Recycled water

1. Overview

Recycled Water refers to highly treated effluent from sewage treatment plants.

At the Byron Bay sewage treatment plant, up to one mega-litre a day of effluent that would otherwise be discharged into our water ways, or one Olympic sized swimming pool, is treated.

In Byron Bay recycled water is used for:

  • toilet flushing at public toilet blocks in the Byron Bay town centre and some sporting clubs
  • irrigation of sporting fields, parks and gardens
  • irrigation of nurseries
  • truck filling standpipes for construction applications and dust suppression.

Purple pipes mean recycled water

The purple pipes recently installed in the Byron Bay township provide recycled water to flush all public toilets around the Byron Bay town center and to irrigate parks and gardens all year round.

2. Is recycled water safe?

Any contact with recycled water should not be a concern as it is treated to a very high standard. Despite the high quality, recycled water is not suitable for drinking, cooking or bathing, including use in swimming pools.

Contact Byron Shire Council Systems Environment Officer on 02 6685 9322 if you are interested in using recycled water.

3. Benefits of recycled water

There are many benefits of recycling waste water.

Recycling water:

  • creates a renewable resource
  • conserves our drinking water
  • provides a reliable source of water all year round
  • reduces treated effluent discharge
  • protects local waterways
  • is at a very low user cost

Recycled Water Usage Charges (Section 502 LGA)

A volumetric water usage charge will be levied based on the recycled water usage recorded as passing through the dedicated recycled water meter/s servicing each property. Water access charges are not applicable for dedicated recycled water meter connections

Recycled water charge is $0.01/Kilolitre for Residential and Non-Residential Recycled Water Usage. 

4. The recycling process

At the Byron Bay sewage treatment plant effluent passes through multiple levels of treatment designed to remove all potential pollutants and harmful microorganism, the recycling process includes: 

  • Biological processes to remove pollutants, organic matter, grease and oil, nutrients and harmful microorganisms.
  • Disinfection through UV sterilisation.
  • Sand filtration.
  • Disinfection with chlorine.

5. Recycled water filling stations 

You can apply to access water from Councils recycled water filling stations in the Byron Shire if you wish to use recycled water for the following purposes:

  • Dust suppression/road works/ road construction
  • Irrigation of a rural property such as a macadamia farm or wholesale nursery

Recycled water is not suitable for drinking, filling up a swimming pool or a rainwater tank connected to your home! If you are unsure whether your proposed use of recycled water is suitable please contact Council on 02 6685 9300 and ask to speak with the Recycled Water team.

There are four ground mount recycled water filling stations in the Byron Shire:

  • Byron Bay depot, Bayshore Drive
  • South Byron (corner of Broken Head and Bangalow Rd near Golf Course)
  • Mullumbimby Recycled Water Storage Ponds (old STP– end of Casuarina Street, Mullumbimby)
  • Bangalow STP, Dudgeons Lane

To access Byron Shire Councils recycled water filling stations you need to enter into an agreement.  To do this complete the online application form.

Potential recycled water carriers must give Council up to 10 business days to assess and approve the application.

6. Frequently asked questions about recycled water

Does recycled water smell or look different to drinking water?

No, recycled water smells and appears identical to drinking water and is filtered and chlorinated in the same way. It is only through detailed laboratory analysis that you can tell them apart. Both recycled water and drinking water can smell if left in pipes long enough. It is good practice to flush all taps if they have not been used for a long time.

How will I tell the difference between recycled water and drinking water at my home or business?

All recycled water pipes, taps and fittings are coloured purple for easy identification. All toilets, taps and irrigated areas are signed Recycled Water, do not drink. All recycled water taps also have removable handles which should be taken off when not in use.

Is recycled water treated?

Yes. Recycled water is treated to a standard that is “fit for purpose” in accordance with the Public Health Act (2005).

How do I know recycled water is safe?

Water quality is governed by strict Australian and NSW regulations and regular testing, monitoring and reporting is required and undertaken in accordance with the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), NSW Office of Water and NSW Health The Department of Health. Recycled water from the Byron Bay Sewage Treatment Plant has been classified in the lowest risk and highest performing category (Category A, Level 1) on last review by the EPA.

We live in a high rainfall area. Why use recycled water when we already have enough?

The region’s main water source is Rocky Creek Dam, located within the Whian Whian State Forest.

The dam supplies drinking water to the Northern Rivers area stretching from Woodburn in the south, north to Ocean Shores and west to Lismore.

With a growing population in the region and more extreme weather conditions predicted in the future, it is estimated that demand will exceed supply by 2024 unless we reduce our drinking water consumption (Rous County Council – Future Water Strategy 2014).

Recycled water is a reliable, safe and sustainable alternative to help conserve our precious drinking water. Approximately 70% of the water we use in and around our homes does not require drinking quality water and could be replaced with recycled water.

What will happen to my recycled water if there is a drought?

You’ll have a drought-proof water source even when restrictions to drinking water apply. Recycled water is available 24/7.

Can I drink recycled water?

Recycled water is highly treated and suitable for a range of uses. It is not recommended for some uses such as drinking, bathing and cooking. 

What kind of testing is done on recycled water?

The pH, electrical conductivity (salinity), turbidity (filter accuracy), chlorine residual, Ultra Violet (UV) intensity and temperature of recycled water are rigorously monitored. Should any of these elements fall below standards, the facilities will be shut down.

Recycled water quality results are displayed on our Water and Wastewater Public Data Portal