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Water Reuse: The System Perspective

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Water reuse could be viewed as a system composed by different elements, which work together to achieve a final objective (goal) – the beneficial use of reclaimed water. In this article we consider the reuse of municipal wastewater, which is treated and applied for a secondary beneficial use.

An example of a water reuse system, focusing on the reuse of municipal wastewater, is shown in Fig. 1. Its two major elements are the wastewater subsystem and the reuse subsystem; the last includes the hydraulic structure, which conveys the recycled water to the consumer. The first has two secondary subsystems – the sewerage and the wastewater treatment facility. Each one of the sub-systems could function independently and are entities on its own. In addition, within the level 2 subsystems, each treatment unit or pumping station might be regarded as a system of its own. In this article, the system perspective gives emphasis on the linking and inter-relation of the subsystems and elements for optimum performance and results. From this perspective the water reuse system is part of the larger system of the water engineering structures at population center level and also forms part of the broader system at catchment or higher level, including the available water resources. Fig 1 should be viewed as an example only; in practice a large variety of alternatives might be possible, based on the elements incorporated and the objectives of the system, e.g. the system might include combined used of recycled water and storm water, or the objectives of the reuse might require the incorporation of both – the water supply and the wastewater system.

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