Minnesota Turns to Water Recycling to Help Replenish Water Supply


Water is a precious resource.  It makes up about 70% of your body composition.  Almost every bodily process requires water to function.  A lack of any basic necessity is a scary thought, but a lack of water for consumption is the most frightening of them all.  It’s a genuine threat and some states like Minnesota which has been pushed to realize this danger take it seriously and are looking into recycling water.

According to Minnesota Public Radio, population growth, an increase in irrigation, and industrial use of groundwater resources are depleting supplies in a few parts of the state.  According to Jen Kader, the program manager for the Freshwater Society which is a nonprofit water conservation group, explained, “We don't often think about water being something that we have to consider being scarce in Minnesota.  Yet in some places, water resources are being drained faster than they're being replenished.”

State officials and environmental groups have decided to treat and reuse dirty water to build up their clean water sources.  Meanwhile, by capturing this stormwater, it’s reducing flooding and ridding lakes and rivers of pollutants.  After all, the water is fine, but it’s the stuff in it that isn’t.  

The way the process works is you take raw sewage, run it through bar screens and a grit chamber to take out the big stuff then run it through a primary clarifier in which the chunks go to a digester and for de-watering to produce useful biosolids.  Meanwhile, the water from the primary clarifier goes to the aeration basin and final clarifier, supplemented with a thickener to return to the digester or run through a sand filter and disinfectant to produce reusable water.  

So far, in Minnesota, state officials and environmental groups have been collecting, treating, and reusing dirty water for the purposes of reducing demand for clean water and ridding lakes and rivers of pollutants.

St. Paul installed a water-reuse system to save about 450,000 gallons of water annually.  Water is collected from the roof of the Metro Transit maintenance facility, treated for debris and microbe removal and used for toilets and irrigation for the field.  Also, in Hugo, a housing development is buying stormwater for irrigation opposed to using drinking water. According to the City Administrator, Bryan Bear, “The stormwater costs them a lot less to buy, and so that saves significantly on their water bill.”

Luckily, people are interested in reusing water in Minnesota.  According to Anita Anderson, an engineer in the Minnesota Department of Health, even though water recycling projects are expensive and the state regulations are confusing, there’s significant interest in reusing water.  She said, “We were starting to get more calls from people asking, 'Can I use this source of water to irrigate with?’  Or, 'I want to do an eco-development, and I want to recycle all the water on site.'"

Water reuse is soon to become a popular process in Minnesota, perhaps a pioneer for other states in need of water conservation.