The Critical Role of Impact Distribution for Local Recycled Water Systems

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
International Journal of Water Governance, 2016, 2016 (4:12), pp. 5 - 21
Issue Date:
2016-12
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Small-scale or local recycled water systems are increasingly being installed in urban centers in Australia, and throughout the world. These (often private) systems are in building basements, parks, on industrial sites and within small communities that are already serviced by existing public centralized water and wastewater networks. A consistent and fair assessment of the value of such local recycling systems, particularly in relation to centralized extension, augmentation and replacement, has proved to be problematic. This paper reveals why. It suggests that the traditional characterization of impacts into social, environmental, economic and at times technical groupings misses a key aspect in understanding the relative costs, benefits and risks of these systems: their distribution across the wide range of stakeholder groups. This paper proposes that accounting for the distribution of impacts is critical for assessments that include options of different scales and different levels of responsibility as there is a significant difference in the impact distribution between conventional urban water services and small-scale, local recycled water systems. This will help practitioners better understand the consequences of varying the impact distribution, particularly when moving from substantially public responsibility and ownership of assets to a mix of public and private responsibility and ownership.
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