Water recycling

Recycled water is water that's been used before.

We take wastewater and clean it to a high standard so it can be returned to homes and businesses and safely used again.

Recycled water is a valuable resource that can be used:

  • in homes and businesses to water gardens and flush toilets
  • in industry
  • to fight fires
  • to irrigate parks, farms and sports fields
  • to maintain river flow.

In 2014-15, we produced over 43 billion litres of recycled water.
Our clean, high quality recycled water is very safe to use, but it’s not for drinking.

The recycled water we produce must meet the Australian Guidelines for Water Recycling (Phase 1 – 2006). To make sure it’s safe to use, we monitor and test the water regularly at many points in the treatment process.

Schools, university groups, delegations and community groups can request an excursion to learn more about recycling water in Sydney.

Recycling and re-using water is a great way to save drinking water and help care for the environment.

We don't need to use drinking water to flush toilets or water sports fields. Recycled water can do the job safely and just as well.

We can put high quality recycled water back into rivers to keep them healthy and flowing. 

St Marys Advanced Water Recycling Plant releases up to 50 million litres of high quality recycled water a day into the Hawkesbury-Nepean River. This means less drinking water is needed from Warragamba Dam to keep the river flowing and healthy.

Saving drinking water by recycling also means we have extra water available in case of drought, and for a growing population.
Recycled water meter

Recycled water is delivered through purple pipes.

Recycled water is delivered to customers' properties through purple pipes that are completely separate from the drinking water system.

Remember, recycled water is only used for certain purposes. In greater Sydney, it's not used for drinking.

Your property has recycled water if:

  • it has a second water meter that is purple
  • at least one garden tap is purple. It should have this sign near it: 'Recycled water - do not drink.'
  • your bill includes recycled water charges.

Try the Does your school have purple taps? classroom activity.

Recycled water is great for:

  • watering lawns and gardens, including fruit and vegetable plants
  • flushing toilets
  • washing cars
  • filling ornamental ponds
  • fighting fires
  • washing laundry in a washing machine (you need the right plumbing for this).

Recycled water can't be used for:

  • drinking or cooking
  • bathing and bidets
  • filling swimming pools and playing under sprinklers
  • cleaning inside the house
  • filling evaporative coolers
  • any activity where an open cut might come into contact with recycled water.

The recycled water system has separate taps for safety. Look out for purple water pipes and taps, and signs near taps saying 'Warning - not for drinking'. 

Learn more about using recycled water.

We own and operate 14 water recycling plants. They recycle about 43 billion litres of water a year. Find out more about our recycled water network.

We run three of the largest water recycling projects in Australia.

Rouse Hill

Rouse Hill is our largest residential recycling project.

It provides recycled water to about 29,000 homes and businesses in the Rouse Hill area for non-drinking purposes.

St Marys

St Marys Advanced Water Recycling Plant is part of Sydney’s largest water recycling project. It produces up to 18 billion litres of very high quality water a year for the Hawkesbury-Nepean system.

This is the only plant in the world using ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis membrane technology to produce recycled water to maintain river flow.


Wollongong Water Recycling Plant uses advanced membrane technology to provide high quality recycled water to BlueScope Steel at Port Kembla.

BlueScope Steel uses about 20 million litres of recycled water every day to:
  • make iron and steel
  • cool the plant and equipment
  • reduce dust.

Using recycled water helps save about 17% of the Illawarra's daily water use.

Schools, university groups, delegations and community groups can request an excursion to learn more about recycling water in Sydney.