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Virginia Pushing For Regulations To Allow Public To Reclaim Used Water

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The Department of Environmental Quality is pushing for regulations that would allow customers to reclaim some used water—and conserve other water of higher quality.

Reclaimed water is what's flushed, dumped, pumped, or drained after it’s used. It's treated at a water treatment plant but not reissued as clean drinking water -- and is often discharged.

Although it can be chemically processed and used as potable water, the department would prefer it to be used for such purposes as car washing, industrialism, irrigation, swimming, and farming.

"We have labeling requirements for distribution systems of reclaimed water to distinguish it from other pipings or distribution systems," says Valerie Rourke, DEQ's water reclamation and reuse coordinator.

Even if proposed regulations to broaden water reclamation were approved, Rourke says the greatest challenge may be convincing the general public to embrace the concept -- although in other states, the cost is equal to or less than drinking water. And in areas with well water, it can provide alternatives when wells run dry.


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