Reducing Wastewater Discharge by Conservation, Reuse, and Recycling
By William F. Harfst
Effective water management focuses on keeping freshwater withdrawals as low as possible by the implementation of conservation, reuse, and recycle policies. Conservation means eliminating waste, whereas reuse and recycle strategies seek ways to use water more than once prior to discharge. Using sound chemical engineering principles, plant wastewater can be regenerated by water treatment methods such as sedimentation, neutralization, precipitation, filtration, and biological systems to produce a treated effluent that is acceptable for reuse and recycle. All too often, however, the term ﾓtreated wastewaterﾔ implies that it is unacceptable for reuse and only fit for discharge to a municipal wastewater treatment facility or directly into the environment. However, this notion is quickly fading as plants face a public moral imperative to reuse and recycle treated wastewater. Economics tends to drive water conservation and reuse projects. Companies fund projects that they believe are in their best financial interest. Because water remains an undervalued commodity, it is frequently in the companyﾒs best financial interest to withdraw fresh water from its source, use it once and then discharge it (often thermally or chemically altered) back into the environment. This practice is in the best self-interest of each water user because it results in the lowest overall operating cost.
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