SUSTAINABLE WATER SOLUTIONS FOR
CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION
MODULE C: INTEGRATED WATER
RESOURCE PLANNING AND MANAGEMENT
This online textbook provides free access to a comprehensive education and training package that
brings together the knowledge of how countries, specifically Australia, can adapt to climate change.
This resource has been developed through support from the Federal Government’s Department of
Climate Change’s Climate Change Adaptation Professional Skills program. ;
CHAPTER 6: URBAN AND INDUSTRIAL WATER
TREATMENT, REUSE AND RECYCLING.
LECTURE 6.2: INDUSTRIAL WATER REUSE, TREATMENT AND
? The Natural Edge Project (‘TNEP’), 2010
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Adaptation, Australian National University, Griffith University, The Natural Edge Project (TNEP), Australia.’
http://www.naturaledgeproject.net/Sustainable_Water_Solutions_Portfolio.aspx. Document is available electronically at
The Work was produced by The Natural Edge Project supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Climate Change under its ‘Climate Change Adaptation Skills for Professionals Program’. The
development of this publication has been supported by the contribution of non-salary on-costs and administrative support by the Griffith University Urban Research Program, under the supervision of Professor Brendan Gleeson, and the Australian National University Fenner School of Environment and Society and Engineering Department, under the supervision of Professor Stephen Dovers.
Chief Investigator and Project Manager: Mr Karlson ‘Charlie’ Hargroves, Research Fellow, Griffith University.
Principle Researcher: Dr Michael Smith, Research Fellow, ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society.
The peer reviewers for this lecture were Professor Stephen Dovers - Director, Fenner School of Environment and
Society, Australia National University. Anntonette Joseph, Director – Water Efficiency Opportunities, Commonwealth
Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Harriet Adams - Water Efficiency Opportunities,
Commonwealth Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts.
Review for this module was also received from: Chris Davis, Institute of Sustainable Futures, University of Technology;
Alex Fearnside, Sustainability Team Leader, City of Melbourne. Associate Professor Margaret Greenway, Griffith
University; Fiona Henderson, CSIRO Land and Water, Dr Matthew Inman, Urban Systems Program, CSIRO
Sustainable Ecosystems, CSIRO; Dr Declan Page, CSIRO Bevan Smith, Senior Project Officer (WaterWise) Recycled
Water and Demand Management, Queensland Government, Department of Natural Resources and Water. Dr Gurudeo Anand Tularam, Griffith University. Associate Professor Adrian Werner, Associate Professor of Hydrogeology, Flinders
University, Professor Stuart White, Institute of Sustainable Futures, UTS,
While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that the contents of this publication are factually correct, the parties involved in the development of this document do not accept responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the contents. Information, recommendations and opinions expressed herein are not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual or entity and should not be relied upon for personal, legal, financial or other decisions. The user must make its own assessment of the suitability of the information or material contained herein for its use. To the extent permitted by law, the parties involved in the development of this document exclude all liability to any other party for expenses, losses, damages and costs (whether losses were foreseen, foreseeable, known or otherwise) arising directly or indirectly from using this document.
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Enquires should be directed to:
Dr Michael Smith, Research Fellow, Australian National University, Fenner School of Environment and Society, Co-Founder and Research Director 2002-2009, The Natural Edge Project. Contact Details at
Prepared by The Natural Edge Project 2009 Page 2 of 17 Water Transformed: Sustainable Water Solutions
Urban and Industrial Water Treatment, Reuse and
Recycling to Adapt to Climate Change.
Lecture 6.2: Industrial Water Reuse and Recycling –
Wastewater Treatment and Recycling Technologies.
