Recycled water

Recycled water is wastewater (residential sewage and industrial trade waste) treated and disinfected to a safe standard for beneficial reuse.

All of our water reclamation plants treat wastewater using a combination of mechanical and biological processes, producing recycled water for many uses in industry, agriculture and the community.

All of our wastewater facilities produce Class C recycled water or better – suitable for irrigating sporting grounds, public ovals, golf courses, crops and produce. The Black Rock plant produces Class A recycled water for residential use. The Northern Water Plant, adjacent the Geelong Refinery, also produces Class A recycled water.

Class A recycled water in ‘purple pipe’ areas

Residents, businesses, parks and community facilities in Armstrong Creek and parts of Torquay, Mount Duneed and Charlemont receive recycled water via a dedicated ‘purple pipe’ network

Class A water is safe, high-quality and always in supply, regardless of climate or population factors. Recycled water is not subject to water restrictions, and is cheaper than drinking water.

What can I use Class A recycled water for?

Class A recycled water is strictly monitored to ensure it meets water quality standards in accordance with the guidelines set by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

Class A recycled water is suitable for:

  • watering your gardens, vegetables and lawns
  • flushing your toilets (but not bidet sprays)
  • washing your car, outdoor furniture and hard surfaces (like paths, walls and windows)
  • ornamental ponds and water features.

This water is also used in residential developments for irrigating open spaces, such as parks and sporting grounds, and fire hydrants.

All plants can be watered using Class A recycled water from the purple pipe system, including edible plants, such as vegetables, herbs and fruit trees. As recycled water has a higher salt content than drinking water, you should direct recycled water to the roots of your plants, not the foliage – this will protect them from potential leaf burn. Some plants, including citrus trees, roses, azaleas and camellias, may be particularly sensitive to salt in their seedling stage.

What shouldn’t Class A recycled water be used for?

While Class A recycled water is not suitable or approved for:

  • drinking
  • cooking or use in the kitchen
  • bathing or showering
  • filling pools or spas
  • bidets
  • children’s water toys

Our Class A recycled water is treated to an extremely high standard and disinfected, so accidental consumption is unlikely to make you sick. If you’ve consumed recycled water and feel unwell, consult your doctor.

How do I use and maintain my recycled water system?

All properties in ‘purple pipe’ areas have two separate pipelines, meters and taps for their recycled and drinking water supplies – sometimes referred to as dual reticulation developments, or third pipe developments (referring also to the outgoing sewerage pipe).

All purple recycled water taps require a key, supplied by your plumber or builder. If you don’t have a purple tap key, contact your builder. Alternatively, you can use a compatible ‘anti-vandal’ tap key, available at most hardware stores.

Your drinking water and recycled water plumbing should be completely separate. If drinking water is mistakenly plumbed to recycled water outlets (or vice-versa) this is called a cross-connection.

During construction of your home, your plumber will have arranged for an independent inspection to ensure your plumbing is installed correctly, however, we recommend householders also conduct yearly tests for cross-connections. These tests don’t require a plumber and only take a few minutes.

  1. Turn off the stop valve on your drinking water meter. Run your indoor and outdoor taps and flush your toilets. Your toilet and outdoor taps should all run as normal, as they’re connected to recycled water, however, your indoor taps should run dry after a few seconds (double story houses may take a little longer). If your indoor taps still run, this could indicate a cross-contamination.
  2. Turn off the stop valve on your purple recycled water meter. Run your outdoor taps only. As these are connected to the recycled water, they should shortly run dry. If they keep running, this may indicate a cross-connection. Likewise, test your indoor taps and appliances – if they don’t run as normal, they may be connected to recycled water instead.

Before turning your stop valves back on, ensure all taps and appliances are off (slowly turn each tap on and then off to release any trapped air in the pipes). If you think you may have a cross-connection, contact us to speak with a member of our Connections team.

Information for plumbers connecting recycled water.

Class C recycled water for business, industry and agriculture

More than 30 commercial, agricultural and industrial customers throughout our service region are currently connected to a Class C recycled water supply.

Class C water is a renewable resource, not dependent on rainfall, and is always in supply, regardless of climate or population factors. Recycled water is not subject to water restrictions, and is cheaper than drinking (potable) water.

Recycled water is made available to local businesses by a dedicated pipe network. It can also be transported in approved tankers for short-term or low volume uses.

A permanent recycled water connection involves significant preparation, infrastructure works and costs. To learn more about whether Class C recycled water is suitable for your business, contact us.

What can I use Class C recycled water for?

The treatment and use of Class C recycled water is regulated by EPA Victoria. Based on EPA guidelines, Class C water is suitable for a range of purposes, including:

  • irrigating turf, flower and tree lots
  • irrigating some food crops
  • irrigating golf courses, sporting field and community areas
  • dust suppression and roadworks.

When used for irrigation the nutrients in recycled water may reduce the need for fertiliser.

What shouldn’t Class C recycled water be used for?

Class C recycled water is not suitable or recommended for:

  • drinking, including livestock drinking
  • swimming, bathing, or wash-down water
  • any residential use.