recycled water and you should call Hunter Water immediately.

    6.  Now go outside and test each tap. The outside taps connected to drinking water should run dry. The outside recycled water (purple) taps should continue to run as normal.

    7.  Make sure all taps are turned off. Slowly turn your drinking water meter back on. Please note to turn all taps on slowly next time, as there may be air in the pipes for a short time.

    * Our friendly team is pleased to answer questions and give advice, but any plumbing problems within your property are the responsibility of the property owner.


    Why is recycled water being provided?

    Delivering this project is an action of the Lower Hunter Water Plan. It is a key water-saving initiative, as properties receiving recycled water reduce their use of drinking water by approximately 40%.The recycled water scheme is registered with the NSW Department of Planning’s BASIX system, and Hunter Water is required to provide recycled water to maintain BASIX compliance for these customers.