This lecture firstly overviews a number of companies that have achieved at least 50 per cent potable water savings through an integrated approach to water efficiency, water treatment and reuse. In lectures 2.1-2.4, 3.1-3.3 and 4.1-4.3 we showed that there was a strong business case for using water more efficiently. Here we provide examples which show that there is also a business case for treating and reusing water onsite to further reduce freshwater and trade waste costs. To help business’s identify opportunities in this area, the main purpose of this lecture is to provide an overview of the different water treatment technologies. As earlier lectures have shown, there is significant potential to increase the level of water reuse and recycling in Australia. But to achieve this, greater understanding and awareness is needed across business and industry. This lecture, and its further reading resources, seek to provide such a guide.
Key Learning Points
1. There are now many examples of business using combinations of wastewater treatment technologies to enable significant quantities of water to be recycled and reused. When this is combined with water efficiency measures, businesses can significantly reduce their reliance on potable freshwater. For instance, Inghams Enterprises have reduced mains water usage by 70%
1achieving savings of 545 megalitres per annum. Inghams Enterprises have achieved these
remarkable results by installing an Advanced Water Treatment Plant which uses a combination of physical, biological and chemical processes to treat the water, including biological nutrient
2removal, membrane separation techniques, ultraviolet radiation and chlorination. These
processes provide a multi-barrier approach which has enabled Inghams Enterprises to comply
3with Australian water recycling and drinking water guidelines.
2. Achieving the desired level of water quality from wastewater will generally require multiple stages of treatment as in the Ingham Enterprises case. The efficiency and effectiveness of the chosen method can be improved by choosing an appropriate pre-treatment. Regular system maintenance is essential for maintaining consistent water quality. Another key consideration that
1 DEWHA (2010) Prime Minister’s Water Award Factsheet. DEWHA Water Efficiency Opportunities Program at http://www.environment.gov.au/water/publications/urban/pubs/pm-waterwise-award-winners.pdf Accessed 26 May 2010. 2 Ibid. 3 DEWHA (2010) Prime Minister’s Water Award Finalists – Inghams Enterprises. DEWHA Water Efficiency Opportunities Program at http://www.environment.gov.au/water/publications/urban/pubs/pm-waterwise-award-finalists.pdf accessed May 20 2010 National Health and Medical Research Council (2004) Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. Commonwealth Government. http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/publications/synopses/eh19syn.htm Accessed 21 April 2010. Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council (NRMMC), Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC), Australian Health Ministers Conference (AHMC) (2006) National Guidelines for Water Recycling: Managing Health and Environmental Risks. NRMMC, EPHC, AHMC. http://www.ephc.gov.au/taxonomy/term/39 accessed March 3 2010.
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will determine the impact a system’s cost and complexity is how to manage the waste that will be
3. The treatment method chosen for a system must deliver water quality appropriate for the end uses. The requirements of each location and end use application, together with the water and wastewater characteristics, will have specific design needs.
4. There are broadly three main methods of wastewater treatment – physical, biological and
chemical. Within these 3 areas there are 6 different types of water or wastewater treatment technologies and approaches commonly used; flotation and basic filtration (physical), membrane filtration (physical), membrane bioreactor (physical and biological), biological treatment (biological),
5ion exchange (chemical) and disinfection (chemical).
5. Flotation and basic filtration: Flotation is an effective means of removing grease and oil, together with some suspended solids, from wastewater. Larger solids can be removed using basic filtration. These can be applied either as a pre-treatment, improving the efficiency of subsequent treatment processes, or to meet waste standards prior to discharge into sewers. 6. Membrane filtration: this involves forcing pressurised water or wastewater through a semi-permeable membrane. It is an effective means of removing solids and dissolved salts. Membrane technology has made some major advances in recent years and now has broad application. Membranes are available in four main types: microfiltration (MF), ultrafiltration (UF), reverse
6osmosis (RO) and nanofiltration (NF). The latter two are particularly effective at removing salts, dissolved solids, enhanced organics and pathogen.
