Not many people stop to think about where their water is coming from when turning on the tap. It’s hard to pinpoint where the water cycle started since the process is so far away from our daily lives. Who really knows where that stream of water was captured and cleaned before it was able to travel down the street pipes into your home/office/entertainment venue? Do we even know if it came from a natural lake, stream or water reservoir? Most likely not.
There is one scenario, though that probably is the last to cross your mind: Recycled water. Or as the specialist like to call it, reclaimed water. Not because it isn’t largely used or talked about, since the idea of re-utilizing wastewater just doesn’t sound all that pleasant.
Nonetheless, it is important to talk about how reclaimed water is growing exponentially and how the technology behind it actually works. Water recycling is used mostly in dry areas where there is a constant need for a dependable water supply. It can also help decrease wastewater that cause pollution, in addition to enhancing wetlands. For decades, the United States have been using this process for agricultural irrigation, groundwater recharge, industrial processes, and the irrigation of lawns, landscapes, cemeteries and golf courses. A few years ago the technology was further developed to expand to human consumption – as drinking water.
At first the very idea of drinking water that was derived from wastewater sounds gross and unreliable, however when you break down the process it becomes more rational and makes perfect sense. Let’s look at the process used by Orange County’s Water Reuse project as an example. They utilize the 3-step method where micro-filtration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet filters dirty water. This is a simple technique that has been used my nature for millions of years. Orange County is simply implementing technology to speed up the natural process of filtration.
Even though it all sounds very intriguing and maybe after looking into it more your initial reaction to “toilet to tap” water is no longer followed by a gross expression, it does have its challenges. Depending on the circumstances the methodology may or may not be the perfect match. There are territories where wastewater is very important to the freshwater cycle and taking that away can cause additional problems. For it to be a good option, the environmental context must be understood and taken into consideration.
Want to read more about Orange County’s Water Reuse project? Click here. Since regulations vary from State to State, research what your local municipality is doing.