Our Reclaimed Water

Shoalhaven Water’s Reclaimed Water Management Scheme (REMS) is one of the largest and more complex water recycling schemes undertaken by a regional water utility.  

REMS Irrigation

What is the Reclaimed Water Management Scheme?

The Reclaimed Water Management Scheme known as REMS is a wastewater recycling scheme designed to beneficially reuse treated wastewater on local farms, sporting fields and golf courses, rather than disposing it into the environment.  

Our scheme is one of the largest and most complex water recycling schemes undertaken by a regional water authority. First commissioned in 2002, the scheme now includes 14 dairy farms, two golf courses and several sporting grounds with reclaimed water for irrigation to well over 600 hectares of land.  

The initial scheme involved enhanced treatment and an extensive distribution network for reclaimed water produced from four wastewater treatment plants. 

In 2019, the Nowra and Bomaderry Wastewater Treatment Plants received major upgrades and construction of a new network of distribution pipelines which enabled these plants to connect to the scheme by way of transfer mains. 

What are the components of the scheme?

The system is made up of a range of components which include: 

Coonemia Bulk Storage Pond 

The bulk storage pond has a capacity of 600 megalitres (ML) which is around 12,000 average swimming pools or 600 Olympic swimming pools. 

Bulk Storage Return Pump Station 

The bulk storage return pump draws reclaimed water from the pond to supply the distribution system. 

Coonemia Distribution Storage Reservoir 

The distribution storage reservoir holds 4ML, it balances the flows pumped from treatment plants to end-users and maintains constant water pressure in the distribution system.  

Treatment Plants 

The treatment plants included in the Scheme are: Vincentia, Culburra Beach, Callala, St Georges Basin, Vincentia, and more recently Nowra and Bomaderry. 

Distribution Mains 

There are over 29km of pipelines that connect the treatment plants to end-users including a network of dairy farms on the Shoalhaven floodplain east of Nowra. There is also a 1,400m pipeline constructed under the Shoalhaven River .

Farm Ponds & Flow Control Works 

Each property connected to the scheme has their own storage pond which holds approximately one day’s irrigation. A flow control valves automates the rate of supply to each bulk user.

How much reclaimed water has been re-used?

Since its inception, REMS has facilitated the recycling of over 28,000ML of reclaimed water which is 70% of the total reclaimed water produced.

The Scheme has made a large contribution to the ongoing sustainability of local dairy farms and sporting facilities.

What are biosolids and how are they managed?

Biosolids are the organic solid waste product that is recovered from the sewage treatment process and processed for re-use as fertiliser on farmland. As with animal manure, the human wastewater contains nutrient rich solids which are treated and re-used to improve soil for agriculture and grass.   

During the treatment process, activated sludge is pumped from the bottom of the aeration basin to the sludge lagoons where it is processed through a dewatering machine called a Centrifuge. The end product is left to dry on a prepared bed before being tested and classified for reuse.   

On average, 5,500 tonnes of biosolids are produced in Shoalhaven every year -  100% of which is recycled onto farmland.

Growth stages

Stage 1A 

At a cost of $34m, the Callala Wastewater Treatment Plant was commissioned in January 2002. It was purpose built for the scheme and it included connection for irrigation to 14 dairy farms, a golf course and several sporting grounds.  

Stage 1B 

At a cost of $110m, stage 1B consisted of major upgrades to the Nowra and Bomaderry Wastewater Treatment Plants which were both commissioned in 2019. The project included the construction of a network of reclaimed water transfer pipelines, including a transfer pipeline under the Shoalhaven River which allows high quality reclaimed water to be connected to the existing REMS distribution network. 

The connection of the Nowra and Bomaderry schemes to the existing REMS has essentially doubled the reclaimed water available to end users to approximately 22 megalitres per day. 

Over 28,000 million litres has been beneficially reused. 

The reclaimed water produced by REMS complies with the Australian Guidelines for Water Recycling: Managing Health and Environmental risks, Phase 1 2006 and the NSW Guidelines for Recycled Water Management Schemes (2015).  

Other reclaimed water projects

Shoalhaven Water is committed to the beneficial reuse of reclaimed water where it is safe and economic to do so. Apart from the REMS, there are a number of irrigation schemes supplied with reclaimed water from Council wastewater treatment plants (WwTP).

Shoalhaven Heads

Up to 100% of reclaimed water produced from the Shoalhaven Heads WwTP is reused on a local turf farm and golf course.

Kangaroo Valley

The Kangaroo Valley WwTP was constructed with 50ML wet weather storage to maximise reuse on adjacent dairy pastures. To date 100% of the reclaimed water produced by the treatment plant has been beneficially reused, improving the sustainability of the farm. 

Sussex Inlet

Reclaimed water produced by the Sussex Inlet WwTP is reused on local sporting fields. A 2.5km pipeline has been constructed to supply reclaimed water to the local golf club.