IWA Publishing

Water Reuse

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Water is an increasingly scarce resource for much of the World's population. Global warming, an increasing world population and generally increasing incomes mean the demand for water is likely to rise further. If current trends continue, we will use 40% more water by 2024 than we do now. In industrialised countries much of the water used for non-potable purposes such as industrial applications, toilet flushing and irrigation, is unnecessarily treated to potable-water standard. We have to carefully treat wastewater to protect water resources and ensure water is available for abstraction. We need to take care not to over-abstract water from rivers and aquifers but  instead to reduce abstraction to within sustainable limits.

Reusing and recycling water conserves existing water resources, reduces the need for new fresh water and, because it is no longer discharged to the environment, reduces contamination and degradation of freshwater resources. Previously degraded sources can be reclaimed (referred as water reclamation) for water supply. Wastewater can be recycled/reused as a source of water for a multitude of activities such as agriculture, aquifer recharge, aquaculture, fire fighting, flushing of toilets, snow melting, industrial cooling, parks and golf course watering, formation of wetlands for wildlife habitats, recreational impoundments, and essentially for several other non-potable requirements. Potential reuses of wastewater depend on the hydraulic and biochemical characteristics of wastewater, which determine the methods and degree of treatment required. While agricultural irrigation reuses, in general, require lower quality levels of treatment, domestic reuse options (direct or indirect potable and non-potable) reuses need the highest treatment level. Level of treatment for other reuse options lie between these two extremes.

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