7. Membrane bioreactors (MBRs): these are a proven option in the treatment of wastewater
that use a single tank combination of an activated sludge process and either micro or ultra-filtration. A key advantage of this technology is the ease of upgrade or retro-fit to existing older
7treatment plants. MBRs have application for both domestic wastewater and municipal and industrial waste treatment. When applied to the former, MBR output is of sufficient quality to be released to surface, brackish or coastal waterways or used in urban irrigation. Applied to the latter, membrane suspension combined with a suspended-growth bioreactor is effective. 8. Biological treatment: The biological treatment processes use micro-organisms to treat the waste water using similar process that occurs naturally but under more controlled conditions. There are three types of biological treatment approaches, anaerobic (for instance upflow anaerobic sludge bed reactors, suspended growth reactors, fixed film reactors), aerobic (for instance activated sludge process, sequential batch reactor, fixed film reactors) and mixed aerobic/anaerobic systems (for instance constructed wetlands).
- Anaerobic: Anaerobic biological treatment usually involves anaerobic digestion which
breaks down the biodegradable component of the waste to produce biogas and soil
improver. The biogas can be used to generate electricity and heat and thus reduce
greenhouse gas emissions.
4 UN ESCWA (2003) Waste-Water Treatment Technologies – A General Review. UN ESCWA. http://www.escwa.un.org/information/publications/edit/upload/sdpd-03-6.pdf Accessed 10 May 2010. 5 Ibid 6 Sydney Water (2009) Water Treatment Options. Sydney Water. Available at http://www.sydneywater.com.au/Publications/FactSheets/WaterTreatmentOptions.pdf Accessed 15 May 2010 7 Judd, S. (2006) Principles and Applications of Membrane Bioreactors in Water and Wastewater Treatment, Elsevier, Oxford. UK.
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- Aerobic Treatment: In aerobic systems air is pumped through the wastewater in biological
reactors. Aerobic biological systems are mostly used for treating low concentration waste
(typically where the BOD is less than 1000mg/L). In these systems, about 50% of
biodegradable organic matter is converted to sludge, which must be disposed of. The rest
is converted to water and air. Aerobic systems are used in the food manufacturing industry
and to treat municipal wastewater.
- Combined Anaerobic/Aerobic Treatment Systems: Another important biological treatment
approach is the use of constructed wetlands. Wetlands achieve biological treatment
8through both natural anaerobic and aerobic processes. Constructed wetlands will be
covered further in the following lectures on stormwater management, harvesting and reuse
(lecture 6.3) and urban water sensitive design (Lecture 7.1). Finally, some biological
treatment systems incorporate both anaerobic digestion and the aerobic process of
composting. This can take the form of a full anaerobic digestion phase, followed by the
maturation (composting) of the digestate.
9. Ion exchange: widely applied in the treatment of water for refined end-uses, including the semi-conductor and pharmaceutical industries (which require ultra-pure water), and boiler-feed water. It is used to remove trace contaminants.
10. Disinfection: this includes processes such as chlorination, and the use of ozone and ultra violet light, and is effective at killing pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and protozoa. It is usually applied as a secondary treatment in situations where there is a risk that treated water will come into contact with the human population.
These water treatment technologies used in combination can help industry comply with the
9Australian guidelines for recycling of water.
Brief Background Reading
In lectures 2.1-2.4, 3.1-3.3 and 4.1-4.3 we showed that there was a strong business case for using water more efficiently. Here we provide examples showing that there is also great potential for businesses to treat and reuse water to further reduce their freshwater and trade waste costs. Ingham Enterprises is not the only company showing the potential for business from investing in water treatment/reuse and stormwater harvest and reuse opportunities. When companies invest in water efficiency opportunities in combination with water treatment and reuse opportunities the potable water savings can be significant.
- At Port Kembla, on the NSW coast, Sydney Water’s largest industrial water recycling
development generates a saving of approximately 17% of Wollongong’s daily water use.
