Water reclamation, or water “recycling,” is doubtlessly the keystone of critical water conservation efforts. In essence, water reclamation is ensuring water that is “spent” – watering crops, alleviating thirst, and fulfilling hygienic needs – can be returned to a state where it can be used again. This typically involves sanitation processes of some kind, involving a number of chemical and filtering treatments of reclaimed water.
Strictly speaking, all water is “recycled.” Our Earth’s water cycle has been progressing for millions of years, reclaiming water through a steady process of evaporation and precipitation throughout time. However, the human element must be accounted for nowadays. Water is stored, used, and expended on an unprecedented scale simply to support everyday human life and industry. This, along with various environmental factors, has lead to a water crisis, a critical and widespread shortage of water in a number of locations and communities. Nearly one million people die every year due to a lack of access to clean water, whether from dehydration or sanitary deficiencies.
To alleviate this, water reclamation efforts are made, essentially making use of the same water more than once before it is taken back into the planet’s natural water cycle.
The water crisis highlights the need for even greater, more advanced water reclamation efforts. Without clean water, human communities all over the world, and even in the United States, face a severe reduction in their quality of life. This does not just apply to arid and dry regions –
a number of developed cities, residential districts, and otherwise contaminated areas must also make municipal efforts to reclaim and conserve their water. These efforts become all the more necessary as human populations concentrate in urban and coastal areas, where fresh water is more scarce.
Water is essential to human life, a basic and irreplaceable requirement, and there are those who take it for granted. Water is wasted in unthinkable quantities every day, with forty-five trillion gallons of water being wasted every year on a global scale. There are also a number of corporate efforts to drain and steal vast quantities of water from vulnerable communities in order to turn a profit, contributing further to the global water crisis.
Even putting aside the impact on human communities, water plays a critical role in the earth’s natural environment. Rivers and ponds are obvious areas of concern for water being used up, with their irreplaceable biomes supporting vast quantities of aquatic life like fish, frogs, and certain birds. Forests, too, require steady supplies of water, usually delivered via rainfall or natural irrigation. The biodiversity of a single forest, let alone such wonders as the Amazon Rainforest, cannot be ignored. Plants and animals alike require steady access to water which is rapidly being used by human beings, oftentimes too quickly to be replaced. All life on this planet depends on water in some fashion or another. There is enough for everyone, but it must be managed properly, and treated as a right for all living things to have access to.
Put simply, water is precious. Access to drinking water is only one small piece of the aquatic puzzle – the environment, agriculture, sanitation, and a massive portion of world industry depends on access to usable water. Reclaiming it is, for the time being, the most realistic way to combat the water crisis on a global scale. Water reclamation promotes sustainability of humankind’s most essential resource, bar none.