Wastewater Recycling & Zero Discharge Plan

Water Recycling

  a. To recover useful materials from garbage or waste

  b. To extract and reuse.

While recycling is a term generally applied to aluminum cans, glass bottles, and newspapers, water can be recycled as well. Water recycling is reusing treated wastewater for beneficial purposes such as agricultural and landscape irrigation, industrial processes, toilet flushing, and replenishing a ground water basin (referred to as ground water recharge). Water recycling offers resource and financial savings. Wastewater treatment can be tailored to meet the water quality requirements of a planned reuse. Recycled water for landscape irrigation requires less treatment than recycled water for drinking water. No documented cases of human health problems due to contact with recycled water that has been treated to standards, criteria, and regulations have been reported.

Water is sometimes recycled and reused onsite. For example, when an industrial facility recycles water used for cooling processes. A common type of recycled water is water that has been reclaimed from municipal wastewater, or sewage. The term water recycling is generally used synonymously with water reclamation and water reuse.

Another type of recycled water is “gray water”.Gray water, or gray water, is reusable wastewater from residential, commercial and industrial bathroom sinks, bath tub shower drains, and clothes washing equipment drains.  Gray water is reused onsite, typically for landscape irrigation.  Use of non toxic and low-sodium (no added sodium or substances that are naturally high in sodium) soap and personal care products is required to protect vegetation when reusing gray water for irrigation. This standard encompasses residential wastewater treatment systems along with systems that treat only the gray water portion.

How Can Recycled Water Benefit Us?

Recycled water can satisfy most water demands, as long as it is adequately treated to ensure water quality appropriate for the use. The Treatment and Uses chart shows types of treatment processes and suggested uses at each level of treatment. In uses where there is a greater chance of human exposure to the water, more treatment is required. As for any water source that is not properly treated, health problems could arise from drinking or being exposed to recycled water if it contains disease-causing organisms or other contaminants.

Uses for Recycled Water

  • agriculture
  • landscape
  • public parks
  • golf course irrigation
  • cooling water for power plants and oil refineries
  • processing water for mills, plants
  • toilet flushing
  • dust control,
  • construction activities
  • concrete mixing
  • artificial lakes

Recycled water is most commonly used for nonpotable (not for drinking) purposes, such as agriculture, landscape, public parks, and golf course irrigation. Other nonpotable applications include cooling water for power plants and oil refineries, industrial process water for such facilities as paper mills and carpet dyers, toilet flushing, dust control, construction activities, concrete mixing, and artificial lakes.

Although most water recycling projects have been developed to meet nonpotable water demands, a number of projects use recycled water indirectly for potable purposes. These projects include recharging ground water aquifers and augmenting surface water reservoirs with recycled water. In ground water recharge projects, recycled water can be spread or injected into ground water aquifers to augment ground water supplies, and to prevent salt water intrusion in coastal areas.

The use of  gray water at decentralized sites for landscape irrigation and toilet flushing reduces the amount of potable water distributed to these sites, the amount of fertilizer needed, and the amount of wastewater generated, transported, and treated at wastewater treatment facilities. In other words, water reuse saves water, energy, and money. Decentralized water reuse systems are being used more in the arid west where long term drought conditions exist.  Successful gray water systems have been operating for many years,. They can meet up to 50% of a property’s water needs by supplying water for landscaping. Recycling gray water saves fresh potable water for other uses, reduces the volume of wastewater going to septic systems and wastewater treatment plants, and  increases infrastructure capacity for new users.

 

What are the Environmental Benefits of Water Recycling?

In addition to providing a dependable, locally-controlled water supply, water recycling provides tremendous environmental benefits. By providing an additional source of water, water recycling can help us find ways to decrease the diversion of water from sensitive ecosystems. Other benefits include decreasing wastewater discharges and reducing and preventing pollution. Recycled water can also be used to create or enhance wetlands and riparian habitats.