Canberra Airport acts to preserve town water

Canberra International Airport is set to become the first Airport

in Australia to recycle its water

Airport Executive Director, Mr Tom Snow, said the decision to recycle water was an important environmental initiative that will significantly reduce the Airport’s use of fresh town water and, as a result, help preserve the ACT’s scarce water supplies.

The environmental savings are significant. For example, the cost to recycle water is less than a quarter of the cost of mains water.

“We calculate that around 100,000 litres of water will be recycled across the Airport every day,” Mr Snow said. “This means that water consumption in Airport buildings will drop from 15 to 20 litres per person per day to 5 litres per person per day.”

Recycled water will be re-used in cooling towers and toilet flushing, which are major consumers of water and in watering gardens. It will not be used for drinking. The Airport will continue to draw on town water for drinking and showering. “Recycling our waste water means the Airport and its Business Park will be using considerably less than half the supply of fresh town water than commercial developments of a similar size,’ he said.

The Airport will use two state of the art systems developed by Australian company, Clearwater Technology, to recycle its wastewater. The Aquacell Water System uses a three-phase filtration method to recycle wastewater:

  • The waste is first subjected to Aerobic Biological treatment, a process that aerates the effluent and breaks down impurities.
  • Phase two involves ultrafiltration. The water then flows through a special self-cleaning membrane with microscopic pores – about the thickness of one hundredth of a human hair – to block particles, bacteria and viruses.
  • Phase three acts as an added safeguard, subjecting the water to high intensity ultra-violet light. This provides protection against possible bacteria re-growth and produces chemical free sterile water.

The Aquacell Water System is the first of its kind to be installed in a commercial setting in the ACT and will cost the Airport around AUD1.2 million to establish, Mr Snow said. “The decision to embrace water recycling is another step in a very deliberate policy to become Australia’s greenest Airport. Over and above the financial benefits that this technology will deliver to the Airport, the contribution it will make to sustainability in the ACT is priceless and cannot be overstated because it will significantly reduce our consumption of town water at a time when we need every precious drop,” Mr Snow said.

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