Around the world, in countries ranging from Jordan to India to the United States, people are embracing new ways to reuse their treated wastewater. If you are worried about waning water supplies, you may be wondering which types of wastewater reuse possibilities are being explored. With adequate treatment and sterilisation, wastewater can be used for the following five purposes as well as others:
1. Residential Irrigation
Treated wastewater can be used safely for residential irrigation, and in many cases, home plumbing systems can even be designed to collect the home's own greywater for its own residential irrigation use. Greywater includes any used water that does not have solid human waste in it.
It excludes toilet water but includes water from washing. However, with special toilets, designed with two different flushing options, toilet water with feces in it can be directed into the sewage system while toilet water with only urine in it can be directed to the greywater system.
Once collected, greywater can be used for watering lawns and gardens, and Australians who use these systems for their outdoor irrigation needs, reduce their potable water consumption by 30 to 50 percent.
2. Non Potable Indoor Water Use
With a small amount of treatment, greywater can be used indoors as well as outdoors. While it should not be drank, a wastewater system can be used to run washing machines and to flush toilets, two of the biggest indoor uses of water.
3. Making Beer
In addition to reusing your own wastewater, wastewater can be collected by treatment plants and reused by the community. For example, in the American state of Oregon, wastewater treatment facilities are using special treatment methods to expedite the waste water cleaning process.
As of 2015, the treated water has not been approved for consumption by humans, but a group of Oregonian brewers hope to change that. They want to make craft beer using the treated wastewater as a base. They argue that brewing is an extremely fun, effective and tasty way to reuse the water, and they hope to gain permission from state health officials to serve the beer at an upcoming community event.
4. Municipal and Farming Irrigation
Even if a community is not ready to start turning their wastewater into beer so that they can drink it, there are other ways they may be able to utilise their wastewater. Just as certain wastewater can be used for residential irrigation, it can also be used for municipal irrigation or for farming.
In Tunisia, for example, treated wastewater is mixed with groundwater, and then, it is used to irrigate citrus trees, olive trees, forage crops and cotton fields in addition to golf courses and hotel lawns. This approach lowers the community's reliance on new, fresh water. Essentially, it conserves that resource while putting used water back into the cycle more quickly.
5. Wildlife Habitat Enhancement
In addition to helping people and communities, there are a few ways treated wastewater can be used in wildlife habitat enhancement. The use of a stabilisation pond can help the surrounding environment. Stabilisation ponds are fed a calculated amount of semi-treated wastewater, and once in the pond, the water is cleaned naturally by the sun and tiny organisms. The pond itself can provide a home to many of the insects and amphibians that are essential to the biodiversity in that area.
Additionally, treated wastewater can also be used in wetlands. There, it keeps the amount of moisture consistent for the survival of the area and its inhabitants. This approach can be a useful way to combat changes to wetlands brought on by heat and water shortages.