Healthy debates about using reclaimed water have been going on for many years.  Water reclamation basically means using treated wastewater (that is, our treated sewage) for beneficial purposes, instead of, or prior to, discharging it to a water body.

While most places call this approach water reclamation, in California it is called “recycling.”  The term “reclamation” is preferable because “recycling” is a misnomer.  During rainy periods, for example, not all the reclaimed water necessary for irrigation during dry times is needed, and may have to be discharged to a water body; so it is not recycled.  (A friend of mine, Dan Okun, one of the world’s foremost engineers, now deceased, referred to use of the term “recycling” for water reclamation as “mangling the language.”)  Words matter, and in this era of branding, rebranding, and public relations, it is important to keep words straight.  Sorry, California.


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