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 What exactly is 'recycled water'? Doesn't it still contain chemicals and bacteria that would be harmful to us?

Posted on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2010

Recycling water is a great method for managing such a scarce resource more efficiently. Eighty-five percent of our campus is irrigated with recycled water, and we also use this water for the toilets of the Learning Commons. Recycled or "reclaimed" water is water that has already been used by residences and businesses; however, this water undergoes an intensive treatment before it is deemed safe to reuse. At South Bay Water Recycling, the agency that treats wastewater the South Bay, the water goes through 4 steps: 

1. Primary Treatment- The processing plant uses simple gravity to remove any large solid particles.

2. Secondary Biological Treatment- 'Good' bacteria removes any dissolved pollutants.

3. Filtration- Any residual matter is strained out.

4. Disinfection- Chlorine kills any bacteria, viruses, or surviving pathogens.

Although this water is not drinkable, it meets standards for "full body contact", meaning that a person could safely swim in it. In order to ensure the health of the citizens and the community, the water is continually tested and monitored to meet standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency, Regional Water Quality Control Board, and State Department of Health Services. Furthermore, recycled water does not return to our main water supply; it flows through separate purple pipes (which you've probably seen on our campus) that have signs saying, "Recycled Water- Do Not Drink".

Want to learn more? Visit the WateReuse site for more information.

Tags: Recycling process

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The Basics:
  • Recycling: paper, plastic (#1-#7), glass, aluminum, tin. Look for BLUE.
  • Compost: food waste, biodegradable material, (if it was once alive, it can be composted!). Look for GREEN.
  • Landfill waste: everything else! Look for RED or BLACK.
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