Water reuse ‘vital for sustainability’

Water reuse in industry should be a vital part of achieving more sustainable water management in the UK, according to a new report from a leading professional body.

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) document said that increased water reuse by businesses would have a range of benefits, including improved environmental water quality and greater availability for domestic consumers.

The report argued that businesses already have incentives to reduce their water use, as industry water use is metered and abstraction limits have become increasingly stringent.

However, Harriet Greene, a policy researcher at CIWEM and author of the report said there is also a growing need to find alternative supplies to meet demand.

In her report, she said: “There are clear benefits for a business implementing water reuse – a less drought-sensitive water supply, a greener corporate image, financial savings from the recovery of resources and reduced need for abstraction or mains-supplied water.

“Society, however, also benefits from greater environmental flows for freshwater wildlife and water-based recreation, improved environmental water quality and the greater availability of potable water for domestic consumers.”

CIWEM said that if potential sustainability concerns, such as the energy usage required to treat and distribute the water, are resolved, water reuse can be sustainable.

The report also argued that reuse should be part of a wider approach that incorporated water demand management.

The organisation highlighted a number of issues that it believes are critical to achieving sustainable water reuse, including the need to develop fair pricing for all water resources and the need for a coherent Government policy on water reuse.

It also called for improved public awareness about water reuse and more research and development into low-carbon, economic water reuse solutions.

Kate Martin

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