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Sewerage and recycled water

Your sewage is piped to one of the city's four sewage treatment plants and treated to a high grade recycled water which can be used for non-drinking purposes.

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Recycled water

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Residents and business of the Gold Coast produce approximately 155 million litres of sewage each day which is cleaned to produce recycled water at all four of our sewage treatment plants. These sewage treatment plants are located at Pimpama and Coombabah to service the northern Gold Coast and Merrimac and Elanora to service the south.

Recycled water is sewage treated to stringent health and environmental standards so it is suitable for particular uses. All reuse of recycled water is licensed by the Department of Health.

On the Gold Coast, recycled water is used for golf course, nurseries and public parkland irrigation, as well as dust suppression on construction sites. This is a climate resilient option and is a valuable and reliable resource for non-drinking purposes.

If you are a commercial customer, consider substituting potable (drinking) water for fit-for-purpose recycled water where possible. A more cost efficient option than potable water, the following industries are currently enjoying the benefits of using recycled water:

  • agriculture (farmers)
  • nurseries (wholesale)
  • universities/schools/Technical and Further Education (TAFE) colleges
  • sports clubs/golf courses
  • theme parks and recreational facilities
  • large hotels/resorts
  • non-food processing/manufacturing businesses/extractive industry/concrete batching plants/fertiliser production, etc.

Consider installing your own recycled water polishing plant to produce a higher quality of supply that’s fit for your business purpose. For more information see a case study on The Star Gold Coast (formerly Jupiter's Hotel and Casino) which highlights their initiative to use an on-site recycled water treatment plant to improve recycled water supply from Class C to Class A+ for landscape watering and public toilets.

Work will commence shortly on Stage 1 of the Long Term Recycled Water Release Plan and will utilise modern construction techniques. For more information, please view the below video.

To understand what’s involved in the water recycling plan, view the videos below and the 'Breaking the Myths' fact sheet further down this page.

Recycled water supports sustainable business

Using recycled water is sustainable and can reduce your business costs.

Register your interest in accessing recycled water for commercial use by completing the form below.

Interested to know more?

Commercial customers can register their interest by completing the application form below. The application is to instigate preliminary investigations only, the outcome of which provides no guarantee of a recycled water agreement being established with the City.

Parties selected to advance to a more detailed investigation of the commercial opportunities must be able to:

  • demonstrate security of demand
  • provide technical details for infrastructure proposals
  • submit information on request for reference checks and financial viability assessment
  • show the ability to comply with the requirements of various regulatory agencies.

Further information is available in the Recycled water scheme register of interest background information document below.

We’re committed to identifying opportunities that can sustainably benefit our customers. Take a step to support your business, register your potential interest for an assessment to ascertain if recycled water could be suitable for you.

Watch the Water recycling process video on Youtube.

View the transcript for this video.

Where does the excess recycled water go?

While the City remains one of the largest urban utility users of recycled water, usage currently accounts for up to 20 per cent of all the recycled water produced. So what do we do with the excess?

Approximately 115 million litres per day of excess recycled water, treated to stringent health and environmental standards, is released into the ocean at the Seaway (Nerang River entrance) on each outgoing tide. Excess recycled water has been released into the ocean via the Seaway since the early 1980s and is licensed by the Department of Environment and Science (DES).

The performance of this system is monitored and reported to DES in accordance with strict operational performance criteria. These include location, timing, volume and quality of excess recycled water releases. We also participate in the regional Ecosystem Health Monitoring Program undertaken by the independent Healthy Waterways Pty Ltd. The Broadwater achieved an ecosystem health grade of A- in the most recent Healthy Waterways report card in 2015.

The long term plan for releasing excess recycled water

As our population increases, so does the amount of excess recycled water the city generates and our existing infrastructure capacity is nearing its limit. To cater for future growth requirements, we have developed a sound, affordable long term solution for the city’s excess recycled water.

The outcomes of a Staging Solutions Study has recommended augmenting the current system to ensure both the northern and southern components are efficiently operating at full capacity before proceeding to a staged off-shore solution.

An off-shore solution, located approximately three kilometres off the Seaway, means during dry weather we can utilise a system which will allow the release of excess recycled water outside of the ebb-tide. During periods of heavy rainfall, our system can become overloaded from incorrect stormwater connections flooding the sewerage network. This results in a significant increase of excess recycled water leaving each of the sewage treatment plants - as much as three times the amount recorded during dry weather! At these times, we will be able to utilise the existing the system in the Seaway as well as the off-shore system to effectively manage the demand on the network.

This staged solution will achieve the short term goal of meeting capacity constraints whilst deferring capital expenditure.

Stage 1 works will include:

  • recycled water pump station upgrades at the Coombabah Sewage Treatment Plant and the Benowa Re-Pump Facility
  • upgraded release points at the Seaway to allow for more efficient release
  • new pipelines across the Nerang River and Broadwater to allow for increased volume of excess recycled water to be released at the Seaway
  • upgraded pipelines on South Stradbroke Island.

Future stages of the Long Term Recycled Water Release Plan involve adding a release point at an offshore location, currently scheduled for 2022. The City has been conducting extensive environmental baseline and impact assessments to determine the potential impacts of an offshore release on the marine environment and coastal areas. The next step in the program is to commence the Commonwealth referral process under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), which we will be doing in the coming months. More updates on the future stages will be provided as the program progresses.

Watch the Long Term Recycled Water Release Plan video on Youtube.

View the transcript for this video.


Stay informed about the City’s long-term plan for managing excess recycled water on the Gold Coast by subscribing to our e-newsletter.

Learn how our non-residential customers are accessing recycled water for approved uses and how we are catering for population growth by improving the existing release system before moving to an offshore solution.

This bi-monthly e-newsletter aims to provide insight into the range of environmental studies that were completed prior to the design of the system upgrade and will feature interviews with a series of key stakeholders and panel of experts.

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Project update: Construction commencing soon

Further specific detail is available in the fact sheets below.

We have a long record of sustainable water management, including the development of innovative recycled water management schemes. The release of excess recycled water is a small component of our overall recycled water management program.

Please check back on this page for project progress and stage one construction works.

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Scope of works

Related information

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