“I use recycled water for all uses except cooking and drinking, I am very comfortable using it, to me it is clean and odour free.” This was one of a number of similar responses obtained from a recent survey conducted by Ballina Shire Council to gauge the level of satisfaction of local residents who were turned on to recycled water during the service’s initial roll out phase in July this year. According to the survey, a majority of recycled water users were satisfied with the quality of the service, which included its pressure, clarity and convenience. “I think the quality is excellent and I support the inclusion of recycled water into our shire over the long term,” responded another satisfied local recycled water user. Strategic Engineer Water and Wastewater Andrew Swan said that he was happy with the level of satisfaction depicted in the survey results but said the level of understanding could be improved.
“Two thirds of survey respondents understood that recycled water was safe for use in homes, however, results indicate that users were predominantly expending their recycled water outdoors only, and we want to emphasise that the quality of recycled water is absolutely safe for some indoor use at home including washing clothes,” Mr Swan said. The recycled water survey not only sought feedback from local recycled water users, but from the entire community in regards to its knowledge of recycled water to understand in some measure, how effective Council’s community engagement had been. “It was pleasing to see that a majority of all survey respondents agreed that the main benefits of recycled water included reducing discharge into the ocean and river, saving water, protecting the environment, planning for the future, drought resistance, and treating wastewater as a valuable resource,” Mr Swan said. Despite Council’s efforts to educate the community about recycled water, more than 70 per cent of locals surveyed reported they would like to know more. Mr Swan said that while Council had undertaken community consultation, developed a dedicated Ballina Water website, published a regular Water Talk feature in the Community Connect newsletter, distributed service updates to the local media, and had provided information kits and spoken one-on-one to residents receiving the service -“Council would listen to its stakeholders and strive to do more in this space.”