Special Topics in Environmental Management

4 Points to Consider About Using Reclaimed Water

There are many points to consider when deciding whether to use recycled water for your facility operations. These include:

  1. The cost of water
  2. Quality constraints when reusing on-site wastewater
  3. Growing recognition of the value of reclaimed water
  4. Community and employee outreach 

Join us on Tuesday, March 3, for a webinar that will help you decide whether water recycling and reuse can work for you. Learn more.

The cost of water

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the costs of water and wastewater services have risen at a rate well above the consumer price index. Facility managers can expect these and other utility costs to continue to increase in order to offset the costs of replacing aging water supply systems.

There are those who contend that we do not pay the true costs of water. As this idea gains traction, the cost of withdrawing from surface or groundwater will increase as federal, state, and local restrictions on such withdrawals increase. In addition, where municipalities have, in the past, been pretty generous with their reclaimed water, many are now beginning to view reclaimed water as a revenue source.

Quality constraints with the reuse of on-site sources of water

Consideration for reuse of on-site sources of water include the quality constraints of the source and the potential types of treatment that may be needed to meet the quality needs of the proposed end use.

For instance, as the EPA points out in the publication, WaterSense at Work: Best Management Practices for Commercial and Institutional Facilities, if you are considering reusing cooling tower blowdown, the level of water quality concern for sediment, organic biological oxygen demand, and pathogens is medium, but high for total dissolved solids and hardness. You would also have to take into consideration the existence of any cooling tower treatment chemicals.

Water Reuse and Recycling—How to Evaluate Whether It’s Right for Your Business

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Recognition of the value of reclaimed water

Historically, municipal wastewater facilities have entered into long-term agreements with agricultural and golf course customers to deliver reclaimed water at little or no cost. Giving treated effluent away was viewed as mutually beneficial.

According to the EPA, many of those original agreements for low cost reclaimed water have recently expired—or will soon expire—creating an opportunity to develop reasonable rates and charges for the value provided. Reclaimed water is now widely recognized as a full-fledged component of integrated water resources planning. Municipal water utilities are being encouraged to view reclaimed water as a revenue source.

Community and employee outreach

As we pointed out in yesterday’s article, it is always a good idea to keep your neighbors and your employees informed as to any projects you are considering at your facility.

You can get out ahead of misinformation by simply letting folks know:

  1. The nature of the project
  2. How long it will take
  3. The anticipated benefits
  4. The short and long term impact on the facility and the community
  5. How they can become involved in the project


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