The growth of population is causing the demand for freshwater to increase at an alarming rate. Demand in such areas can quickly expand to exceed water supply if necessary strategies are not implemented. An approach that is quickly gaining acceptance is considering municipal wastewater as a vital resource for appropriate application including agricultural and other irrigation, industrial and domestic uses. This practice is called water reclamation and reuse and is an example of an Environmentally Sound Technology because it protects the environment, results in less pollution, utilizes resources in a more sustainable manner, allows its waste and products to be recycled, and handles residual wastes in a more acceptable manner than the technologies for which it substitutes.
Water reclamation is the treatment or processing of wastewater to make it reusable with definable treatment reliability and meeting appropriate water quality criteria; water reuse is the use of treated wastewater for a beneficial purpose. The term, reclaimed water, is used interchangeably with an often more acceptable term recycled water.
A number of sustainable and safe approaches to meeting increasing water demand with municipal wastewater have been identified. These general approaches include:
- Substituting reclaimed water for applications that do not require potable water
- Augmenting existing water sources and providing an additional source of water supply to assist in meeting both present and future water needs
- Protecting aquatic ecosystems by decreasing the diversion of freshwater, as well as reducing the quantity of nutrients and other toxic contaminants entering waterways
- Postponing and reducing the need for water control structures
- Complying with environmental regulations by better managing water consumption and wastewater discharges
Wastewater treatment schemes have multiple levels of treatment that ensure water discharged to the environment doesn’t pose a significant risk to the health. Treated wastewater is usually discharged to surface water and that surface water is often used by a water source for a water utility downstream. Hence, many systems use wastewater inadvertently. Thus, many water systems reuse wastewater inadvertently.
Water reclamation and reuse approaches utilize the same treatment technologies as conventional wastewater treatment, including secondary clarifiers, filtration basins of various designs, membranes, and disinfection basins. Each and every water reclamation treatment scheme requires some degree of customization; a great deal of work is done to define appropriate applications for wastewater treatment processes.
There are many barriers that often limit the implementation of water reclamation and reuse systems. Physical issues such as corrosion of pipes, blockage etc. can hinder the transportation of reclaimed water.
Technical barriers can hinder successful implementation of water reclamation and reuse programs as well. Implementation of reclamation and reuse programs often requires the retrofitting and construction of new systems as well as the development of new technologies This can lead to high costs that effectively limit the implementation of these programs.
Reusing rainwater or gray water on-site can have significant financial and environmental benefits. It is highly important to leave it to the experts to design and implement these processes. Panorama has decades of experience in water reclamation systems.