Can you remember the good old days, when “recycling” meant loading your car trunk with newspapers – only newspapers – and driving to a special collection bin? We’ve come a long way since then. Now, it’s common for cities to offer “single stream recycling” – paper, plastic, metal, cardboard, and glass, all collected in the same container and picked up regularly.
But what about our most precious resource: water?
Every day, tens of thousands of gallons of water are drawn from lakes in the north Texas area, purified in water treatment plants, piped into our homes and businesses…then washed or flushed down drains and sewers. The water that goes down the drain is captured and treated enough to release into creeks and rivers. But what if we could return that water to our reservoirs and re-use this valuable resource? Is it possible to recycle water?
The answer is YES! Recycling water is not only possible – it’s a great idea!
The future of wise water planning for Texas calls not only for smarter water use through conservation, but also for water recycling. There are two major ways to recycle water. One of these – filtering through created wetlands – is already in place just minutes south of Dallas. At the East Fork Wetland, just minutes south of Dallas, wastewater is pumped from the Trinity River into a 1,840 acre constructed wetland. The wetland acts as a natural filter to remove contaminants from the water while at the same time creating habitat for wildlife and a beautiful area for recreation and education. This naturally filtered water is then pumped back into Lake Lavon, providing water supply and improving water quality and the aquatic habitat of the lake.
Another approach to recycling water is the use of ultra-filtration. With ultra-filtration, water is filtered through membranes with tiny pores – a fraction of a micron in size – that remove bacteria, viruses, and other harmful organisms. It is then subjected to ultraviolet light and chemicals already used in water treatment. This carefully monitored advanced purification process results in water that is cleaner than most of what we drink today.
Not only can water recycling help meet the growing demands for water as our north Texas population grows, recycled water usually costs less than other sources and can be implemented more quickly than developing a new supply.
The future of wise water use in north central Texas is happening now.
The policies and infrastructure we install today will be the foundation on which the lifestyle and economy of our growing communities is built in the future. Let’s be sure that that foundation is a strong one by re-capturing, re-using, and recycling our resources – starting with water.