Recycled Wastewater, the way of the future?

Cathal Walsh
Environmental Blogger
Monday, 29th April 2019
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Dirty water flowing from pipe into stream

Recycled wastewater:

In some parts of the world, including Perth in Australia, there have been many initiatives to tackle water shortages. One of the most prolific of these has been the advent of using recycled wastewater. Under these schemes all waste water is retained and treated heavily before being fed back to the city for use as drinking water. This scheme uses all types of wastewater, even sewage water. This is why these schemes are called “toilet to tap” schemes.

For many the prospect of drinking water that was once used for sewage is absolutely abhorrent. The overall reality of the situation however is that in order to tackle the growing water shortage crisis in the world the “toilet to tap” schemes are a necessity.

Don’t however take this as a grim portrayal that in the future the water situation will be dire. Waste water is a resource that we produce at an enormous rate so tapping into this unused resource is a great achievement. It is also a fact that the treatment processes are so effective that the treated wastewater can often come out as pure, if not purer, than spring water.

Peter scales, a chemical engineer at the University of Melbourne laid out the process by which waste water is treated.  Firstly the water is filtered so as to get all of the solid impurities out of it, then it is put through a reverse osmosis system. Reverse osmosis is a very thorough process and even the tiniest of particles are filtered out when the water passes through the RO system. After that the water is often hit with an ultraviolet light so as to sterilize any pathogens or other bacteria that may exist in the water.

Scales says “We can supply water in a very pure state – purer than what they currently get out of reservoirs and rivers".

It’s pretty clear after looking at the evidence that using recycled wastewater is a good idea. It is also clear that processes like this will become a necessary in the near future so as to conserve the world’s water supply.  The processes are there and the end product is high quality. The only challenge left, and possibly the largest one, is to try and get the general public to rid themselves of any preconceptions when looking at whether they would drink recycled wastewater.


Information obtained from BBC :

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