Uses of Recycled Water in Horticulture

4 April 2017

There are numerous reasons of recycling, including cost saving, extended landfill span, resource conservation, energy conservation, economic development, pollution prevention and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. In recent years environmental benefits of recycling have become a major component of waste management programme. What is recycled water? Water recycling is a generic term for water reclamation and reuse, where the resulting water is referred to as recycled water. This term will be used throughout this document, but you might also  find a number of other terms used in the water industry.

These include: • Water reclamation • Water recycling • Water reuse • Wastewater • Sewage effluent • Reclaimed water • Grey water Water recycling can include: • Recycling of wastewater from previous uses. This generally means the reclamation of water from domestic sewage effluent or municipal wastewater. These waters may be recycled from bathroom and laundry effluents (grey water), from the entire domestic sewage stream (black  water) or from municipal wastewater Recycling of water from agricultural and industry wastewater.

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Recycled water can be either or both of the above waters. Stormwater, greywater, rainwater and treated effluent are all alternative water supplies that, when treated as required, are suitable for a range of purposes. This can include irrigating grazing land and crops, in horticulture, industrial processing, in residential dual pipe schemes, and to keep our public and recreational spaces green. On this website, “recycled water” generally refers to fully treated effluent from sewage treatment plants. Recycled water is a valuable resource.

It contributes to conservation of drinking quality water, improves the reliability of our water supplies, frees up water for the environment or growth, and reduces the amount of treated effluent discharged into our bays and oceans. What can recycled water be used for? Recycled water can be used for just about anything, as long as it is treated to a level to make it fit for the intended purpose, from a health and environmental perspective (Figure 3) . However, the cost of treatment may make reclamation uneconomical for some uses.

Australia now has more than 580 different recycled water schemes operating, which use approximately 167 GL/year. The bulk of these schemes involve: • Urban and municipal environments • Households, golf courses and recreational parks. • Industry • Washing and cooling in power stations and mills. • Agriculture • Horticulture, forestry, pasture, flowers, viticulture and sugar cane. Other possible uses include: • Fire fighting • Groundwater recharge • Municipal landscapes • ‘Dual pipe’ urban uses • Environmental flows and wetlands

It is now also possible for advanced treatment technology to produce safe drinking (potable) water. In several countries wastewater is recycled for potable reuse via groundwater injection (e. g. Factory 21, Orange County, California, USA) or where it is added directly to surface  reservoirs (e. g. NeWater, Singapore). Such planned indirect or direct potable reuse is not currently practiced in Australia, although it is being considered by some councils with severe water shortages. Recycled water is already being used in a wide range of applications, including the irrigation of agriculture, parklands and golf courses.

What is horticulture? Horticulture is the art, industry and science of plant cultivation. Horticulturists work and conduct research in the disciplines of plant propagation and cultivation, crop production, plant breeding and genetic engineering, plant biochemistry, and plant physiology. The work particularly involves fruits, berries, nuts, vegetables, flowers, trees, shrubs, and turf. Horticulturists work to improve crop yield, quality, nutritional value, and resistance to insects, diseases, and environmental stresses. Etymology

The word horticulture is a 17th century English adaptation of the Latin: hortus (garden) + cultura (culture)), it is the culture or growing of garden plants. Horticulture as classically defined is the subdivision of agriculture dealing in gardening: in contrast to agronomy which deals with field crops and the production of grains and forage, and forestry which deals with forest trees and products related to them. How is recycled water defined? Recycled water is defined as water that has been treated to a ‘fit for purpose’ standard for a specific application.

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