How Can Water Reuse Support the Environment?
In addition to ensuring a safe, reliable, locally controlled water supply, water reuse can provide tremendous benefit to the environment and mitigates impacts associated with climate change. Water reuse is a multi-benefit solution that helps communities and businesses protect and restore the environment, safeguard public health, and manage water supplies efficiently and effectively.
Whether environmental restoration is the primary driver or a valuable co-benefit, water recycling can add a layer of protection to critical environmental resources, including:
Over-pumping and climate change cause ground-
water decline. Managed aquifer recharge with recycled water prevents the soil beneath our feet from sinking or being inundated by salt water.
Plants, wildlife, and fish depend on habitats with sufficient water flow to thrive. Water recycling can reduce the amount of water that humans divert from rivers and streams. It can also be returned to streams and other habitats to bolster the needs of sensitive species such as spawning salmon.
Recycled water can help enhance wetlands and riparian habitats. Wetland cells can serve as part of the treatment process while also providing flood abatement, migratory bird habitat, and recreation.
Impaired Water Bodies
Water reuse can be used to reduce wastewater discharges to bays, estuaries, and streams. In some cases, substances that would negatively impact a water body can offer benefits elsewhere. For example, nitrogen-rich non-potable recycled water can lessen the need for synthetic fertilizers when used for irrigation.
Recycling water onsite or near its intended destination can reduce the energy needed to pump water across longer distances or from deep underground. Fit-for-purpose water treatment also saves energy. Treating water for irrigation or toilet flushing, for example, is less energy intensive than treating water for drinking.