Queensland school gets water wise

By Adam Coleman

In response to south-east Queensland's growing water crisis a Brisbane state school has developed an innovative water management system to slash more than two million litres a year from its water use, while educating students about the importance of sustainability.

The New Farm State School water conservation project consists of a 95,000 litre tank that collects rainfall from the roofs of all the main buildings. Water captured in the tank is used to irrigate the school oval and is used to flush new water saving toilets. Electronic urinals have also been installed.

The school is also exploring connecting the tank to a backwash system to recycle the water.
According to New Farm principal Bill Carey, the project came about from a dilemma of how to water a vegetable garden and its oval.

“We established a garden for students to grow vegetables in and the difficulty was trying to get water to it. We didn’t want to use more water so [we asked ourselves] how are we going to do this?" he said.
“In looking for some solutions we identified that there were Commonwealth Water Grants and there were state grants for various areas like the Community Development Fund."

While the total cost of the project was $117,200, $57,200 came from the Queensland State Government, $50,000 from the Federal Government and $10,000 was raised by the New Farm State School Parents & Citizens (P&C) association.

The P&C provided engineering and planning skills, completed a Water Efficiency Management Plan and designed the pool backwash storage system.

Mr Carey said it was unlikely the school will become completely water sustainable as mains water will still be required for potable use.

“Kids still need drinking water and we will not be using that tank water for drinking water and for food purposes but certainly the irrigation and all of our main toilets are all connected up,” he said.
“The purpose really here is to look at the cost benefit to students in terms of their learning about sustainable practises and actually working with the community as well to help them understand some benefits in terms of how we can use things better and more effectively and in more creative ways.”

The school has also incorporated sustainability practises  into its curriculum.

“In fact we are planning… a real environmental focus around sustainability, greenhouse gases and global warming and those sorts of things, with the intent of holding an environmental conference. We work on that philosophy of think global but act local,” Mr Cary said.

See the March edition of Government News for an innovative water sustainable approach one private home has taken in the Northern Sydney suburb of Turramurra. (Water Self-Sufficient Home p10)

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