Recycling Water

Recycling Water:
Again and again and again

It’s pretty clear that there are a lot of choices.

We have made major advancements in water treatment technologies. As a result, we’ve dramatically changed our ability to reuse the water efficiently and effectively. Based on how much treatment the water has had, we can use it in different ways. What do we do with this recycled water?

Hillsborough County recycles 21 million gallons of water a day and is home to the largest residential retail reclaimed water program in the country. It works by treating the used water, then distributing it back to residences, golf courses and other outdoor areas for irrigation purposes.

We currently have more than 16,000 reclaimed water customers with plans to connect another 5,000 homes in coming years. Although this program has had great success and has saved millions of gallons of water that would have otherwise been wasted, we are still looking at the highest and best use.

Why Recycle Water?

Aside from those fashionably purple pipes, there are lots of good reasons to recycle water. Here are a few:

Tapping into the future

Water is essential to our health, our environment and our economic growth. Given its value, we have to wonder, why do we throw so much water away? Why do we use it, treat it, then discharge it when we could recycle it…use it, clean it, and, use it again and again and again?

Indirect Potable: When we put our recycled water back into the environment, it’s called “indirect potable.” That water blends with the water already there. We take water from the natural system, clean it and deliver it to homes and businesses.

Direct Potable: Another option is turning wastewater into drinking water. Here’s the deal: most people think the term “wastewater” refers to water from our toilets. Of all the wastewater sent for treatment, 99.9 percent comes from our showers, dishwashers, washing machines, sinks and everything else. Our toilets account for less than one-tenth of one percent of the “wastewater.” The most important thing to remember is no matter what’s in the water when you start, it CAN NOT be delivered to people unless it meets federal drinking water standards.

This choice has what is called the “Yuck Factor.” And yet, treatment and reuse is the most efficient use of our water because we lose very little of it in the process. It’s tightly controlled from the time we get, treat, use, treat and (potentially) enjoy it again. We call this “closing the water loop” and communities across the country think it’s a smart way to go. What do you think?