Sydney Water has been part of a project team which this week won a 2012 NSW Government Green Globe Award for exploring the viability of capturing and reusing urine from urban toilets as an agricultural fertiliser.
The “sustainable sanitation project” was led by University of Technology, Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures, and was the first trial of a urine diversion (UD) system in an Australian institutional setting. It examined the barriers and opportunities for urine capture and reuse.
Traditional sanitary systems are both water and energy intensive in collecting, transporting and treating sewage. On the other hand, UD systems use less water and energy and reduce the costs of transporting and treating sewage. UD systems capture and separate urine in special toilets and waterless urinals, store it to kill off bacteria and then reuse the nutrients in the urine as fertiliser.
Importantly, UD systems have the potential to provide phosphorus rich fertiliser for agriculture. As the world’s mineral phosphate deposits are rapidly declining, diverting urine to agriculture makes good sense. Removing the phosphorus from wastewater also makes it cheaper and easier to treat wastewater.
ISF worked with a number of key stakeholders including Lend Lease, Sydney Water, Caroma and Arup to develop Australian design guidelines for UD systems in multi-storey buildings.
Lend Lease’s design team is currently collaborating with ISF, Sydney Water and Caroma to design urine diversion systems for its Barangaroo development and the Broadway Engineering Building at UTS, as an approved sanitary waste system that complies with Australian Standard 3500 and the new Building Code of Australia.
Importantly, comprehensive data from the UD trial is now being shared with others including Yarra Valley Water and the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance.
The project is a leading example of industry collaboration and breakthrough research that will help transform industry thinking on sustainable sanitation. Please visit http://newsroom.uts.edu.au for more information.
Source: University of Technology, Sydney newsroom.