Select Page

Environmental regulations often require industries to minimize water discharges and levels of pollutants such as phosphorus or chlorides. Many turn to water reuse to help them comply with these regulations.

Plans must consider local conditions and plant characteristics

Industrial companies are increasingly interested in reusing their water for multiple purposes. Several factors are driving this trend.

As industries face more stringent environmental regulations that require them to minimize water discharges and pollutants, many are turning to water reuse to comply with these regulations and avoid penalties.

Another factor is water scarcity. Many are looking for a reliable and consistent water supply “in-house,” so they do not need to rely on, or burden, local water supplies. Those with a long-term mindset also see a financial benefit in reusing wastewater rather than purchasing fresh water from the local municipality.

Industrial water reuse also helps companies achieve their corporate sustainability goals. By reducing their water footprint, companies demonstrate a commitment to environmental stewardship and corporate social responsibility.

Regardless of the motivation, water reuse is a complex task. To be successful, an industrial water reuse project requires careful planning, implementation, and ongoing management. Here are some essential elements for ensuring the success of an industrial water reuse project.

Conduct a Comprehensive Water Audit and Feasibility Study

Before undertaking an industrial water reuse project, it is essential to conduct a thorough water audit to understand usage patterns, identify opportunities for reduction, and assess the quality of wastewater for potential reuse. A detailed feasibility study must evaluate the technical, economic, and environmental aspects of water reuse, assessing the costs, benefits, and potential risks of the project.

It may be more feasible to treat water coming into a plant to a higher quality so it can be used more efficiently — for example, using it multiple times in a cooling tower — than it is to treat wastewater going out of a plant with the intent to reuse it. While treating incoming water typically involves higher volumes, the quality is generally higher, requiring less complex treatment systems that are easier to design and operate. It’s important to weigh these considerations during planning.

Before embarking on any water reuse project, it is crucial to understand local, regional, and national regulations governing water reuse. All necessary permits and approvals must be obtained to ensure the project adheres to environmental standards.

Define Project Goals

It’s crucial to establish clear project goals from the beginning. This includes determining the volume of water to be recycled, where it will be reused, quality standards, and target contaminants.

Starting with a smaller-scale wastewater reuse project before moving to full-scale implementation is often advisable. This allows for testing and refining of technology, operator training, and gathering valuable insights for broader deployment.

Set Up Water Quality Assessment, Monitoring, and Control

A key factor to consider is that the design of the wastewater treatment system must be based on multiple rounds of sampling that reveal raw water quality, accounting for minimum, average, maximum, and even extreme scenarios. Those figures can be used to develop a comprehensive ion and flow balance for the whole facility.

Once the project has been implemented, regular sampling and water quality testing are paramount to confirm the suitability of the treated wastewater for reuse in industrial processes. The importance of robust sampling, monitoring, and control systems to track water quality cannot be overstated. This allows for real-time adjustments and optimization of the water reuse system based on performance data, enhancing efficiency and ensuring the consistency and reliability of the recycled water.

Create a Risk Management Plan with Contingency Measures

A comprehensive risk management plan must be drawn up to address any issues related to water quality, supply disruption, wastewater storage, and regulatory changes that may arise. For example, if you are unable to treat the wastewater stream due to maintenance, there must be an alternative storage solution, such as a pond or storage tanks, for wastewater discharge. Having a backup plan can mitigate risks and ensure project resilience.

Fluence offers a range of industrial wastewater reuse technologies, including membrane aerated biofilm reactors (MABR) and anaerobic membrane bioreactors, as well as tertiary treatment solutions such as ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis, ozonation, dissolved air flotation, ultraviolet disinfection, and advanced oxidation.

Contact Fluence to discuss your company’s water reuse needs and to learn more about our industrial wastewater solutions.

About the Author: Jared Galligan, a licensed professional engineer with 17 years of experience in industrial and municipal water treatment, has designed, commissioned, and supported numerous systems across various industries, authored articles in trade magazines, developed minimal and zero liquid discharge treatment systems, designed water reuse systems, and held roles from applications and sales engineer to director of engineering at global water treatment equipment suppliers.

Connect with Fluence

Sign up for the latest news, trends and innovations in water, wastewater and reuse.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.