Purified, Recycled Water Will Play a Critical Role in Making Sure We All Have Enough Water

Laura Belanger“Reuse is important in the water-scarce West. Reuse is drought resistant, and when water is reused efficiently you can essentially double that water.”

– Laura Belanger, Water Resources & Environmental Engineer

Purified, Recycled Water Is the Next Big Thing

Proven advances in water technology now allow us to safely purify used water. Reusing or recycling water happens every day – if you live in a community downstream of another, chances are you are reusing water. Purified recycled water (also called Direct Potable Reuse) is using advanced water treatment to take the water a community has used and treated and then send it through multiple purification processes to ensure the water is clean, safe and meets drinking water standards. It can then be sent to homes and businesses. Recycling water for drinking relies on multiple processes to cleanse the water, such as microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet radiation. These advanced technologies help produce clean recycled water that is protective of public health, tastes good, is affordable, and benefits the environment.

This is the Next Big Thing for urban water supplies where our population is increasing. New water supplies are very limited, and climate variability may be increasing droughts. Reuse is generally drought proof, and when a community reuses their water efficiently, they can meet two times the water demands with the same volume of water. Stretching limited water supplies through reuse of water is important to a reliable water future for us all.

Purified, Recycled Water Helps the Environment

Purified, recycled drinking water can also help protect the environment. When water is reused, that means less other water is needed and can be left in the streams and rivers we enjoy. Without reuse, often new reservoirs or pipelines must be built; these are very expensive, take decades to build, and drain distant rivers or groundwater basins. Reuse can also use less energy, and thus help reduce carbon pollution.

Purified, Recycled Water Is a Proven, Innovative Process

Recycled water is used in homes, businesses and agriculture all over the world, including parts of California, New Mexico, Texas, Australia, and Singapore. Singapore uses an advanced water purification treatment process, and 30% of the country’s water supply is purified, recycled water. Orange County, California has developed an award-winning purified recycled water program that has been operating since 2008 and has transformed urban water management in the county. And to address recent drought conditions, communities in both New Mexico and Texas have recently implemented direct potable reuse.

Western Resource Advocates is Building Relationships to Advance Purified, Recycled Water throughout the West

Western Resource Advocates is building strong relationships at the local, state, and national levels and encouraging all parties to collaborate to advance purified, recycled water. We are working in Colorado to help develop a public outreach program. Staff member Laura Belanger is on the Board of Directors of WateReuse Colorado, which advocates for legislation and regulations to facilitate appropriate water reuse, promotes safe and effective reuse throughout the state, and works to improve public understanding of water reclamation. Western Resource Advocates is also advocating for recycled water in the Colorado Water Plan and championing recycled water to keep water flowing through rivers. Almost all of our Healthy Rivers efforts advocate for recycling water to stretch our limited water supplies, create sustainable communities, and protect our environment.

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laura belanger 2019

Laura Belanger

Senior Water Resources Engineer & Policy Advisor