20 Ml of recycled water per day and used by the Port Kembla Coal Terminal and
BlueScope Steel. The wastewater undergoes a multi-stage treatment to get it to tertiary
level, after which microfiltration and reverse osmosis are applied to deliver water
appropriate to BlueScope’s particular requirements. Any residual water undergoes
8 Greenway, M. (2003) The role of wetlands in effluent treatment and reuse schemes. CD-ROM, Water Recycling Australia, 2nd National Conference 1-3 September, 2003 Brisbane. Australian Water Association, Sydney 9 Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council (NRMMC), Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC), Australian Health Ministers Conference (AHMC) (2006) National Guidelines for Water Recycling: Managing Health and Environmental Risks. NRMMC, EPHC, AHMC. http://www.ephc.gov.au/taxonomy/term/39 accessed March 3 2010
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additional treatment (ultraviolet light disinfection) before being discharged offshore via an
- At their Cartonboard Mill in Petrie, Amcor Australia has achieved an annual freshwater
saving of more than 1000 Ml. Formerly in the top 10 water users in the area, this saving of
over 4 Ml per day, has been achieved via a 90% reduction in the use of drinking water in
11the manufacturing process, which now uses treated and purified recycled water instead.
- With 55 projects focussing on saving water, Coca Cola Amatil is amongst the most efficient
Coke bottlers internationally. The projects range across water treatment, recycling and
reuse and stormwater harvesting, and have positioned the company at the forefront of
12such efforts within the global beverage industry.
- Diageo Australia Limited, an international beverage manufacturer, has achieved a 43%
water saving at its Huntingwood site. This annual saving of 55.5 Ml has been realised
through a combination of improved management practices and innovative water saving
measures. Efficiency initiatives have enabled significant freshwater savings, but more than
50% of the savings have been achieved through optimisation of the reverse osmosis
- The Rossdale Golf Club has achieved an annual reduction of mains water usage of 35 Ml.
This cut, a reduction of 56%, has been achieved through a combination of stormwater
harvesting and construction of storage dams. The club has a 43 Ml storage capacity,
comprised in part of an aquifer storage and recovery facility, and a permit to harvest
14stormwater from a barrel drain adjacent to the property.
In each of these examples these businesses have chosen specific water treatment technologies to enable their wastewaters to be treated to standards needed for that water to be reused. Water treatment is needed in many industries whether they reuse their wastewater or not as their wastewaters contain a significant number of pollutants that need to be treated before that water is re-released into natural systems. For instance in the following industries the following pollutants tend to be common –
- Iron production - Ammonia and cyanide, along with other chemicals, contaminate water
used for cooling in the blast furnace production of iron. Water used in coke production
(from coal), for separation of by-products, can contain contaminants including gasification
products (e.g. naphthalene, benzene, cyanide, ammonia, phenols and cresols) as well as
polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH).
- Steel production – The hot and cold mechanical transformations involved in converting iron
(or steel) into wire and other products, use water as a lubricant and coolant. The final stage
of treatment (prior to use in manufacturing) involves pickling with strong mineral acid
(usually hydrochloric and sulphuric). These two processes produce contaminants including
hydraulic (soluble) oils, particulate solids, tallow, acidic rinse water and waste acid.
10 Bluescope Steel (2006) Community, Safety and Environment Report – Water Case Studies. Bluescope Steel at http://csereport2006.bluescopesteel.com/environment/water_case_studies.html#less accessed May 3 2010 11 Amcor (undated) Environmental Sustainability – Water Use. Amcor at .http://www.amcor.com/about_us/sustainability_amcor/environmental_sustainability/64347357.html accessed May 3 2010 12 DEWHA (2010) Prime Minister’s Water Award Finalists. DEWHA Water Efficiency Opportunities Program at http://www.environment.gov.au/water/publications/urban/pubs/pm-waterwise-award-finalists.pdf accessed May 20 2010 13 Ibid. 14 Ibid.
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- Mines and quarries - Slurries of rock particles are the main contaminants associated with
quarries and mines, and result from the rock washing and grading process and rainfall
run-off from haul roads and other associated exposed surfaces. Particulate haematite and
surfactants contaminate wastewater from some separation operations (e.g. coal from
native rock), while oils and hydraulic oils are commonplace. Metal mine and ore recovery
operation wastewaters are contaminated with minerals found in the native rock, and can
include undesirable materials left over after extraction of the desired materials. In the case
of metal mines, these undesirable materials can include zinc and arsenic.
