RMSAWWA/RMWEA Joint Water Reuse Committee Frequently Asked Questions

 1. What is nonpotable water?
Nonpotable water is water that is not suitable for drinking. Sources of nonpotable water include raw water (e.g. reservoirs, creeks, groundwater), storm water, and reclaimed water.

2. What is reclaimed water?
Reclaimed water is wastewater that has undergone additional treatment, making it suitable for reuse applications. Common synonyms for reclaimed water include "reuse water", "recycled water", and "reclaimed domestic wastewater".

3. How and where is reclaimed water used?
Potential uses of reclaimed water include agricultural irrigation, recharging groundwater (rapid infiltration basins), industrial uses (industrial facilities and power plants), wetlands restoration, fire protection (fire hydrants and sprinkler systems), aesthetic fountains and lagoons, dust control (construction sites), and turf grass irrigation. Individual States regulate which uses are authorized; therefore, not all potential uses are allowed in every State. In the Rocky Mountain Region, reclaimed water is primarily reused or recycled for irrigation of grass and other landscaping at locations such as parks, golf courses, cemeteries, and green belts.

4. Is reclaimed water safe?
Reclaimed water undergoes enough treatment and disinfection to ensure the production of a continuous and reliable supply of high-quality reclaimed water. Reclaimed water is as safe or safer than water from ponds or streams. To ensure public safety, individual State Environmental and/or Health Departments determine the minimum levels of treatment for different nonpotable uses. These agencies may also enforce strict usage requirements upon reclaimed water users. If you come in contact with reclaimed water, take the same precautions as you would around water from ponds or streams, including common-sense personal hygiene.

5. Can I tell the difference between potable (drinking water) and nonpotable water? How will I know where reclaimed water is being used?
There is likely no difference between in either clarity or odor between potable and nonpotable water. Notification signs should be displayed wherever reclaimed water is being applied. In addition, the local provider of reclaimed water should have a listing of sites that utilize reclaimed water.

6. Why do we use reclaimed water? What are the benefits of reuse?
Water is a limited resource, especially in the Arid West. The use of reclaimed water is an important part of managing and conserving this limited resource. It reduces the demands on potable water, postpones costly investment for development of new water sources and supplies, and recharges groundwater. Using reclaimed water can also save money and provide aesthetic value.

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