Malcolm Turnbull, minister for the environment and water resources, said: “Many Australian towns and cities are increasingly looking to supplement their water supplies and the introduction of recycled water into the drinking water supply is one viable option.”

“Recycled water is an important part of Australia’s long term water future as it will help to reduce water shortages and make water supplies less vulnerable to climate.”

He was speaking following the publication of a National Water Commission report, Using Recycled Water for Drinking Purposes.

It says recycled water is a way communities can bolster and secure supplies.

The use of recycled water in Australia is not a new concept.

For decades, towns and cities have used it to water recreational facilities such as parks and golf courses and also in some cases for irrigation.

It has also been discharged into some watercourses to be siphoned off downstream for uses including drinking supplies.

Mr Turnbull says the report can help communities considering the use of recycled water for drinking. And, he played down safety concerns.

“The study indicates that the risk associated with recycled water for drinking is manageable,” he said.

National guidelines on using recycled water for drinking are expected by the end of the year.

The government has already ploughed hundreds of millions of dollars into water recycling projects around the country in a bid to boost conservation.

This month it announced $12.5 million towards a $64 million recycling plant in Geelong, Victoria, on condition it is match-funded by the state government.

Shell Australia has committed $26.25 million to the project, which will save around five percent of the area’s drinking water each year and clean up wastewater from its refinery.

David Gibbs

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