The use of a diverse range of water sources improves the security of water supply for the future. The use of alternative water sources needs to be safe, meet regulatory and environmental standards, and reflect community expectations.

Alternative water sources can be used to maintain valued green community assets, particularly with the challenges of climate change and population growth.

The use of alternative water sources can help protect our environment and retain moisture in our urban landscapes for cooler, greener cities and towns.

Alternative water sources refer to any supplies other than Victoria’s potable water network or ‘grid’. Alternative water sources include:

The use of alternative water sources provides a range of benefits to our community, including:

  • reducing pressure on our drinking water supply
  • reducing the amount of stormwater and treated wastewater discharged to land, waterways and our oceans that is creating greener, more liveable urban landscapes, especially in periods of climate change and drought.

Alternative water sources need to be managed to meet public health, environmental standards and community expectations.

How to choose an alternative water supply

Before using an alternative water supply, think about how you can reduce water use and avoid producing wastewater. Once you decide to use an alternative water supply, consider:

  • what you’ll use it for and how much water you’ll use 
  • risk of harm to the environment and human health 
  • resources and energy you’ll need to use the supply. 

Some alternative water supplies present higher risks to human health than others. We suggest choosing lower risk sources such as rainwater. Higher risk supplies such as sewage require a higher level of treatment than lower risk sources.

You should also contact your local council to find out whether you need approval to use an alternative watery supply. 

About rainwater

Rainwater is the lowest risk alternative water supply.

Find out more about rain water.

About greywater

‘Greywater’ means all non-toilet household wastewater. Its reuse can have health and environmental risks. Find out more about greywater and how to use it as an alternative water supply. 

About Recycled wastewater

Recycled water is treated wastewater to be reused, the treatment quality objectives are defined by the use. Depending on the exposure risk, the recycled water is classified into Class A, Class B and Class C quality. More details can be found in the Victorian guideline for water recycling (publication 1910) and Technical information for the Victorian guideline for water recycling (publication 1911).

Find out more about recycled wastewater and Class A recycled water.

About stormwater

Find out more information about stormwater

Read next

About wastewater

Water guidance for industry and review on the use of recycled water

How to manage wastewater and prevent water pollution from your business

Reviewed 7 December 2021