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

  • rainwater 
  • greywater 
  • treated sewage (or septic tanks) 
  • industrial wastewater 
  • managed aquifer recharge (MAR), a process that stores excess water for later use. 

Alternative water supplies involve water recycling and reuse. This helps reduce the use of public water supplies. It also helps protect the environment because polluted water doesn’t enter waterways. 

There is a legal framework for using alternative water supplies in Victoria. 

Find out about the review on the use of recycled water.

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 need more energy to use 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. Rainwater use in and around the home (publication DSEO603) has guidance for how to use it. Health.vic has guidance for using rainwater in multi-residential, commercial or community buildings.

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 treated sewage

Find out more about treated sewage (septic tanks) and how to use this as an alternative water supply. 

About industrial wastewater

When managed the right way, which may include treatment, you can reuse industrial water for your business. Find out more about reusing industrial wastewater

About managed aquifer recharge

An aquifer refers to natural water storage below ground. ‘Managed aquifer recharge’ (MAR) is a way of storing excess water for later use. Find out how to use MAR: 

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 2 September 2020