Recycled Wastewater Strategy To Tackle Future Shortages?
With drought conditions expected to become more commonplace as time goes on, finding solutions to the problem of potential water shortages in the future has never been more pressing… and it seems that wastewater recycling is just one such solution, being lauded by the chief executive of the Environment Agency as part of the answer.
According to the Independent, Sir James Bevan believes that people will need to be “less squeamish” about where their drinking water originates from, with companies potentially needing to use recycled wastewater to help resolve droughts and reduce reliance on water extracted from rivers and reservoirs.
In an article for the Sunday Times, Mr Bevan described water as a “precious resource” and not something that should be viewed as a “free good”. With this in mind, we’ll have to start being more selective about what drinking water is used for, he continued, suggesting that using these resources to water the lawn or clean the car no longer makes sense.
Water companies around the country could start trialling such a system, including Southern Water, Thames Water and Affinity Water. California already has such a strategy in place, a region that faces greater water scarcity issues and where drought is more common.
Just a few weeks ago, various regions around the UK were hit with hosepipe bans after drought conditions were seen, thanks to reduced rainfall over the summer months. In fact, the Met Office recently confirmed that between November 2021 and June 2022, England saw its driest eight-month period since the drought of 1976.
Mr Bevan went on to note in his Sunday Times column: “Perhaps most important of all, each of us will need to change how we think about water. We need to remember where it comes from: when we turn on the tap, what comes out started in a river, lake or aquifer. The more we take, the more we drain those sources and put stress on nature and wildlife.”
Potable water reuse, where treated wastewater is used as drinking water, can be achieved in two ways – indirect and direct. Direct potable reuse involves the treatment and distribution of resources without an environmental buffer, while indirect potable reuse uses a buffer such as a river, lake or aquifer before the water is then treated at a drinking water treatment plant.
In California, indirect potable reuse of wastewater is now being rolled out widely around the state, including new surface water augmentation and new groundwater recharge projects, Source Magazine reports.
Interestingly, public water supplies in the region have been supplemented for decades by planned potable reuse through groundwater recharge, as well as surface water augmentation.
But now, in order to meet future needs, new regulations are now being developed by the state’s Water Resources Control Board… so perhaps this is a sign of things to come for other parts of the world, as well.