Using recycled water

If you have recycled water, you need to know how to use it.

A number of irrigation sprinklers spraying water on pasture land

Recycled water provides valuable nutrients for agricultural land.


Woman watering garden with recycled water

Purple garden taps are used for recycled water.

Recycled water comes to you through purple pipes that are completely separate from the drinking water system.

You have recycled water at your property if:

  • you have a second water meter that's purple.
  • your garden tap is purple. It should have this sign near it: 'Recycled water - do not drink.'
  • you have recycled water charges on your bill.

Some new homes may have a recycled water connection in the laundry for the washing machine. The tap or connection will be clearly marked.
Our recycled water is treated to a high standard, but it's not for drinking.

How to use recycled water

Rouse Hill Public SchoolWe've supplied recycled water to the Rouse Hill area since 2001.

It's great for:

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

Don’t use it for:

  • drinking or cooking
  • bathing
  • filling swimming pools and playing under sprinklers
  • cleaning inside the house
  • filling evaporative coolers.

Rouse Hill Water Recycling Scheme

Our Rouse Hill Water Recycling Plant services an area covering 32,000 properties with recycled water in Sydney's North-West.

The area served includes all or parts of Acacia Gardens, Beaumont Hills, Castle Hill, Glenwood, Kellyville, Kellyville Ridge, Parklea, Quakers Hill, Stanhope Gardens, The Ponds and Rouse Hill.

We’re proud to say this is the largest and one of the oldest residential water recycling schemes in the world. Another recycled water scheme built for the Sydney Olympics started to operate just a few months earlier than the Rouse Hill project.  

Learn more about using recycled water in the Rouse Hill area:

Hoxton Park Water Recycling Scheme

Front of 2-storey houses with gardens

Using recycled water around the home helps to save valuable drinking water.

Recycled water will be produced at a new water recycling plant at Glenfield in Sydney’s south west. Recycled water will be supplied to homes and industrial properties in:

  • Panorama Estate
  • Glenfield
  • Ingleburn Gardens
  • Bardia
  • Edmondson Park.

Only properties with recycled water meters and fittings will receive recycled water.

We'll contact customers with an update on the scheme by the end of 2015.

To learn more about the Hoxton Park Recycled Water Scheme, call 1800 226 565  or email

Using recycled water for industrial processes helps save large amounts of drinking water. Recycled water is used in industry for:

  • cooling towers
  • boilers
  • some manufacturing processes
  • dust suppression.

Wollongong Recycled Water Scheme

Our water recycling plant at Wollongong, which has been operating since 2006, uses micro-filtration and reverse osmosis membrane processes to produce very high quality recycled water. The water is suitable for a range of industrial purposes.

We also produce tertiary treated recycled water at this plant.

We supply:

  • up to seven billion litres of high quality recycled water to BlueScope Steel from Wollongong Water Recycling Plant each year
  • recycled water to Port Kembla Coal Terminal. The coal terminal started using recycled water in 2009. They use about 450 million litres of recycled water each year, reducing fresh water use by over 70%.

Our map shows where these customers are located.  

Rosehill Recycled Water Scheme

Rosehill Recycled Water Scheme is a private sector project that began operating in October 2011. The scheme supplies over three billion litres of recycled water a year to five major industrial customers and a racecourse in the Rosehill and Smithfield areas.
AquaNet Sydney (a division of Jemena) built, owns and operates the scheme. They work in partnership with Veolia Water and are supported by Sydney Water

Read more in our Rosehill Recycled Water Scheme fact sheet.

On-site recycling at wastewater treatment plants

Large machinery with water streaming onto conveyor belt

BlueScope Steel in Wollongong uses recycled water.

Our wastewater treatment plants are among the largest users of recycled water.

About 96% of the plants' water needs are met with recycled water - that's about 15 billion litres of recycled water a year.

Recycled water is a reliable alternative water supply for irrigation. We supplied about five billion litres of recycled water in 2014-15 to irrigate golf courses, sports fields, parks, farms and racecourses in the Sydney region.
Using recycled water for irrigation provides valuable nutrients for plant growth, reducing the need to use chemical fertilisers. The appropriate use of recycled water can also reduce long term costs of maintaining sportsfield and racetrack surfaces. 

Recycled water irrigation schemes

The amount of recycled water used by customers varies, depending on the weather and other factors. We supply recycled water for irrigation to many customers:

Parks and sports fields

Golf courses

Farms and racecourses

Our map shows where these customers are located.

St Marys Water Recycling Plant

Water gushing out of four round metal pipes

Extensive monitoring ensures the plant meets NSW Health water quality requirements.

This is Sydney’s largest water recycling project, producing up to 18 billion litres of very high quality water a year.  As far as we know, it’s the only plant in the world producing recycled water on this scale and quality for river health. 

This project:

  • helps reduce nutrient levels in the river
  • boosts river flows, especially in dry times
  • saves drinking water – it replaces some of the flows that would otherwise have been released from Warragamba Dam, Sydney’s major water supply.

The project links three major water recycling plants and sends water into the Hawkesbury-Nepean River system at Penrith. This
map provides more detail.

Recycled water from the St Marys plant is similar in quality to distilled water. 

How it works

At the St Marys plant, we treat over 35 million litres of wastewater each day from homes and businesses across western Sydney.

There are two types of recycled water produced at the St Marys complex – reverse osmosis water for the Hawkesbury-Nepean River and tertiary treated water for agriculture and irrigation.

As well as screening, biological treatment and filtering, the recycled water is pumped through extremely fine membranes, then disinfected.

Look at the  diagram to learn more about the process.

See it yourself

If you're interested in taking a free tour of the St Marys Water Recycling Plant, call us on 1800 724 650 or email us.

Key dates

  • 2006 - Environmental Assessment report displayed
    People in safety vests looking at large pipes

    The plant uses ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis technology to produce very high quality recycled water.

  • 2007 - Project approved with conditions
  • 2008 - Construction started
  • 2010 - Water recycling plant commissioned