of China Australia Food Security Cooperation Initiative (CAFSCI)

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New technology for productive and sustainable reuse of wastewater for irrigated cropping

Overview of Project

This project explored the potential of water technologies (namely FILTER) and assessed how they dealt with the wide range of wastewater treatment problems faced by managers in China and Australia. Project aims were to develop new and simple procedures for treating wastewater on land so that it could be productively reused. The FILTER technique, developed in Australia, was tested for use in China and further tested in Australia.Reuse of wastewater for irrigation in China could save scarce water supplies and produce the same economic benefits that have come out of many effluent irrigation projects around the world. It would also help deal with the serious environmental problems caused by the dumping of untreated sewage and industrial effluent into watersheds. However, inappropriate treatment and reuse techniques can result in agricultural products being contaminated with pollutants from the wastewater, or cause land degradation in the irrigated area or downstream.

CSIRO developed the FILTER (filtration and irrigated cropping for land treatment and effluent reuse) technique for Australia to overcome some of the problems in land treatment of wastewater. The system was designed to treat primary or secondary sewage and to use the nutrients from it for intensive annual crop-growing.

Key Outcomes of Project

Results of trials at both the Griffith and Wuqing sites showed marked reductions in pollutant loads to acceptable standards; crops removed high levels of nutrients and yielded well. The results confirmed that when the FILTER system is installed at sites featuring soil with a high capacity for phosphorus uptake, with a stable soil structure to maintain hydraulic flows, and appropriate groundwater conditions it can reduce pollutants markedly and make the drainage water suitable for reuse, other than for human consumption.The FILTER technique produced water that meets Chinese standards, and also NSW Environment Protection Agency standards, for biological and chemical hazards. This has led to a further project LWR1/2002/113 Application of innovative irrigated cropping and soil filtration technology for wastewater reuse and treatment in China, in part a response to the heavy investment in the technology from the Chinese. The FILTER system technology alone will not solve all wastewater treatment problems in China. However, the research to date has shown that it forms an excellent, innovative component of a suite of potential solutions.

Project Dates

01 Jan 1998 - 31 Dec 2000


Tianjin Water Conservancy Bureau - Scientific and Technical Department - China
China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research - Department of Irrigation and Drainage - China


Dr Nihal S. Jayawardane



02 6246 5811

Launch Website