Water Grand Challenges: Water Reuse Options in Texas
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As the need for water increases in Texas, alternative water management strategies need to be adopted to meet this demand. Reuse is an important strategy that could greatly enhance the longevity of water usefulness without the need to increase supply. Water reuse generally refers to the process of using treated wastewater for a beneficial purpose. There are many misconceptions regarding water reuse. Reclaimed water is not the same as greywater, which is untreated and typically comes from household sources such as showers, sinks, and baths. In contrast, reclaimed water is highly regulated, managed, and offers many beneficial uses at the municipal and state level. Water reclamation falls into two categories, direct or indirect reuse. Direct reuse refers to the introduction of reclaimed water directly to the point of distribution, such as taking treated wastewater to a community golf course for watering purposes. Indirect use takes the treated effluent and places it in a source for later use, such as a lake, river, or aquifer.1
Despite some misunderstanding among the public, reclaimed water can be safe for contact and its use is well developed. The Texas Administrative Code Title 30 § 210.3 categorizes reclaimed water into Type I and Type II. Type I reclamation is for use where humans may come into direct contact with the water, whereas type II is for use where humans will not come into contact with the reclaimed water.1 As can be seen in the table, there are a myriad of uses for each type of reclamation. The following sections are going to discuss some successful programs that have implemented a water reclamation program in Texas as well as future directions the State may take.