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Water Science & Technology Vol 44 No 6 pp 1–10 © IWA Publishing 2001

Evapotranspiration for domestic wastewater reuse in remote indigenous communities of Australia

M. Anda*, K. Mathew** and G. Ho***

*Remote Area Developments Group, Institute for Environmental Science, Murdoch University, Western Australia, 6150. (Fax: 61 8 9310 4997; E-mail: anda@essun1.murdoch.edu.au)
**Remote Area Developments Group, Institute for Environmental Science, Murdoch University, Western Australia, 6150.
***Remote Area Developments Group, Institute for Environmental Science, Murdoch University, Western Australia, 6150.


ABSTRACT
In the past sewage ponding in indigenous settlements was commonplace as a result of overcrowding combined with inappropriate septic tank and leach drain design, installation and operation. The response over the past 10 years has been to develop reticulated sewerage systems to lagoons when the funds become available. These are often successful in terms of operation, improved public health and low maintenance but are expensive and wasteful of limited water supplies. Evapotranspiration (ET) is an effective method for on-site domestic effluent disposal in areas of Western Australia with soils of low permeability. Evapotranspiration systems have been established in a number of communities both for research/demonstration and as specified by architects. The systems usually follow two septic tanks for the disposal of all domestic effluent. A case study will be presented for a remote indigenous community where the ET systems installed for greywater only have been monitored over the last two years since installation. The use of evapotranspiration has enabled reuse of effluent for successful examples of revegetation and food production and points to the need for a holistic approach to design and service delivery in these communities that includes a total environmental management plan.

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