Australia’s largest urban stormwater recycling scheme has been switched on in the city’s newest town centre, Green Square.

Up to 320 million litres of polluted stormwater will be diverted from waterways each year as part of the $8 million scheme. The stormwater will be treated and piped directly into residential, commercial and community buildings.

Up to 900,000 litres of treated stormwater will be provided daily for use in washing machines, to flush toilets, and in parks and gardens.

According to Lord mayor Clover Moore says thousands of Green Square residents will now be able to save tens of thousands of litres of precious drinking water.

“Once this scheme is up and running, we expect the area’s consumption of drinking water will be reduced by half – a significant saving during this current drought,” says Moore.

“Not only will we be saving water, but reducing costs as well – it’s expected water bills will be cut for residents and businesses by 10 cents a kilolitre”

“This ‘taps on’ moment in Green Square is a very significant milestone for local governments across Australia. It shows that it’s possible to become a water sensitive city and to set – and achieve – the most ambitious sustainability goals in major urban developments like Green Square.

“Growing populations and high density living calls for an increased demand for water, not only to drink but to flush toilets, wash clothes, water gardens and irrigate parks,” says Moore.

“By treating polluted water so it can be used again, we are able to conserve our previous water supplies and prevent polluted water from flowing into our waterways.”

“As well as providing recycled water to our community and cultural precinct and the City West affordable housing development, residential buildings will also be connected to the network – which means for the first time in Australia, residents will be able to move into their new apartments and use recycled stormwater from their taps,” she says.

Stormwater will be harvested from the two kilometre drain that runs underground and pumped into a treatment plant at the former South Sydney Hospital site.

The water will then be treated by a combination of high-tech ‘ultrafiltration’, which removes solids and pathogens, and ‘reverse osmosis’, which reduces its salt concentration, before being sent to two 500,000 litre underground storage tanks.

From there, the recycled water will be distributed around the town centre via a network of purpose-built purple pipes.

When fully developed, the 278-hectare Green Square urban renewal area will accommodate close to 61,000 people living in 30,500 new homes, and provide around 21,000 permanent jobs.