Reclaimed Water: What Happens At a Water Reclamation Facility?
Often used for irrigation or industrial cooling, reclaimed water is wastewater from homes or businesses that’s cleaned at special treatment facilities. Reclaimed water facilities remove solids and impurities, cleansing the water for re-use in order to promote conservation. It’s a meticulous, multi-step process; let’s take a deeper dive, shall we?
There are three main stages to producing reclaimed water. First, the water is run through large concrete tanks in which heavier solids sink to the bottom and lighter materials like plastic or grease float to the top for easy removal. What’s left – which is usually wastewater and a bit of dissolved organic matter – goes on to the next step: Aeration tanks.
In an aeration tank, oxygen is run through the water supply to wake budding microorganisms, helping them breathe and feed on the leftover organic materials in the tank. As they grow, these microorganisms fall to the bottom of the tank, are removed, and then recycled back into the treatment process for future use.
Finally, the reclaimed water is run through filters of anthracite coal (a premium clean-burning coal), sand, and gravel. Why, you ask? Because this step removes any remaining gunk that’s suspended in the water. Once the water passes through these filters, it’s disinfected and considered safe for irrigation, cooling systems and, in some cases, even drinking water.
There are many benefits to human use of reclaimed water. Most importantly, it saves potable (drinking) water, which is scarce. Some people also believe that reclaimed water may be better for plants, grass and crops because it typically contains nitrogen and phosphorus.