Decades ago, the reuse of water was not even under consideration in most communities. However, the current water shortages, rising populations and environmental concerns require water agencies to move toward reclaimed water as a sustainable solution. As we look to building a sustainable infrastructure that can withstand future droughts, combining water efficient technologies with recycled water will be crucial to our success.
Some of the most common uses of recycled water are related to agricultural and landscape irrigation, flushing of toilets, replenishing a groundwater basin and even drinking water. To restore reclaimed water, recycling facilities improve the quality of the water though scientifically proven advances in water technology such as: microfiltration (see process below), reverse osmosis, and ultraviolet disinfection. Although many are weary about using reclaimed water, the use of recycled water is highly controlled by regulatory agencies who determine that communities comply with very stringent conditions, ensuring safe use of the reclaimed water.
Americans have embraced “sustainability” in many areas of modern life, except when it comes to water resources. Just in the United States, thirty-two billion gallons of municipal wastewater are produced every day, and less than 10 percent is reused. Given these numbers, there is a huge potential for growth in technologies that allow for water reuse.
A study released in 2014 specifies that in California there is sufficient potential for potable water to supply all municipal needs, including commercial and industrial uses, for almost one-fourth of the population. In order to promote this viable water resource, California recently established legislation that reclassifies recycled water as a water resource. The state government also improved the process authorizing the use of recycled water for irrigation and allocated $200 million in grants to encourage related projects.
Water is a vital requirement for all living things and the ecosystems that support them. As our population continues to grow, more water is needed. Despite the fact that conservation efforts have produced significant gains and should continue, water is a limited resource, and the protection of water resources cannot meet the future water demands alone. In addition to utilizing fixture and other rebates available from Water Districts (did you know LADWP offers $500 in rebates per waterfree urinal? Learn more about it here), recycled water will an effective means to supplement local water supplies and reduce dependence on imported water.
Did you know recycled water is already being used in other parts of the country? In 2015, Florida reported that 727 million gallons of water was reused each day, the largest amount in the country.