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Recycled, reclaimed, non-potable, effluent water sources and drip irrigation

Reclaimed water is a smart alternative water supply source for areas that have a limited groundwater supply and an increasing population. By using recycled water for non-potable (non-drinkable) uses such as irrigation, precious drinking water supplies can be conserved.

Reclaimed water is treated waste water that has undergone an additional filtration and a disinfection process to make the water safe for non-potable uses.When using reclaimed water, often referred to as “recycled water or effluent water”, for drip irrigation there are a few extra considerations you should take.

First, know the plants on your site and understand their responses to irrigation with reclaimed water. You may need to alter your water management strategies based on your soil, drainage and water characteristics.

Choose your drip irrigation equipment wisely. Some manufactures make product specifically for reclaimed water applications. This may only be a difference in the color of the product or a complete redesign to handle a more severe application; purple is used to designate reclaimed water. It is recommended that at least a 150 mesh secondary filter is used, along with self-flushing, pressure compensated emitters and a manual flush valve at the end of the line. Self flushing, also called self cleaning, emitters shoot a stream of water across the control element, usually from 0-5 PSI at start up and shut down, to clean any sediment or contaminates that may have accumulated. It is also a good idea to install a flush end cap or manual valve at the end of the line to flush the system every 6 months or so.

In most areas there are laws that dictate how a recycled water system should be identified, check with your local service area for complete outlines and details.As landscape professionals it is our responsibility to educate and promote the smart use of water for irrigation. Using recycled water is a great tool, but only a part of the long range solution.

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