There are a myriad of steps that people and businesses can take to protect the environment. Among the more effective methods of protecting the environment is to recycle, which can be done with plastics, paper, cardboard, aluminum, and steel items. It’s also possible to bolster recycling efforts by performing water reclamation. Water reclamation has to do with obtaining water from numerous sources before treating the water and eventually reusing it for industrial processes, environmental restoration, irrigation, and groundwater replenishment. Keep in mind that water reclamation is also known as water reuse and water recycling.

Water reclamation has the potential to provide an alternative to the existing water supplies, which can help with enhancing water resilience and sustainability. While some forms of water reclamation are planned, it’s also possible for it to be unplanned. For instance, unplanned water reclamation commonly occurs when a community takes their water from large rivers that have received treated water from wastewater treatment facilities. Some of the top examples of planned water reclamation include reusing water from industrial process water, landscape irrigation, and potable water supplies.

It’s important to understand that all water is effectively recycled and reused via the hydrologic cycle, which refers to the constant circulation of water on the earth and in the atmosphere. There are many different processes that occur in the hydrologic cycle, which extend to evaporation, transpiration, condensation, precipitation, and runoff. While this process occurs naturally, it’s also possible to perform man-made water reclamation to further support the environment.

This article takes a closer look at water reclamation and the various benefits that it provides to the environment.

Where Water Reclamation Sites are Located

An increasing number of municipalities throughout the country are starting to reclaim water that can be reused by the surrounding community. The purpose of selling this reclaimed water to the community is to make sure that these individuals have easy access to fresh water. For members of the community, buying reclaimed water is beneficial because it’s usually far cheaper than potable water, which helps to reduce the overall consumption of potable water. For any community that is attempting to implement sustainable water management, performing water reclamation can bolster their efforts.

If you want to find where water reclamation sites are located, you can do so by navigating to this website. At this link, you can identify the various water reclamation sites that are situated near your location. All you need to do is select your specific state and city. Keep in mind that these locations were last updated in 2012, which means that some of the information could be outdated.

Federal agencies have used this particular map to identify various locations that could be great candidates for buying reclaimed wastewater. When these utilities have been properly identified, federal agencies can contact the utility in question to learn more about how to purchase reclaimed water. If you’re unsure of how to use the map on the site mentioned previously, the link provides detailed instructions on how to do so.

It’s important to understand that data was only received from water utilities in six separate states, which include Florida, Arizona, Texas, California, Nevada, and Colorado. The information that’s provided for each water reclamation site includes the name of the utility, the name of the water reclamation facility, the full address, and the type of water that’s being used. The wastewater use types include commercial, golf course, industrial, commercial, and residential. With this information in hand, you can select a water reclamation facility that meets your needs and is located nearby. To make your search easier, it’s possible to narrow the search parameters by city, state, or utility name.

Before you obtain water from water reclamation sites, you should know more about the state and federal laws regarding wastewater. In California, standards for effluent discharge have been set to effectively protect human health as well as the environment. These standards were set and are currently enforced by nine regional control boards for water quality that have consulted directly with the State Water Resources Control Board, which is considered to be the primary regulatory body in California.

In order for recycled water to be reused, it must obtain certain levels of treatment, which are set by the main regulatory body to limit human exposure to infection. Title 22 within the California Code of Regulations also states that the Division of Drinking Water that’s a part of the State Water Board must develop treatment standards for any amount of treatment water that’s reused or recycled. These standards have been set for groundwater recharge and non-potable uses. If these standards aren’t followed, fines can be levied.

Types of Water Reuse

There are several different types of water reuse that you might want to be aware of. When a municipality is attempting to provide reclaimed water to the surrounding community, they can reclaim this water from a variety of different sources, the primary of which include:

Before these sources of water can be reused, they are treated for a specific use, which ensures that most of the impurities have been removed before the water is reused. In order for treated water to be adequate for use within the surrounding community, it must first reach a quality that ensures environmental protection and public health.

If reclaimed water is being treated for the purpose of being used in crop irrigation, the water treatment that occurs must make sure that the water won’t harm soils and plants, will be able to protect the health of workers on the farm, and will maintain food safety. Additional treatment for reclaimed water may need to occur in areas where there is more substantial human exposure.

Uses of Reclaimed Water

There are many different uses of reclaimed water, which can be primarily divided into categories of agricultural uses, urban uses, recreational uses, environmental uses, and potable uses. The many uses within these categories include:

  • Agricultural uses – Food crops that are commercially and non-commercially processed, seed crops, hydroponic culture, processing water, aquaculture, industrial uses, recirculating cooling water, cooling towers, and making concrete
  • Urban uses – Dust control, toilet flushing, public parks, private gardens, sporting facilities, fire protection systems, and air conditioners
  • Recreational uses – Snow-making, golf-course irrigation, recreational impoundments for fishing, bathing, and boating, and aesthetic impoundments
  • Environmental uses – Wildlife habitat, marshes, stream augmentation, wetlands, aquifer recharge
  • Potable uses – Aquifer recharge for use as drinking water, treatment until water can be used as drinking water, and augmentation of various surface drinking water supplies

Keep in mind that the Environmental Protection Agency does not directly restrict or require any kind of reuse for reclaimed water. States are typically in charge of maintaining these guidelines. It’s easier for states to regulate, enable, and eventually oversee water reuse because of programs that were implemented through the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act.

The Safe Drinking Water Act was created by the Environmental Protection Agency for the purpose of establishing drinking water standards that apply to more than 90 separate contaminants that can be found in water. The goal of the SDWA is to bolster public health protection. Because of these standards, more than 92 percent of the total population in the U.S. has access to drinking water that meets the Safe Drinking Water Act standards. The standards that were set by the EPA protect against man-made contaminants and naturally occurring contaminants.

As for the Clean Water Act, it was first established in 1972 to regulate the discharge of pollutants into U.S. waters. This act also regulated quality standards for all kinds of surface waters. Once implemented, the Clean Water Act made it illegal for an entity to discharge a pollutant into navigable waters directly from a point source. Examples of point sources include man-made ditches and pipes. The SDWA and CWA are involved in water reclamation because they protect the overall quality of source waters for drinking water, which makes it easier to reuse the water.

Water reclamation can be very beneficial to the environment and provides communities with the ability to obtain water without needing to use too much potable water. Since reclaiming water for reuse allows the water to be cheaper than many forms of potable water, there’s no reason for municipalities to not at least consider selling this water to the surrounding community. When reclaimed water is used throughout the community, fresh water is freed up to be used as drinking water. The various benefits to the community include being able to conserve drinking water, reducing pollution in the surrounding community, and providing water for industrial and irrigation purposes. The water reclamation project that’s taking place around the San Francisco Bay saves around 5.5 billion gallons of water every year.