The need for innovations in wastewater recovery

Go back to main page

The need for innovations in wastewater recovery

Posted on 4 January 2016 by Editorial team
Posted in FluksAqua Community, FluksAqua insights, Innovation, Wastewater Management, Water and wastewater community, Tagged rainwater, water plant,


New research released in advance of the global climate change talks in Paris last month says Canada is getting warmer twice as fast as elsewhere in the world.

Drought is the biggest threat from climate change. Last summer, western Canada experienced a long warm, dry spell resulting in wild fires and widespread evacuations. California experienced one of the worst droughts in its history in 2015; residents faced severe water-rationing as well as wild fires, evacuations, property damage and more.



What this means for wastewater managers is a need to manage water resources wisely and effectively. Aside from water reservoirs and aquifers, other sources of water include capture (rain and snow) and redirection of greywater (repurposing).

Droughts deplete reservoirs, and high demand for irrigation and industrial water use (for bottling or manufacture) threaten aquifers, the source of water underground that feeds streams and rivers.


Sometimes called rainwater harvesting, capturing water from rain or snow offers individuals and municipalities an opportunity to redirect water runoff away from sewers and into gardens and public spaces rather than ending up in rivers, lakes or oceans.

Collecting rainwater reduces the pressure on water storage systems, reduces dependence on fresh water for non-drinking purposes such as gardening or farming, and doesn’t require chemical treatment, thus reducing costs.

Many homeowners and farmers are already familiar with the rain barrel and rain gutter funneling of rainwater as a low-tech way to collect rainwater for gardens and fields.


Greywater is water that has been used for washing or bathing, and does not include water from toilets. Homeowners can capture greywater in buckets and reuse it to flush toilets or to water their gardens. Some people put buckets in their showers to catch the first wave of clean water, or use the water collected in dehumidifiers for other non-drinking purposes.

Guelph, Ontario is offering residents an incentive to install greywater reuse systems in their homes. The system redirects the greywater for non-potable use in toilets rather than being drained directly into the city sewer system from the tub or sink. When you think about the fact that flushing the toilet accounts for 30% of water use in the home, repurposing greywater makes economic and environmental sense.


One Ontario winery faced significant increases in its water bills, as the company needed to treat its greywater before discharge. When the company went looking for help on reducing its costs, the company connected with BLOOM, a non-profit organization focused on helping businesses implement sustainable water and resource management practices. After an 18-month trial, the winery permanently installed a water treatment system. The result is cleaner water and lower costs, even after the company factored in the installation expense of $170,000.


Reusing greywater and capturing rainwater are straightforward, if conventional, methods for conservation of non-potable sources of water. Another innovation recycles heat from wastewater. The recovery system, produced by International Wastewater Systems, takes the heat from used water and transfers it to new water. Currently in use in some British Columbia buildings, the system cuts heating costs significantly.

While wastewater recovery and treatment has focused on homeowners and small-scale businesses, the potential for greater conservation impacts will come from partnerships with the community, industry and municipalities. Greater awareness of the practical steps individuals can take is always helpful, but the momentum for change will come from the cost savings and long-term benefits businesses will accrue from water conservation and sustainability management.


FluksAqua is an online community dedicated to fostering open discussion on the issues and priorities of water and wastewater management professionals globally. Managing the only website dedicated to sharing information for the primary benefit of the urban water facilities user community, the members of FluksAqua represent organizations and communities who contribute key indicators to measure and compare the performance of networks globally.

Discuss this article on the forum and share your thoughts with other water industry professionals, like YOU!


About the author

At FluksAqua, we facilitate communications between industry professionals regarding new and innovative solutions. Our blogs feature experts, summary of academic articles and more.