- Food industry - Wastewater resulting from agricultural and food production tends to have
high concentrations of suspended solids and has high biochemical oxygen demand (BOD).
Variation in BOD and pH in fruit and vegetable and meat product effluent, as well as
seasonal factors, make it difficult to predict the contaminants in food wastewater. Food
processing wastes are generally high in organic material associated with cooking. These
can include not only high levels of fats and oils, but also flavourings, salt, colours, acids
and alkali. Wastewater from the slaughter and processing of animals contains strong
organic contaminants (e.g. from blood and gut content), and can have considerable
concentrations of growth hormones, antibiotics and pesticides. Wool processing produces
wastewater hat contains significant levels of insecticides from residue from the fleeces. Clearly, industrial wastewaters need to be treated whether the water is going to be reused or released back into the environment. Sydney Water and many other water authorities have produced significant freely available information (see further reading) for commercial customers regarding treatment of trade waste (wastewater). Hence this lecture does not focus on this topic as it is well covered already. The rest of this lecture focuses on water treatment technologies which enable businesses to reuse and recycled water to reduce their dependence on mains water. To achieve this, water treatment is required to reduce the level of pollutants. Sydney Water has produced the following diagram that communicates both the main pollutants that need to be treated and which water treatment technologies can be used for such purposes. The rest of this lecture focuses on the main water treatment technological options as listed by Sydney Water here. (See figure 6.2.1)
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Figure 6.2.1 Treatment options for water reuse.
15(Source: Sydney Water, 2009)
The following provides an overview of the main types of wastewater treatment technologies listed in the above Sydney Water diagram.
Flotation and Basic Filtration
Flotation is an effective means of removing grease and oil, together with some suspended solids, from wastewater. Larger solids can be removed using basic filtration. These can be applied either as a pre-treatment, improving the efficiency of subsequent treatment processes, or to meet waste standards prior to discharge into sewers.
16The most common flotation process is dissolved air flotation (DAF). Dissolved air flotation (DAF)
is a water treatment process that clarifies wastewaters (or other waters) by the removal of suspended matter such as oil or solids. To do this, air is dissolved under pressure in the wastewater then released into a flotation tank at atmospheric pressure. Suspended matter adheres to the resulting air bubbles, floats to the surface, and is collected via skimming. Thus, DAF uses fine air bubbles to separate liquid particles and light suspended solids (but not
15 Sydney Water (2009) Water Treatment Options. Sydney Water. Available at http://www.sydneywater.com.au/Publications/FactSheets/WaterTreatmentOptions.pdf Accessed 15 May 2010 16 Ibid.
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dissolved contaminants) from wastewater. These particles and solids are floated to the surface via the bubbles, where they are skimmed from the surface in the form of sludge (4 – 6% solids). The
efficiency of this process can be enhanced through the addition of flocculants and coagulants, which bind suspended particles into larger masses, though this may require some adjustment of the wastewater’s pH. It may necessary to use a balance tank so this process is not disturbed by the inflow of wastewater. With little operator input necessary, DAF is a relatively easy process that is cheap to run. One of the main applications of DAF is in the treatment of industrial wastewater effluent from industries including paper manufacturing, oil refining and natural gas processing and general water treatment. Its uses also include grease and oil removal from commercial kitchen wastewater and various applications in the paper and pulp industry.
