There are three words that, back in the day, never ran in the same circles.
Those three words are water, recycling and technology.
Water has been around a long time. Our bodies are 60 percent water, and it covers 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, so it obviously goes back a long way with things like earth, wind and fire.
Recycling, for much of its short life as a word, referred to aluminum cans and paper. Later on, plastic bottles joined the party at the recycling plant and turned into everything from carpet to clothes.
Early in its usage, technology meant computers, but now it applies to cellphones and all manner of digital gewgaws.
But common ground for the three? Wasn’t happening — until now.
Water recycling is all the rage today. It’s everywhere, from Melbourne, Australia, to Anaheim, Calif., from Big Spring, Texas, to West Virginia.
And why is this happening? Because of technology. And common sense.
East Fork Wetland
Water recycling uses high-tech membrane filters to turn municipal effluent into clean, safe drinking water. The process starts with filters with tiny, microscopic pores and then uses ultraviolet light and common chemicals like chlorine to reclaim and reuse water. The water is then put into a lake or an aquifer and later goes back into the municipal water system.
Water recycling can also be accomplished by the use of man-made wetlands, a feat of engineering, technology and nature. Filtering water through hundreds of acres of native plants cleans the water through natural biological processes. These much smaller wetlands provide as much water as huge reservoirs and also provide beautiful habitat for wildlife, recreation and research.
With our population growing, not just in North Texas but around the world, we need to use our resources wisely. That’s common sense. It’s also good sense to address our needs in ways that are cost-efficient and can be put into use at the local level in a reasonable time frame.
We should also keep in mind that nature provides natural capital assets that translate into economic value.
Trees can shade houses and cut our utility bills. Wind can provide electricity.
In similar fashion, water is a natural capital asset. As North Texas grows, we will have to deal with more wastewater. When it’s recycled and reused, wastewater becomes an asset. If we capture it, filter it and recycle it, we will make good use of something once considered to be unpleasant and worthy only of being sent downstream.
The recycling and reuse of water are effective practices that have become increasingly important and more widespread in recent years.
We are lucky to have wise planners and solid leadership at Dallas Water Utilities and other area water providers. They are considering ways to augment water recycling throughout our region. This planning includes more than simply using “gray water” to irrigate golf courses.
Texas Conservation Alliance takes a common-sense approach to meet the water needs of the Lone Star State. TCA recommends that we start with the most efficient and least expensive methods. Building membrane filtration plants and wetlands is an intelligent, cost-effective way to provide more water in the near term.
Water has always been part of our lives, and recycling and technology are here to stay. By using the three together, we can go a long way to ensuring adequate supplies of clean water for the future of North Texas.