REMS a community driven scheme

The Northern Shoalhaven Reclaimed Water Management Scheme (REMS) is one of the largest and most complex water recycling schemes undertaken by an Australian water authority. A partnership between Shoalhaven City Council and the Department of Land and Water Conservation, the aim of REMS is to reuse up to 80 per cent of reclaimed water from six Shoalhaven Wastewater Treatment Plants.

“The scheme was driven by a strong community preference to protect the environment of the Shoalhaven region, particularly Jervis Bay, in light of a rapidly expanding population base,” said Planning and Development Manager of Shoalhaven Water, Bill Tomkinson.

Following extensive community consultation, it was found that the community preferred land based reuse, as well as a willingness to pay more in sewerage rates. This resulted in further investigation of reuse options.

“Dairy farming areas on the higher sections of the Shoalhaven River flood plain were identified as the most suitable for irrigation,” Bill Tomkinson said.

An assessment determined that beneficial reuse should guarantee an adequate water supply in dry periods, optimise productivity gains from irrigation and control potential for increases in groundwater levels that could be detrimental to pasture productivity and the environment.

The scheme includes six wastewater treatment plants, seven pumping stations, a 74 kilometre pipeline network, a distribution storage and bulk storage. Filtered, disinfected water is pumped from the plants through the distribution system to users. Regular monitoring results of the various areas and water quality are audited by technical specialists and community representatives.

“REMS improves the ability to fully treat wastewater, including large storm events, and uses an innovative system of constant flow valves to distribute water equitably to irrigators,” Bill Tomkinson said.

For further information, contact Bill Tomkinson on (02) 4429 3223.