Four Current Factors Driving Water Reuse Strategies

Every community depends on a sufficient supply of potable water. However, a changing climate has put the water sector under pressure to find new solutions for clean water. Other factors, such as rising costs and new regulations, also contribute to this need. Water recycling or reuse is growing in popularity as a way to strengthen local water supplies.

What is Water Reuse?

Reusage plans treat water as a renewable resource. The stability of the liquid means that it can reenter the water supply after removing impurities. A water reuse plan is any technique that collects treated wastewater and transports it into the local distribution system. It can be as small as a residential home irrigating plants with graywater or an arid city sending treated water directly into a reservoir.

Direct vs Indirect Reuse

Reuse plans fall into two categories: direct and indirect. The type of reuse plan created by the local water industry will depend on the nature of the water supply.

Direct Water Reclamation

Direct water reuse involves the shortest distance between wastewater and drinking water. A local utility might place its wastewater and drinking water treatment facilities in close proximity. Water will pump directly from one plant to the next over a short distance.

While this arrangement can be cost-effective, it often must overcome consumer concerns. Although current water industry technology can produce safe, clean water, there is a gut reaction to the idea of drinking water that has recently been in sewer lines.

Indirect Water Reclamation

An indirect solution uses an environmental buffer between treated wastewater and drinking water. The wastewater plant releases treated water into a lake, river, or another water resource before it goes to the drinking water plant. This type of solution can support local wetlands and augment other natural resources. It also provides a sufficient pause between treatment and use to reduce consumer complaints.

1. Water Scarcity

Water reuse will become a necessity in areas subject to water scarcity. Changes in the climate have increased the drought season for states like Arizona, Texas, and California. Due to extended droughts, the water industry in these states has developed direct reuse strategies to implement during long dry spells. As areas of water scarcity continue to expand, more facilities will come online with direct reuse capabilities.

2. Saltwater Intrusion

Rising sea levels and shrinking freshwater supplies affect the delicate ecosystems around coastal areas. Increasing salinity can hurt local wildlife and intrude on the freshwater supply. An indirect reuse strategy releases treated water to supplement the volume of freshwater and create a natural barrier to saltwater intrusion. States like Florida have implemented water reclamation for this purpose.

3. Environmental Regulations

As government agencies work to improve the quality of natural water resources, the water industry must respond. Nutrient-rich effluent can result in harmful algal blooms, so regulations limit the amounts of certain substances that water plants can release. Indirect water reclamation programs divert the treated stream to less sensitive storage areas.

4. Concerns About Rising Costs

Utilities must provide a water supply that is reliable and affordable. Meeting this challenge is becoming more complicated due to expanding populations and the changing climate. Water reuse programs can reduce costs for both utilities and consumers. Although direct water recycling facilities will have high startup costs, they have the potential to lower operating costs. Running treatment and distribution plants in tandem lowers the cost of moving water and allows for resource sharing.

Residential consumers can also employ reuse strategies to lower their water expenses. Collecting graywater for irrigation will decrease demand for the local water supply. As filtration technology improves, homes in areas of water scarcity may employ small-scale direct water reuse systems, emptying clean water into a storage tank for a surplus supply.

SCADA and Water Reuse Strategies

System control and data acquisition systems can play a role in any water reclamation project. The array of sensors will provide information about current plant conditions. If the water supply falls below a certain level, the SCADA system can automatically employ the reuse plan.

A Partner for SCADA in the Water Sector

At High Tide Technologies, we specialize in custom SCADA systems for the water sector. Our team can create solutions to improve the efficiency of water collection, treatment, and distribution operations. Our cloud-based approach allows team members to access information on their mobile devices from any location. Contact us today to learn more about how we can improve your facility with cloud-based SCADA.