Membrane filtration is a fast growing technology that can produce high quality effluent, in a wide range of situations. Membranes can provide consistent high quality water free of nearly all target
17contaminants, regardless of influent quality. Membranes remove solids and dissolved salts from
water and wastewater by forcing them through a semi-permeable membrane, generally under pressure. Concentrated waste is captured on the membrane surface. There are four major types of membranes:
1. Microfiltration (MF) - MF removes contaminants by passing fluid (liquid or gas) through a membrane with pores of 0.1 to 10 microns. Pressure can be used but, unlike nanofiltration and reverse osmosis, is not essential. The membranes can be composed of fibers ranging from hollow and tubular, to track etched or spiral wound, and can be configured in either a submerged or pressure vessel arrangement. They are effective in filtering algae, large bacteria, sediment and particles, while allowing water, small colloids, dissolved organic matter, viruses and monovalent ions (Na+ & Cl-) to pass through.
2. Ultrafiltration (UF) - UF employs hydrostatic pressure to force liquid onto a semipermeable membrane. The membrane allows water and solutes of low molecular weight to pass, while suspended solids and high molecular weight solutes are held back. An effective means of purifying and concentrating macromolecular solutions, UF is used to recycle flow and add value to later products in industries including food and beverage manufacturing, wastewater treatment, and chemical and pharmaceutical processing. By employing solution flow pressurisation, UF is widely applied in continuous systems for the purification, separation and concentration of target macromolecules. Targeting is effected by selecting a membrane with the appropriate molecular weight cut-off (MWCO).
3. Reverse osmosis (RO) - RO involves the application of pressure to a fluid column in excess of its osmotic pressure. In a situation where two fluids containing differing concentrations of dissolved solids are separated by a semi-permeable membrane, this results in the passage of fluids through the membrane but the retention of dissolved solids in the column to which the pressure is applied. As an effective means of reducing the salt content of water, RO’s main applications are the production of drinking water, ultra pure water and boiler feed water. It also has application in the dairy, food and galvanic industries.
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4. Nanofiltration (NF) - NF employs a combination of pressure and membranes to effect separations based on molecule size. As such it has many similarities with reverse osmosis (RO). Its predominant application is in the removal organic materials (e.g. multivalent ions and micro pollutants). However, whereas RO is 98-99% effective (at 200psi) in the removal of monovalent ions, NF ranges between 50-90% effectiveness. The range for NF varies according to the membrane’s material and manufacture. Hence, a range of NF membranes exist, each with a specific application. NF’s main application is in drinking water purification, particularly decolouring, softening and removal of micro-pollutants. It also has industrial applications, for example laundry wastewater recycling, pesticide removal from groundwater and the removal of heavy metals from wastewater. In general, NF and RO membranes are effective in the removal of dissolved salts, while MF and UF membranes are effective in the removal of dissolved solids. The smaller the pore size (MF largest - RO smallest) of the membrane, the greater the operating pressure required. For example, MF membranes having the largest pore size can be effective with <200 kPa, whereas RO membranes with the smallest pore size require >1,000 kPa to be effective.
18, include: Examples of membrane treatment, according to Sydney Water
- salt removal from brackish or saline solutions – RO
- colour removal in the textile industry – UF/NF/RO
- pulp and paper water recovery – UF
- oily wastewater treatment – UF
- laundry effluent treatment – UF/NF/RO
- boiler feed water treatment – UF/RO
19- landfill leachate – UF/RO.
Whilst membranes are very effective water treatment technologies, membranes can become fouled from suspended solids or covered in scale and salts, if not properly operated. The risk can be reduced by:
- selecting the appropriate membrane
- maintaining proper operating conditions (including rate of recovery)
- cleaning membranes regularly.
- pre-treating waste (including pH control, dosing with anti-scalant and pre-screening as
outlined in table 6.1.1) The pre-treatment of feed water for nano-filtration or reverse
osmosis installations greatly influences the performance of the installation. The required
form of pre-treatment depends on the feed water quality. The purpose of pre-treatment is
reducing the organic matter content and the amount of bacteria, as well as lowering the
MFI. The organic matter content and the amounts of bacteria should be as low as possible
to prevent the so-called bio-fouling of membranes. The application of a pre-treatment has
- Membranes have a longer life-span when pre-treatment is performed
18 Ibid. 19 Ibid.
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