Agriculture is the largest user of recycled water in Australia with majority of it used for the irrigation of pastures and fodder crops.
Recycled water is utilised at a number of farms around the Hunter as well as for several reuse initiatives by Hunter Water.
Use of recycled water presents many advantages to farmers:
- its supply is largely unaffected by weather hence water can be accessed all year round even in drought conditions
- there is a higher nutrient content in recycled water so farmers need to use less fertiliser
- recycled water is generally cheaper than drinking water reducing farmers operational costs
Reuse initiatives developed by Hunter Water include two woodlots, the Karuah Effluent Reuse Enterprise (KERE) and the Clarence Town Irrigation Scheme.
The two woodlots located at Branxton and Paxton are designed to reduce the amount of treated effluent discharged to nearby creeks. At these sites, recycled water is used to irrigate native tree plantations.
The KERE was designed to minimise discharge from the Karuah Wastewater Treatment Works. Treated effluent from the treatment works is stored within a 160ML dam where it is used to irrigate 36 hectares of pasture. This pasture is cultivated, cropped, ensilage and sold as feed for livestock.
The Clarence Town Irrigation Scheme is an integral part of the Clarence Town Wastewater Treatment Works which is designed to reuse all the product effluent in dry years. The final recycled water product is then stored in 34ML dam before being pumped to the reuse area. Reuse area consists of 18 hectares of pasture irrigated by a system of irrigators. Commercial fodder crops are cultivated on the irrigated area.