The 4350water Blog highlights some of the issues relating to proposals for potable reuse in Toowoomba and South East Qld. 4350water blog looks at related political issues as well.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Sewage undergoes green makeover ...

Sewage undergoes green makeover

1 May 2009

Sewage has long had an image problem.

But an Australian water management expert can foresee a time when the humble waste water treatment plant is heralded as a key weapon to combat the effects of climate change.

Water Services Association of Australia executive director Ross Young said there has been a major shift in thinking towards using biogas from waste water as fuel in power production.

"Rather than looking at them as waste water treatment plants, if you look at them in terms of green energy producers, you look at them in an completely different way," Mr Young said.

"It could well be in 20 or 30 years' time waste water treatment plants that no one wants to know about are known for their ability to produce green energy more than their ability to treat our waste water."

The issue was discussed this week at a meeting of the Global Water Research Coalition, chaired by Young in London.

The group pools resources to collaborate on international water quality research and pass on the latest findings to policymakers.

While using waste water as a green energy source is fairly widespread, the meeting heard demand for biogas and its efficient production was likely to increase as global electricity prices rise.

"As carbon trading systems are implemented around the world, electricity prices will go up, so the more energy we generate from waste water treatment plants the better it will be for everyone," Mr Young said.

"It's a green source of energy. You're not burning coal to generate the energy, you're using a by-product of the waste water treatment plant that would normally have been burnt or let go and using it to generate electricity."

Mr Young also said Australia was seen as a world leader on adaptation to climate change with pushes towards recycled water, conservation programs, low-flow shower heads and labelling on white goods.

"We've been grappling with climate change issues for the past 15 years," he said.

"If you come to Europe and particularly the US, it's only been the past few years that they're experiencing changes in their climate."

See - The Australian - Sewage undergoes green makeover.


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