How Water is Recycled
- Water is recycled in two ways. Industrial plants can recycle water on-site for their own uses. Water is also recycled at recycling facilities. Recycling facilities treat and purify the gray water to remove detergents, dyes or other harmful chemicals. End use determines how much the water is treated. For example, water intended for use in landscape irrigation is treated higher then water intended for use in commercial toilets.
Types of Recycled Water
- Recycled water is either potable or nonpotable. Potable water is fit for human consumption, meaning people can drink it or bathe in it. Nonpotable water is the most common form of recycled water. While nonpotable water sources are safe to use around humans, it's unfit for consumption.
Uses of Recycled Water
- Nonpotable recycled water has several uses. Primarily, recycled water provides irrigation for farms, golf courses, parks and landscaping. Recycled water is used in industry to cool water for power plants, mix concrete or other construction uses. Private homes can collect and use gray water to water plants. Large office buildings use recycled water to flush toilets.
Benefits of Water Recycling
- Recycling gray water conserves primary water resources, important in areas where droughts occur. Recycling water cuts down on pollution, too. Wastewater often contains chemicals or dyes from detergents, soaps and cleaners. When this water runs off in to the ocean, pollution occurs. Trapping and recycling this water prevents that pollution. Gray water can also replenish wetlands. Piping recycled water into streams in the wetlands restores the natural flow of water.
Downside of Water Recycling
- The majority of recycled water is nonpotable. Areas with heavy drought need large quantities of clean water sources. Water recycling also poses a small risk to human health. While recycled water treatments remove the dangerous chemicals found in gray water, the risk of cross-contamination remains. Humans may become ill after being exposed to nonpotable water.