IT TAKES about a decade for people to come around to the idea of drinking recycled wastewater, 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.
Professor Stuart Khan said the "very successful Perth scheme", which will soon provide 10 per cent of the city's drinking needs, was a 10-year process.
"A decade is realistic," he said.
"Perth spend a decade on a trial scheme, and they also made sure they took the government's health regulators [WA Health] along for the journey.
"It takes time for people to get on board and to accept this is a reliable way to get clean drinking water."
Perth's scheme is based off a model in Orange County in California, which also had a decade-long consultation period.
Professor Khan said one of the keys to the recycled water debate was to not make it politic.
"The great thing about the Perth scheme is that they talked to both sides of politics," he said.
"Despite a change of government, there was never really a major obstacle coming against it. They were able to convince both sides of the importance of this."
Professor Khan said it was normal for some people to reject the idea of recycling wastewater.
MORE WATER PRESSURE STORIES
"We call it the 'yuck factor'," he said.
"We've been naturally conditioned to think that way through millions of years of evolution to keep away from human excrement, and for good reason.
"Once you start looking at the technology and reliability of the projects, then people start to accept that there is no yuck factor here, because we're talking about pure water.
"All the things that make us sick are no longer there. It really is the cleanest water going in to any water supply."
Professor Khan said it was worth making the effort to get past the 'yuck factor'.
"This is a serious discussion and cities need a solution to dwindling water supplies, and this is one of them," he said.