Today’s question: Our water utility has opened a reclaimed water plant in our town. What is reclaimed water? Can we drink it?
Plain Talk answer: Reclaimed water, also referred to as reuse water or recycled water, is wastewater treated to reusable standards, but it is not intended as a drinking water source. Water users, whether industrial, commercial or municipal, are increasingly being supplied with reclaimed wastewater in place of potable water because it costs substantially less than developing new high-quality water sources for potable purposes. Reclaimed water is made suitable and safe for reuse through extensive wastewater treatment and by limiting public or worker exposure to the water through design and operational controls.
This water is distributed through a separate piping system – you may have seen the purple pipes being installed – and is primarily used for irrigation of public parks, cemeteries, plant nurseries, medians and, if the system is reconfigured for hydrants, firefighting. Other uses may include industrial cooking and heating, toilet and urinal flushing, car washes and other services.
For more information on this and many other water-related topics, check out Plain Talk About Drinking Water by Dr. James M. Symons.