THERE are plenty of examples of cities recycling wastewater in to drinking water for Tamworth to look to, a University of NSW water expert says.
Tamworth councillor Mark Rodda has asked staff to look into the viability and cost of turning the city's wastewater into a purified drinking supply.
UNSW Professor Stuart Khan said Perth was a world leader in recycling water.
It currently recycles 14GL annually, and when stage two of the project is completed later this year, that will double to 28GL, or 10 per cent of the city's yearly use.
The Perth model takes wastewater and purifies it three times, before pumping it in to an aquifer that already supplies the city, where it is naturally filtered again. It is later extracted and pumped to a water treatment plant.
Professor Stuart Khan said while the Perth model was very successful, it's difficult for inland cities to do for two reasons - but there are other alternatives.
"Firstly, you need a water supply that relies on an aquifer," he said.
"And secondly, you need to be able to deal with the salt that's extracted through reverse osmosis. For coastal places like Perth, that's fine because they can put it back in the sea."
Mr Khan said there was a similar process inland places could use, that didn't involve reverse osmosis or an aquifer.
"Usually inland cities use ozonation, which involves a very powerful disinfectant, more powerful than chlorine, that kills germs and pathogens," he said.
"It also starts to break down organic chemical compounds. Then the water is filtered through activated carbon, which filters out the organic compounds."
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Because the process doesn't remove the salt, it has to be blended with another water source.
In Tamworth's case, the recycled water could be fed in to Chaffey or Dungowan dams, supplementing current supplies.
"It would be the cleanest water going in to the reservoir," Professor Khan said.
Singapore and a number of states in America, including Virginia and Georgia supplement their reservoirs with recycled water.
The Beaufort West region in South Africa uses a 80/20 split of treated reservoir water and recycled water, which is blended together.
Professor Khan said when it came to recycling water, "there is more than one way to skin a cat".
"There a whole bunch of recycling water programs around the world, and they're all different," he said. "They're uniquely designed taking in to account local circumstances."