California’s use of recycled wastewater has increased since 2009, rising by nearly 45,000 acre-feet. The increase has been so substantial in fact, that in 2015, recycled water yield surpassed 700,000 acre-feet – an impressive amount of growth over a period of just six years.
For some people, especially the many water recycling and reuse advocates, these numbers are disappointing. Some had hoped that the yield and the subsequent growth would have been much higher than was has transpired. Fortunately, the projection for future forward growth is estimated to exceed one million acre-feet of water in the coming years. This substantial yield is targeted to enhance the supply of drinking water as well as mitigate the need to use clean, potable water, to meet irrigation needs of agriculture and industry demands.
Much to the pleasure of water recycling and reuse advocates, some information reflected in the less than anticipated water yield results survey may have been misrepresented. Taking into consideration all of the components reflects that California’s recent droughts and water conservation initiatives may have heavily skewed the reflection of the capabilities of the water recycling and reuse industry over the course of years past.
For instance, the recycling and reuse of water was measured during the years in which California suffered immense drought. The government mandated water conservation caused water usage to be reduced by an impressive 25%. However, the reduction of water use subsequently caused a reduction in the availability and supply of wastewater, thus reducing the overall possible yield of recycled wastewater inevitably.
Also, a major factor in the halt of substantial growth in recycled water yield is due to the economic challenges the state faces. While water initiatives are well supported socially and from an environmental standpoint, financially the funds just haven’t been available to move forward. The support of the community and the knowledge for implementation will only take a project so far – eventually, the potential for growth and the final outcome is dependent upon the availability of finances sufficient to support the initiative.
With the majority of water recycling and reuse projects taking place in seasonal irrigation efforts, the capabilities aren’t being used to their full potential – and water authorities and conservation advocates are aware. Taking main focus for future conservation endeavors is treatment and reuse of household potable water for drinking, cooking, and hygiene practice. Such usage is steady year-round, lending more potential to increase reuse yields.
With initiatives for water conservation as valuable as they are to California’s future, one thing is certain: water recycling will become a common household practice. With sufficient funding and the community’s continued support, water recycling and reuse will secure a more solid and sustainable future for California for the foreseeable future and generations to come.
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