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Dialysis Project Saves Lives and Water

Posted in Models, Research by Kate Archdeacon on July 19th, 2010

Source: Smart Water Fund


Image: Bill Peckham CC 3.0

One of Australia’s largest providers of dialysis, North West Dialysis Service (NWDS) is set to save up to 1.68 megalitres of water a year per site through an innovative water recycling system. A Smart Water Fund grant enabled NWDS to investigate a system that captures clean reject water generated during the dialysis procedure for reuse in a number of its facilities. This water would otherwise go directly to sewer.

“We’ve worked with 23 of our sites to find beneficial uses for waste water that also have an acceptable project payback timeframe,” said James Gerrish, NWDS Business Activity Coordinator and Project Manager.  “Instead of going straight to sewer, it’s possible to use the water for toilet flushing in health care facilities, as wash down water, in air- conditioning cooling towers and to water gardens in regional facilities.  For example our Wodonga site could rescue six litres of water per minute during dialysis and use it for toilet flusher tanks or cooling towers,” Mr Gerrish said. “This equates to 1.68 megalitres of water a year – that’s enough to half-fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool.”

A key aspect of the project’s success has been to determine the quality of the reject water and ensure water use demand matches the consistent quantities of water produced during dialysis.  “Many regional dialysis centres are co-located with aged care facilities in regions with tough water restrictions,” Mr Gerrish said. “While demand for irrigation water fluctuates throughout the year, these sites place a high value on this water use as they see the therapeutic and aesthetic value of maintaining their gardens.”

In addition to saving millions of litres of clean water a year, a key project outcome will be the development of a dialysis water reuse handbook for dialysis providers across Australia. NWDS project sites will also receive a detailed individual site report and an overall project report enabling benchmarking with similar facilities.

Part of Melbourne Health, NWDS, provides haemodialysis (blood filtration) for approximately 580 Victorians with kidney failure at 30 centres and 150 homes. NWDS dialysis units range from regional and rural healthcare centres to metropolitan dialysis services, including the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Read more about the project.

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