Canberra’s airport is a national leader in water management with a dedicated campaign to reduce water use across the airport and educate other water users – across the Australian Capital Territory and Australia – in how to better use scarce water resources. The aim of the airport’s water management strategy is to progressively reduce water use to an absolute minimum via a multi-targeted approach across the airport.
Water recycling at the airport
The airport’s Blackwater Recycling Treatment Plant, first launched in 2007, takes sewer, or ‘’black’’, water from the buildings and treats it to potable standards. The recycled water is then mixed with rainwater captured from the roofs for use in the airport’s toilets as well as for irrigation.
Airport water-cooling towers
Water cooling towers normally cycle their water two or three times and then reject that water into the sewer, accounting for between 10-25 percent of a conventional building’s total water use. To increase water-efficiency, Canberra’s airport uses more water-efficient cooling towers that cycle the water between 12-15 times before rejecting it into the sewers, using one-fifth to one-sixth of a conventional tower.
Canberra airport water-saving devices
Canberra’s airport management has installed water-saving devices in all new buildings onsite including reduced flow showerheads, infrared taps, dual flush toilets and waterless urinals. In the older buildings the airport has installed the Desert Cube Waterless Urinal System reducing water usage by around 84 percent.
Implementing an active leak detection program
The airport has an active leak detection program with staff continuously searching for leakages or potential leakages in its buildings. Water sub-meters have been installed at all major uses while the airport’s newer buildings are electronically connected to a Building Management System that triggers an alarm when leaks are detected. In addition, the airport employs a licensed plumber as well as irrigation plumbing experts to repair leaks and inefficient infrastructure and repair irrigation leaks and monitor water usage.
Collecting rainwater for reuse
Canberra’s airport has a water tank capacity of 1.38 million liters for collecting rainwater. The bulk of rain runoff is collected from the Special Purpose Aircraft hanger complex’s million-liter tank. The water collected there is used for irrigation and fire fighting purposes.
Tenant water conservation efforts
A number of airport tenants have also introduced water conservation initiatives including Avis Australia and Caltex Service Station both having recycled car wash facilities, Qantas Defense only washing planes when absolutely necessary using high pressure washing, and Virgin Blue Airlines reducing the amount of potable water carried on board its aircraft to mitigate waste.
Airports have large water footprints that can be reduced through innovative technology and practices, providing a role model on water conservation not only for the local community but the nation as a whole.