Water Reuse & Reclamation
Reusing water increases efficiency and reduces waste by getting the most work done per unit of treated source water. Examples of water reuse include the use of condensate for cooling tower makeup, or a closed-loop recycling system where process wastewater is repeatedly recycled back through the process in which the water was generated.
Reclaimed water is a sub-set of water reuse: highly treated wastewater from a municipal wastewater treatment system that is utilized for a suitable and beneficial purpose. Use of reclaimed water in its simplest form involves taking highly treated wastewater and distributing it to offset the demand for potable (drinking) water. “Purple pipes” are used to distribute reclaimed water. Reclaimed water requires extensive treatment and disinfection before distribution in order to ensure public health and environmental quality protection.
North Carolina’s water reuse policy and rule making statute, § 143 355.5, requires the Environmental Management Commission to “encourage and promote safe and beneficial reuse of treated wastewater as an alternative to surface water discharge.” The resulting rules are Title 15A of the North Carolina Administration Code Subchapter 2T.0900.
Facilities producing reclaimed water are permitted by the N.C. Division of Water Quality Aquifer Protection Section, Land Application Unit. Permitted reclaimed water systems can provide water for many beneficial purposes.
Under North Carolina rules, reclaimed water can be used for non-potable purposes including, but not limited to, the following:
- Irrigation of public and private landscapes and turf
- Soil compaction
- Dust control
- Non-potable processes such as concrete production and cooling water
- Industrial and commercial toilet flush and fire prevention systems where there are separate, non-potable plumbing lines
- Bulk fill stations
- Decorative ponds and fountains
- Street sweeping (not street cleaning)
- Sewer cleaning (not washing)
- Vehicle washing
Potential users of reclaimed water should contact their local public works department to see if the local Publicly Owned Treatment Works in their area has been approved to distribute reclaimed water.
Wastewater treatment plants, industrial and business managers should contact DWR for site specific guidance on the regulatory aspects of reclaimed water infrastructure.
Water Efficiency Manual for Commercial, Industrial, and Institutional Users, Reclaimed Water Section
UNC Chapel Hill - Rainwater Cistern Use
N.C. Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores Cistern Fact Sheet
N.C. Legislative Building - Stormwater Collection Project