Recycled Water project a boost for community resources

April 12, 2023

With water security identified as a community concern, one of the Lower Hunter’s largest industrial consumers of drinking water has implemented a water saving initiative that will see up to 275 megalitres of drinking water saved for use in the region’s network every year.

Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group (NCIG) has today launched their recycled water initiative that will see the company reduce its reliance on drinking water by up to 50% each year.

NCIG’s CEO Aaron Johansen said the initiative was part of the company’s commitment to reducing its reliance on the water the community needs, particularly in times of drought and water scarcity.

“We’re always looking for ways to operate sustainably and reduce our environmental footprint. When the region experienced drought conditions in 2018 and 2019, we knew we needed to do more to reduce our consumption of drinking water, so we invested in an alternative water source.

“During a normal year, our recycled water initiative will reduce our reliance on drinking water by up to 275 megalitres, which is a network saving the equivalent of 110 Olympic-sized swimming pools each year, or the annual water usage of just over 1700 residential homes. This is a great outcome for the environment and the community,” Mr Johansen said.

NCIG purchases the recycled water from water infrastructure company, coNEXA, whose water recycling plant takes treated wastewater from Hunter Water, and further treats it to a grade that’s safe and suitable for industrial use in accordance with national guidelines. The water is then transported to NCIG via an underground pipe network.

coNEXA CEO Kurt Dahl said as part of their partnership with NCIG, their facility had undergone upgrades to meet the needs of NCIG and other recycled water customers.

“To support the project, we have upgraded our Steel River production facility capacity from nine megalitres to 10.5 megalitres per day, ensuring more recycled water is available to meet the peak demands on the hottest days of the year, when it’s needed the most.

“We’re really proud of the work we’ve delivered in partnership with NCIG. Like them, we are committed to ensuring the Hunter community have robust and diversified water supply options where the use of recycled water is maximised,” Mr Dahl said.

NCIG’s recycled water initiative supports Hunter Water’s Lower Hunter Water Security Plan, which is a whole-of-government approach to ensuring the region has a resilient and sustainable water future for the next 40 years.

“Through the development of the Lower Hunter Water Security Plan, the community told us they want a safe water supply, and to ensure we make the most of the water supplies we have. With business and industry using approximately 30% of water supplied to customers, initiatives like NCIG’s recycled water project will help us deliver a more sustainable and resilient water future,” Hunter Water’s Executive Manager Strategy and Engagement, Mr David Derkenne said.

After 18 months of quality and safety assessments, construction and commissioning, NCIG’s recycled water project is now complete and the recycled water is now utilised as part of their day-to-day operations for dust suppression, machine washdown and landscaping.

“As part of our project feasibility, we identified that the recycled water is completely safe and does not pose any harm to people or the environment. This was another essential factor in determining the project implementation,” Mr Johansen said.