Stringent federal wastewater discharge regulations, growing population and increasing demand for freshwater essentially drives water recycling and reuse in the United States. The demand for freshwater is set to increase steeply with the increasing demand for water in industries, agricultural irrigation, lawn watering and other non-potable applications.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (environmental.frost.com), U.S. Water Recycling and Reuse Systems Market, reveals that the market earned revenues of $676 million in 2006 and expects to reach $1.3 billion in 2013.
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The population of the United States estimates to reach 420 million by mid-2050, which can put enormous strain on the existing water resources. This can, however, strengthen the demand for water recycling and reuse systems.
“Advanced wastewater treatment technologies such as continuous backwash filters and membrane bioreactor (MBR) are capable of producing water quality to a level that is acceptable for recycle and reuse,” notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Prabhu Sethuraman. “They can effectively help augment existing water resources to cope with the demand for freshwater.”
Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published a manual, which serves as a guideline for water reuse, it has not established any standards for water reuse or recycle. States that are facing water shortage or an increase in demand for freshwater have used these guidelines as a reference to formulate their own standards for recycling and reusing water.
California and Florida are leading the nation in recycling and reusing water. Some of the other southern states such as Georgia, Texas, Arizona and Nevada also have water reuse programs.
“The opportunities for water reuse are tremendous and the states are realizing its potential fits,” states Sethuraman. “The rising cost of water, which is a direct effect of the current water shortage, coupled with tighter environmental regulations, offers good market opportunities for existing and emerging participants.”
However, there is a strong negative perception on using treated wastewater for domestic applications such as lawn irrigation, car washing, or indirect potable reuse among the consumers. Although wastewater has been treated to a level that is fit for drinking, consumers, especially public, do not have a complete understanding of treatment techniques for reusing wastewater and find these ‘toilet to tap’ projects unacceptable.
Whether water use is for edible food crops, aquifer recharge, or purposes such as toilet flushing or gardening, issues such as color and turbidity of water and health concerns are giving them reasons to doubt the safety and usability of treated wastewater.
State water authorities and manufacturers feel that educating end users by highlighting the benefits of reusing water would help change this perception. They prefer addressing public health concerns and other issues through organizations such as Water Environment Federation(WEF), which have a much broader access and can disseminate information quickly. Educating end users is key to the growth of this market and plans are already underway to gain their acceptance.
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