-- Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia #5451 (1732)
For every technological advancement there is generally a need or purpose associated with it. Water recycling is no different. Several regions of the United States are in the middle of a drought. Regional droughts have become much more common in the past 50 years. Drought prone areas, thanks to many water conservation programs, already use less water per capita than areas of the country with plentiful water resources. Due to tremendous advances in technology, we now have the opportunity to take water conservation to the next level. By reusing our water we can cut down the amount of fresh water used and better protect our environment from the wastewater we produce.
The process in which recycled water is brought to levels of water quality allowable for reuse is very similar to current treatments for wastewater that would be discharged into any environment although recycled water must be taken to another level. The process is also very similar to that which would be seen in nature, however at a treatment facility the “natural” processes are sped up to handle the large volumes of a municipality.
Step 1: Wastewater is collected from homes and industry through a sanitary sewer network. All material is brought to a single wastewater treatment facility.
Step 2: Solid material is screened and settled out of the wastewater. The solids can be disposed of in several ways. One of the possibilities is incineration. Ash can then be sold as fertilizer in agricultural areas.
Step 3: From here, bacteria is used to digest even more of the solid material. In many cases this step will be the difference between any normal wastewater treatment facility and a facility that will produce water capable of being reused.
Step 4: Water is then sent through a multimedia filter, usually made of 2-3 different sizes of sand to catch any last solids.
Step 5: Water is disinfected, usually with Chlorine or another similar bleaching agent, before it is ready to be pumped back to the public for reuse.
The quality of the recycled water is fairly close to that of drinking water. Water quality is typically measured in two ways: The amount of suspended solids (SS) and the biological oxygen demand (BOD). National requirements for each of these...
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Alternative 3 seems to have the most common good among the alternatives. The environmental aspect of the problem is solved without infringing on the right of the community.
While recycled water has already been used a great deal for irrigation and groundwater recharge, there are also many areas where the negative connotations of recycled water have not allowed it to be used. Not until very recently has recycled water entered buildings. Some newer buildings have begun to be fitted with two sets of plumbing. One as a potable source and another for either toilets or industrial usage, like cooling. Also, we still have the opportunity to really cut down on the amount of fresh water used and use recycled water and a drinking source all together. The answers to a lot of our water problems are out there with a little more research on recycled water.
Recycled Water is typically denoted by its purple pipe.
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