It may seem surprising, but wastewater effluent has long been a proven, safe and reliable source of water around the world. How does it work? Wastewater treatment plants clean the wastewater effluent we all create and return it to a local waterway. There it restores flows to rivers and streams or recharges groundwater. Eventually it is withdrawn by downstream communities, which treat it to drinking water standards for use by citizens. It can also receive less treatment to be reused for non-drinking water purposes or withdrawn from the rivers and streams and used for agricultural and industrial users. This is what has happened throughout human history, in one way or another: water has been continually recycled. It’s just a fact of life. Most municipalities drink water that is downstream of another municipalities effluent discharge. What’s important these days is not where our water came from but what its quality is when we drink it.
On this interactive map you will learn about some of the oldest and best-known projects that recycle water to supplement local drinking water supplies along with some of the newer projects occurring as drought and supply shortages create the need to look to some non-conventional sources of supply. Scroll over the dots and see a few examples of the great many sites where this occurs. Click on the dots to see descriptions.