Reclaimed, Reused, Recycled Water…What?

Maybe you’ve heard of at least one of the water types mentioned in the title?  Recycled water… Reclaimed water… Or reuse water.  Are you wondering “What’s the difference between these types ofreuse station waters?  Is there any difference?  And what does that even mean?”

Great news!  I’m going to answer those burning questions now!

Truth be told, they are all really the same thing.  It’s just different ways to call the water from the wastewater treatment plant after it’s been cleaned up.  Normal procedure is that the City cleans up the wastewater (aka sewer water) and then releases it into Brushy Creek so that it can flow downstream, keep the aquatic life alive that is living in the creek, and also be withdrawn by other water users downstream.  (The state has regulations on what “clean” actually means, so it won’t make anyone sick or cause pollution.)

Instead of releasing all the cleaned wastewater into the creek, the City has made the recycled water available in select areas of town for landscape irrigation, at a lower cost than the treated drinking water that is traditionally used to water landscapes.  Some City parks, neighborhoods, and businesses have been using this recycled water for irrigation for a couple of years now!  This is a really good thing, because it means less of our valuable drinking water is being poured on the ground to water the landscape.  This helps with the City’s conservation efforts, by increasing the amount of potable (drinking) water that we have available.reuse tank

The recycled water is only available in certain areas of town (on the east side of I-35), close to where the recycled water line is in the ground.  By the way, the City’s wastewater treatment plant is on the south side of Hwy 79, nearly across the street from the Dell Diamond.  So, the recycled water line is coming out of the plant, under Hwy 79, and travels north through Old Settlers Park up toward University Boulevard.  You can see the large recycled water elevated storage tank off at University Boulevard and Sandy Brook Drive, close to the Texas State University campus.  It has a purple-ish stripe along the top of the tank.  The purple color means it’s not drinking water.

The City also has a new re-use/cycled water fill station at Old Settlers Park, just behind the Dell Diamond.  That’s what you see in the top picture.  This water is available FREE of charge to customers for commercial irrigation, development, or construction use only.  The contractor simply has to have a vehicle to put the water in (like a tank truck) and have the equipment to open the purple fire hydrant and hook up their truck to take the water.

The City envisions that developers and construction crews, or even landscapers, will use this water during new construction to keep the dust down, or water new landscaping, or whatever other use that they would normally use treated drinking water for.  Again, that’s good for our city and for conservation, in that expensive, clean, potable water that isn’t being used for drinking or health or safety purposes (cooking, cleaning), isn’t being wasted.  It essentially extends our drinking water supply, which is a huge necessity in times of drought and with our continued population growth.