In many states there are significant issues regarding the availability of fresh potable water. The demand for fresh water is from three areas: fish, agriculture and drinking water. On the surface it looks like there is plenty of water in the rivers, lakes and aquifers. The problem is that 50 percent of Americans live within 50 miles of the coast. If water is drawn from the aquifer it could lower the level in the rivers where fish need a minimum flow for survival. If we draw more water from the rivers, again fish are impacted and agriculture may not have what is needed for food production. Building more reservoirs hinders fish migration to spawning grounds. In many areas it is said that there are no new sources of water available. What can be done?
Using Water Multiple Times
One option is to use the water we have multiple times. Some uses lend themselves to multiple use better than others. For instance, 80 percent of the water used at the Fenner Nature Center in Lansing, Michigan is used for toilet and urinal flushing. Instead of a standard septic system, they installed a series of technologies (that are readily available on the market) that produce an odorless, colorless liquid that is used for flushing in the restrooms. Only about 20 percent of the water used is potable water. That means only 20 percent of the wastewater needs to be discharged into a drainfield.
Water Reuse for Landscape Irrigation
There are locales in the US where some of the wastewater could be used for flushing toilets and landscape irrigation. States like Arizona, Ohio, Texas, and Louisiana issue surface discharge permits of treated wastewater when minimum criteria for treatment are met. Lowridge is developing a series of technologies that could be affordably used in a single-family application and cut the demand for new sources of water. Many states have adopted treatment standards that allow water to be used a second time for agriculture purposes.
Helping Secure a Sustaining Source of Water
Using the water again on or near the source will save significant infrastructure costs. Large municipal projects usually collect all the wastewater from a large geographic area, pipe it to a central location, treat it, and then pipe it back to the same areas where the wastewater was generated to be used again. Using water multiple times before discharge saves money and helps secure a sustainable source of water.
Wastewater & Water Reuse in Washington State
Serving Washington and Idaho