How Drought-Stricken California Recycles Wastewater

Wastewater treatment professionals know that water recycling—the process of cleaning and repurposing wastewater—is not a new concept. All kinds of industries reuse water in their operations, including industrial laundries, car and truck washing facilities, metal finishers, and more. Municipal wastewater treatment facilities also recycle, collecting water from sewage, cleaning it, and using it for nonpotable purposes, such as landscaping and agriculture.

A growing number of local governments, however, are taking their water recycling efforts a step further, treating wastewater well enough that it becomes potable, or fit for human consumption and use. California has been leading this charge in the face of ongoing problems with drought and an ever-increasing population.

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The West Coast Solution – Wastewater Treatment

Beginning with the Groundwater Replenishment System in 2008, Orange County, California has been replenishing the water supply of over half a million residents with thoroughly treated wastewater. Their equipment handles upwards of 100 million gallons of wastewater every day, and the scope of the operation has caught the eyes of water treatment officials from around the world.

Because of the area’s struggles with drought, the Orange County system has pioneered “indirect” reuse, a system which puts an environmental buffer—usually a groundwater basin or reservoir—between wastewater treatment and the municipal water supply. Their three-step treatment strategy has also become an industry standard, using microfiltration, reverse osmosis, and an ultraviolet treatment combined with hydrogen peroxide to restore wastewater to the quality of distilled water.

Looking to The Future of Water Reuse

Following California’s model, some municipalities across the United States have been using wastewater treatment solutions to solve problems they face locally. In the Pacific Northwest, for example, states have been experimenting with water reuse to address wastewater temperature regulations.

It’s also catching on that recycling water is not only a way of saving money but also a benefit to local ecosystems. Freshwater lakes and rivers are no longer the only sources of potentially potable water, and sustainable reuse prevents polluted wastewater from ending up in these ecosystems in the first place.

While water reuse is expensive and requires a lot of energy, the costs are still less than the traditional method of finding and importing water from new sources. And although winning over public opinion about reusing wastewater is a challenge, California’s successful model is increasing public awareness and acceptance. With more public outreach, continued improvements in wastewater treatment technology and practices, and innovative new ways of thinking about water recycling, the future of sustainable potable water looks bright.

Contact M.W. Watermark to learn more about recycling water using wastewater treatment equipment.  

About M.W. Watermark

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How Drought-Stricken California Recycles Wastewater