How many countries use recycled water?

World Water Statistics 2020

As the examples cited below demonstrate, if a country or city wants to change the way it uses and manages its water resources, it must first change the way people think about water.

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Which countries manage their wastewater better than others?

As wastewater recycling companies are starting to take off, Latin America has plenty of room to grow. In some parts of the region, wastewater is not even treated. Places like Chile that treat 90 percent of their wastewater are more than ready to employ recycling solutions. Other countries, such as Costa Rica (which treats less than 4 percent), will have the opportunity to implement from scratch the infrastructure and technology to treat and recycle water effluent.

Countries with water scarcity

A WWTP is a set of facilities where treated wastewater is subjected to additional treatment processes that may be necessary to adapt its quality to the intended use. In principle, domestic and industrial wastewater is taken to a WWTP (Wastewater Treatment Plant) to achieve a minimum water quality to be discharged into the nearest watercourse. But in this case it is taken to a reused water delivery point, here the water is subjected to more advanced treatments in order to obtain reclaimed water.

This process of water reclamation is one of the most interesting manifestations of the circular economy. The circular economy is an economic concept whose objective is to keep the value of products, materials and resources in the economy for as long as possible and thus reduce the generation of waste.

As quality becomes more demanding we have more advanced treatments, many processes are needed, it is not possible to eliminate pathogens with a single treatment or with many treatments that are not very advanced. As mentioned above, reclaimed water is obtained by a succession of processes to achieve the quality required for its use.

What should be done to keep water clean?

Wastewater reuse is a long-established practice for irrigation, especially in arid countries.  Reusing wastewater as part of sustainable water management allows water to remain an alternative water source for human activities.  This can reduce scarcity and alleviate pressures on groundwater and other natural water bodies.

Achieving more sustainable sanitation and wastewater management will require an emphasis on actions related to resource management, such as wastewater reuse or excreta reuse that will keep valuable resources available for productive uses.This in turn supports human well-being and greater sustainability.

Simply put, reclaimed water is water that is used more than once before returning to the natural water cycle.  Advances in wastewater treatment technology allow communities to reuse water for many different purposes.  Water is treated differently depending on the source and use of the water and how it is delivered.