Uses of Recycled Water in Horticulture

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What is recycling?
RECYCLING is a widely recognised concept in solid waste management. It is the process of recovering and reusing waste products from household use, manufacturing, agriculture, and industries, thereby reducing the burden on environment.

Recycling can turn the wasted resources that end up on street corners into a valuable commodity to boost agricultural production and fertility of soil. It helps in providing new jobs, developing new skills and contributing to community projects and social cohesion.

Recycling can also reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and incineration. There are numerous reasons of recycling, including cost saving, extended landfill span, resource conservation, energy conservation, economic development, pollution prevention and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. In recent years environmental benefits of recycling have become a major component of waste management programme.

What is recycled water?

Water recycling is a generic term for water reclamation and reuse, where the resulting water is referred to as recycled water. This term will be used throughout this document, but you might also  find a number of other terms used in the water industry. These include:

• Water reclamation
• Water recycling
• Water reuse
• Wastewater
• Sewage effluent
• Reclaimed water
• Grey water

 Water recycling can include:

• Recycling of wastewater from previous uses. This generally means the reclamation of water from domestic sewage effluent or municipal wastewater. These waters may be recycled from bathroom and laundry effluents (grey water), from the entire domestic sewage stream (black  water) or from municipal wastewater Recycling of water from agricultural and industry wastewater. Recycled water can be either or both of the above waters. Stormwater, greywater, rainwater and treated effluent are all alternative water supplies that, when treated as required, are suitable for a range of purposes. This can include irrigating grazing land and crops, in horticulture, industrial processing, in residential dual pipe schemes, and to keep our public and recreational spaces green. On this website, "recycled water" generally refers to fully treated effluent from sewage treatment plants. Recycled water is a valuable resource. It contributes to conservation of drinking quality water, improves the reliability of our water supplies, frees up water for the environment or growth, and reduces the amount of treated effluent discharged into our bays and oceans.

What can recycled water be used for?

Recycled water can be used for just about anything, as long as it is treated to a level to make it fit for the intended purpose, from a health and environmental perspective (Figure 3) . However, the cost of treatment may make reclamation uneconomical for some uses. Australia now has more than 580 different recycled water schemes operating, which use approximately 167 GL/year. The bulk of these schemes involve:

• Urban and municipal environments
• Households, golf courses and recreational parks.
• Industry
• Washing and cooling in power stations and mills.
• Agriculture
• Horticulture, forestry, pasture, flowers, viticulture and sugar cane. Other possible uses include:

• Fire fighting
• Groundwater recharge
• Municipal landscapes
• ‘Dual pipe’ urban uses
• Environmental flows and wetlands
It is now also possible for advanced treatment technology to produce safe drinking (potable) water. In several countries wastewater is recycled for potable reuse via groundwater injection (e.g. Factory 21, Orange County, California, USA) or where it is added directly to surface  reservoirs (e.g. NeWater, Singapore). Such planned indirect or direct potable reuse is not currently practiced in Australia, although it is being considered by some councils with severe water shortages....
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