Alternative Water Solutions

Alternative water solutions use an alternative water supply in place of a mains water supply and are employed to save drinking water in non-drinking applications or reduce reliance on the drinking water system.

Alternative water solutions often need to compete economically with the relatively low cost of drinking water and the engineering approach is critical in identifying a viable alternative source and optimising the design and delivery of required infrastructure.



Alternative water systems vary depending on available water sources, end uses and budgets however most solutions are developed with one of two approaches in mind:
Minimising treatment costs by matching the end use and water source based on water quality; or

Maximising water savings by matching the water source and end use based on water volumes.
Many industries have high water using applications that don’t require drinking grade water. Many industrial precincts also have access to local alternative water sources such as roofwater and stormwater that can be harvested for use in these applications to save drinking water. Common applications and water sources suitable for alternative water supply in Australian industry are summarised below.


High water using applications suitable for alternative water supply in Australian industry include:
Wash water for piggeries, dairy farms, poultry farms, stables and abattoirs

Produce cleaning

Stock water

Garden watering
Cooling tower make-up
Surface cleaning

Laundry facilities
Mine sites

Road construction sites

Transport yards
Fire truck refill

Hydrant and hose reel systems in remote areas

Sprinkler systems
Landscape areas


Golf courses and sports fields
Cleaning and cooling in manufacturing

Garbage separation and cleaning

Raw material extraction, transport and cleaning

Power generation
Cubicle toilets

Urinals (eliminates odours from waterless urinals)
Swimming pools

Water features
Airport tarmac (de-rubberisation)

Plant and plantrooms




Alternative water sources for industry are typically sources of water that are locally available but unsuitable for drinking. Onsite sources such as roofwater, stormwater and process water are preferred as they can often be accessed with low or no licensing or environmental approval cost, are closer to the point of use and have a manageable catchment.

Roofwater is rainwater that runs off non-trafficked roofs. It is typically high quality water and is applicable to most industrial processes with minimal treatment.
Stormwater is rainwater that runs off trafficked areas such as roads and car parks. It requires more treatment than roofwater but typically provides substantially greater volumes of water.
Process water is water that has passed through an industrial process such as a washing facility. Depending on the quality and volume of water recovered it may be viable to treat and reuse process water directly or as part of a larger alternative water supply system that includes roofwater or stormwater harvesting.

Water Harvesting Systems