Water Reuse

What Is Reclaimed Water?
Reclaimed water is highly treated wastewater that can be used to supplement existing water supplies. Using reclaimed water for irrigation, water features, and in industry can be an environmentally efficient and cost-effective alternative to using drinking water.

How Is Reclaimed Water Used?
Agricultural irrigation is a common way to use reclaimed water. Reclaimed water is also used around the world to irrigate lawns and golf courses. Water reuse programs can supplement lakes and streams to improve wildlife habitats; creates artificial lakes for picnicking, fishing, and boating; and provide water for use in fountains at many commercial buildings and parks.

How Safe Is Reclaimed Water?
Reclaimed water undergoes a high level of treatment to remove bacteria and viruses from wastewater. Extensive testing is performed to assure water quality standards are met. In the United States, for example, reclaimed water has been used safely for more than four decades. Water reuse is a safe and environmentally responsible approach to conserving finite water resources.

Why Pay for More Treatment Than Necessary?
Communities pay the costs when streams, rivers, lakes, and groundwater resources are tapped to provide drinking water in support of municipal, industrial, or agricultural use. This is because they are paying for a level of water purification needed only for drinking.

When reclaimed water is used where possible:
• Drinking water sources are conserved;
• Existing water treatment facilities last longer;
• Construction of new water treatment facilities can be deferred; and
• A reliable new source of non-potable water is established.
In addition, dollars saved through water reuse programs become available to address other community priorities.

What Can Consumers Do?
As new supplies of fresh water become scarcer and more expensive to develop, the value of water reuse programs continues to grow. Once the initial costs for capital facilities and distribution systems are met, the long-term results include substantial environmental and financial savings. Consumers can support water reuse programs in their communities when appropriate and contact their local wastewater treatment facilities for more information.