Bringing reuse water to the mainstream

Population growth, urbanization and persistent drought are straining water resources in various regions around the world, while pollution and contamination compound these challenges. As this situation intensifies, water technology companies like Xylem are working to advance the conversation on sustainable water supply strategies, including the use of recycled water – or reuse water – to tackle water shortages.

The reality is that water scarcity is an issue facing communities in every corner of the world, but solutions exist to address this challenge. Advanced treatment technologies have demonstrated that wastewater can be purified well beyond drinking water standards and reused safely for both potable and non-potable purposes.

Reusing water can also have numerous economic benefits, reused water is less expensive than generating water through other technologies such as desalination, which means savings for both public utilities and citizens.


Advanced treatment technologies play key role

Advanced technologies are a key part of the foundation to support the development of potable reuse projects. New developments in oxidation-enhanced, biologically active filtration and UV disinfection are helping utilities around the world achieve reuse water quality standards, while delivering optimal performance, reliable operations and substantial energy savings.

Xylem is engaged in initiatives to build support for water reuse throughout the world:

  • In California, advanced treatment technologies are helping to combat water shortages due to drought. For example, the Santa Clara Valley Water District is using ultraviolet (UV) light to produce recycled water for use by commercial and industrial customers, and the city of Los Angeles is incorporating UV light and chlorine in a cutting-edge advanced oxidation process to augment dwindling groundwater supplies. Xylem’s ozone and biologically active filtration processes are also being provided to produce high-quality water to supplement surface water supplies in San Diego.
  • Using a multi-step disinfection process, Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD) in Virginia Beach, Virginia, implemented an innovative water treatment program called SWIFT (Sustainable Water Initiative for Tomorrow). The program puts highly treated water through additional rounds of advanced water treatment to meet strict drinking water quality standards. SWIFT water is then added to the Potomac Aquifer to help slow and potentially reverse the shrinking of land due to withdrawal, help restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay and give the region a sustainable source of groundwater.
  • In Saudi Arabia, a sewage treatment plant was expanded to help meet the country’s ambitious target for water reuse. An integrated wastewater treatment system from Xylem helps generate over 52 million gallons per day of treated water per day.

Expanding water reuse practices and customizing water treatment options such as Ozone Oxidation, Biologically Active Filtration, UV Disinfection and Advanced Oxidation Processes are increasingly necessary for water utilities to develop resiliency against local water challenges that range from protecting the environment to securing long-term water supply independence.


Wide-scale adoption

As climate change and continued population growth put even more pressure on already overstretched water resources around the world, water reuse applications are becoming increasingly important.

Accelerating the adoption of reuse technologies requires a combination of smart water policies and public education. As support for public policies to promote the use of recycled water and advancing technologies become more affordable, the treatment and recycling of wastewater for potable and non-potable use will continue to grow. We must spread the word that water reuse is a viable, safe and sustainable solution that will be essential to help solving the world’s future water needs. Ultimately it is the water’s quality that counts, and not the water’s  history.