History-making droughts in the United States have increased awareness of how vulnerable water supplies can be. Water scarcity hits hard on both an individual level and in nearly every aspect of economic life. Clean water is critical for human health, agriculture, many industrial processes, power generation, and the health of the environment. It’s no surprise, then, that water reuse is becoming increasingly important and increasingly common in many communities and industries.
Protecting water supplies
In some cases, turning to water reuse is simple necessity. When water is scarce, or being extracted from aquifers and reservoirs faster than it is naturally replaced, water reuse is a critical part of preserving future supply. This is true in the American Southeast in general, and in Florida in particular, where one of the world’s largest water reclamation facilities is located.
”Water Conserv II distributes 30 million gallons of reclaimed water every day,” explained Glenn Burden, Operations Chief at the facility. “The majority of that water is used for irrigation at nearby citrus orchards, with the remainder being returned to the Floridan Aquifer, which is the primary source of drinking water in the region, via rapid infiltration basins. This both reduces the burden on the aquifer and replenishes it.”
In another water-stressed region, Woodard & Curran worked with the City of Victorville, CA as part of a design-build-operate contract to build a combined industrial and sanitary treatment facility. Located in the high desert an hour from Los Angeles, the facility has a combined capacity of 5 million gallons per day, and all treated water meets the CA standard for reuse and is used for irrigation.
“In addition to treating the water to a very high standard, the plant creates great opportunities for Victorville,” said Jim Chaplick, who managed the design of the facility for Woodard & Curran. “The industrial capacity attracted a major beverage manufacturer that brought jobs to the community, and is a draw for other manufacturing operations looking for a new site.”
The economic value of water reuse
Water reuse can also be an economic driver by reducing costs in water-intensive manufacturing operations or allowing for expanded capacity when water is a limiting factor. These two benefits came together for a Woodard & Curran beverage industry client with a manufacturing facility in the heart of California wine country. Facing restrictions on the quantity of water it could purchase from the local municipal treatment system for use in a west-coast production facility, they needed to implement a water optimization and reclamation system.
“The facility was forced to limit production because of the cap placed on it, so this system was a necessity to increase production. It uses ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis, and ultraviolet disinfection technology to treat and reclaim water that would otherwise be discarded for non-potable uses like cooling tower make-up and process cooling,” explained Lloyd Snyder, Beverage Market Segment Leader for Woodard & Curran. “This not only allowed for expanded capacity at the plant, which created new jobs, it also reduced energy use, saving the client significantly.”
Preserving water supplies, expanding capacity, and driving economic growth are all factors in the rise of water reuse across industries and communities, and none of these pressures are going away.