Recycled water originates from two primary sources: wastewater and stormwater.
Wastewater comes from water that has gone down the drains at our homes and non-industrial businesses. It travels from where it’s used to water treatment plants where it is, well, treated.
More than 99 percent of this type of wastewater is composed of water. However, in its travels, the water picks up other items like soap, oil, waste, toothpaste, dirt and cleaners.
Wastewater may also contain even smaller materials called micro-constituents. These tiny particles include trace materials from prescription medication and personal care products.
Stormwater runoff comes from rain, washing your car or overwatering your grass. It’s what’s not absorbed into the ground, but instead runs off of hard surfaces and into the stormwater system — ditches, culverts, swales, and other catchments and conveyances.
This untreated runoff can also collect surface debris like twigs, sand, plastic bags and even pesticides, fertilizer and motor oil.
Whatever its source, wastewater is treated to remove contaminants before being released back into the environment. In many cases, processes mimicking nature are used in a wastewater treatment plant, with added technology to speed the process and refine the water.
Treated water released back into the environment is carefully monitored to make sure that it’s safe for people or the environment.