Thursday, March 27, 2014

Recycling or Reclaiming Water: A Sustainable Solution for Industry

Recycled or reclaimed water is increasing its value to industries. Reclaimed water is a process whereby waste water (sewage) is treated to remove solids and certain impurities. Traditionally eclaimed water meets water quality requirements for biodegradable materials, suspended matter and pathogens. In more recent conventional use however, the term refers to water that is not treated as highly in order to offer a way to conserve drinking water. This water is given to uses such as agriculture and sundry industry uses.

The combination of water scarcity, energy demand, urbanization, sustainability and environmental protections are driving interest in reclaimed water. Reclaimed water is a sustainable solution that can be an integral part of their water use and management strategy. Municipal reclaimed water has been used for other beneficial uses for more than 50 years, but reclaimed water from industrial sources has recently become a new resource to meet growing water demands.

Recycled or reclaimed water reuses wastewater for beneficial purposes such as landscape irrigation or refilling groundwater aquifers. Such efforts also preserves the local water supply for drinking-water purposes, helps drought-proof the community, better protects the quality of receiving waters like rivers and oceans, and can produce renewable energy and other resources as valuable byproducts of the treatment process.

The purpose of these processes is sustainability and water conservation, rather than discharging the treated water to surface waters such as rivers and oceans. In some cases, recycled water can be used for streamflow augmentation to benefit ecosystems and improve aesthetics.

As reviewed in an article CDM Smith article titled Applying Reclaimed Water for Industrial Uses, the majority (56.8 percent) of reclaimed water in the US is used for landscape or agricultural irrigation. Reclaimed water is also used for aquifer recharge (12.8 percent) and industrial uses (10.0 percent). While industrial reuse is a small percentage of the overall market, it represents an opportunity to secure a future water supply and reduce total water costs.

The EPA Guidelines for Water Reuse includes opportunities, challenges and trends in reuse; as well as a description of water reuse applications and treatment technologies to be safe and successful. The guidelines also illustrate a framework for water reuse programs, especially for implementers or regulators that are starting a new program.

Click here to see the EPA Guidelines for Water Reuse (PDF) EPA Guidelines For Water Reuse (PDF). 

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