Swimming in the (rain)water

A 25-metre swimming pool at Victoria University's Footscray Park Campus is now filled with treated rainwater, saving two million litres of drinking water a year.

The $300,000 system, partly funded by City West Water, is one of a number of initiatives under the University's Environment Management Plan to reduce waste, conserve energy and save resources.

Environment Manager Rachael Keefe said the pool water now comprises a combination of filtered rainwater and treated backwash water – a "standout environmental solution" to reduce the University's reliance on drinking water.

"There was added value in using this system as a showcase for water conservation since it provides the University with a live-in demonstration of new technology," she said.

The VU Aquatic Centre's new pool-filling system uses two underground and three above-ground water tanks that can store a total of 155,000 litres of rain harvested from campus building rooftops. 

With higher-than-average rainfall this year, the system started in July, saving more than 230,000 litres of drinking water in its first few months of operation.

Before the rainwater is pumped into the pool's balance tank, it undergoes filtration and UV treatment to ensure it meets health and quality requirements. The treated rainwater is also used for flushing toilets in the Aquatic and Fitness Centre, further reducing reliance on drinking water supplies.

About 60,000 litres of backwash water used to top up the pool also undergoes filtration and treatment through reverse osmosis, with waste concentrate running into a drain. 

The VU Aquatic Centre is used by hundreds of students, staff and school and community groups each week.  From 4-9 October, it is a host site for the under-16 girls National Water Polo Championships.

The University's water-saving measures were recently highly commended for a Green Gown award by the Australasian Campuses Toward Sustainability, an umbrella organisation aimed at improving sustainability operations for some 50 universities and TAFEs in Australia and New Zealand.


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