Narara Ecovillage granted first community-owned water licence in NSW

John Huang Village Life

NARARA, NSW – In a first for a community enterprise in NSW, the Narara Ecovillage Co-operative (NEV) announced today that it has secured permission to operate its own fully integrated water system. Granted by NSW Minister for Energy and Utilities Don Harwin on the recommendation of the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART), the licences allow NEV to provide residents with drinking water from the community’s own catchment and on-site dam, treat all sewerage and provide recycled water for use in the village. When combined with stormwater harvesting and management, the system will allow the community to be 100% water self-sufficient.

Photo: Richard Cassels

‘Water is a precious resource and will only become more so in the future. And, just like power, securing a clean, reliable supply of water is essential to our sustainability goals,’ commented John Talbott, NEV Project Director.

‘Securing the licence under the Water Industry Competition Act (WICA) has not been easy. The Act is not geared towards smaller, community-owned and -operated systems, and the process took more than four years from start to finish,’ he continued. ‘We hope that our example can blaze a trail for other communities who want to also take control of their own water provision. We are all about challenging the status quo to show others what’s possible.’

The Narara Ecovillage site features a dam of 45 million litre capacity, fed by one of the tributaries of Narara Creek, with a pristine area in the Strickland State Forest providing additional catchment.

‘I’m pleased to accept the recommendation of the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) to grant Narara Ecovillage Co-operative both network operator and retail supplier licences,’ said NSW Minister for Energy and Utilities, Don Harwin MLC. ‘Narara Ecovillage is an innovative, sustainable development that is the first private community in NSW to take advantage of provisions in the regulations, to facilitate an integrated water-cycle management approach to providing water services to its community.’

Award-winning water recycling company Aquacell has worked with Narara Ecovillage throughout the development of this project and will provide operational support for the running of the water system.

About Narara Ecovillage’s integrated water treatment system:

  • Water from the 45M litre dam will be used to provide drinking water for residents as well as bushfire fighting
  • To make it safe to drink, dam water will be filtered and treated with UV and chlorinated in line with stringent health requirements
  • Waste water from homes and community facilities will be treated and recycled to use for flushing toilets
  • Recycled water from the waste water treatment plant will also be used for community gardens, lawns and landscaped areas as well as agricultural needs
  • The potable water system will be commissioned in the next two to three years, while the waste water treatment plant will be operational within 12 months
  • The integrated water cycle management system supports the aim for ‘no nutrients to leave the site’, with future plans to compost sludge produced in the waste water treatment plant with other waste organic material, creating a rich fertiliser for use on the site.