Envis Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Saturday, July 13, 2024

Water Reclamation and Reuse


‘Wastewater reclamation’ is the treatment or processing of wastewater to make it reusable, while ‘wastewater reuse’ is using wastewater in a variety of beneficial ways. In addition, ‘reclamation’ or ‘reuse’ of water frequently implies the existence of a pipe or other water conveyance facilities for delivering the reclaimed water.

The development of wastewater reclamation and reuse in many countries is related to looming water scarcity, water pollution control measures and protection of the aquatic environment. There is also the need to obtain alternative water resources for a growing population. In cities and regions of developed countries, where wastewater collection and treatment have been the common practice, wastewater reuse is practiced with proper attention to sanitation, public health and environmental protection.

About 99 percent of most wastewater is water, and only 1 percent is solid waste. Therefore, natural shortage of water can be overcome by reuse of wastewater. Wastewater is a preferable unconventional water source, since the supply is increasing because of population growth, Wastewater needs to be treated before disposal in order to safeguard the environment. Reuse of wastewater will help to maintain environmental quality, and, simultaneously, to relieve the unrelenting pressure on conventional, natural freshwater sources. Therefore, much of the waste water generated after first use can be used again in the same location (usually referred to as recycling), or collected from one or more utilities that generate wastewater for use elsewhere (referred to as reuse). Managing water demand through recycle, reuse and reclamation, therefore, requires a thorough understanding of the sources, types, and effects of water pollution, as well as the water and wastewater treatment practices needed to achieve the water quality requirements of recycle and reuse, and the technological and socio- economic considerations that affect these water demand management practices.


Wastewater Reuse and reclamation:


  • Water reuse: Water reuse involves taking what was once wastewater, treating and disinfecting it, then using the resulting high-quality reclaimed water for a beneficial use, such as irrigation for golf courses, parks, highway medians, playgrounds and residential properties. The degree of treatment depends on what purpose the water will serve. Irrigation is the most common type of reuse.
  • Water reclamation: Reclaimed water is wastewater that has been thoroughly treated to remove harmful organisms and substances, such as bacteria, viruses and heavy metals, so it can be reused. By using reclaimed water, communities can conserve traditional freshwater supplies and provide an environmentally responsible alternative to disposal of wastewater. Reclaimed water can be safely used for a wide variety of purposes, including landscape irrigation for golf courses, parks, highway medians, playgrounds and residential properties. Reclaimed water also is used for agricultural irrigation; decorative ponds and fountains; groundwater recharge; industrial uses such as cooling; fire protection; and wetlands creation, restoration and enhancement.
  • Water recycling: Recycling generally means reuse of wastewater back in the same cycle where it is generated.


What is benefit of water reuse?


  • Important element of integrated water resources utilization and management
  • Treated effluent is used as a water resource for many possible beneficial purposes
  • For cities, wastewater would not be discharged to the water bodies thus reducing pollution to the water environment and not creating public health issues


Successful water reuse programme:


  • Providing reliable treatment to meet water quality requirements and environmental regulations for the intended reuse.
  • Protection of public health and the Environment.
  • Gaining public acceptance.
  • Economic viability




The water is clear, odorless and safe, but usable for only nondrinking or nonpotable water purposes in Florida.


Reclaimed water is permitted for many nonpotable uses, including landscape and commercial agricultural irrigation, groundwater recharge; industrial uses such as cooling, process or wash waters; fire protection; wetlands creation; restoration and enhancement.


Reclaimed water is used in commercial agricultural operations including irrigation of edible food crops such as citrus, corn and soybeans. The use of reclaimed water for raising edible crops by the general public is not permitted. It is necessary to provide public education on appropriate uses of reclaimed water. Water users must understand that reclaimed water cannot be connected to potable water plumbing systems and should not be consumed. Reclaimed water service providers also need to monitor their systems to ensure that there is no cross connection with their potable water systems.