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Current IssueDecember 20, 2014
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Ask The Expert: Conventional vs. recycled water treatment
12/01/2000 
 
Question: What is the main different between a conventional water treatment plant and a water recycling plant?

Raul Borrero -- Puerto Rico 

Answer: Regarding conventional water treatment and water recycling, your question is a good one, however, one that's difficult to answer.

Basically, conventional treatment is the process of taking surface water from source such as a lake, river, ocean or ground water from a well, and treating it, primarily for potable purposes.

Recycling involves taking water that has been used for any purpose (industrial rinsing, cooling towers, human uses, etc.), treating it and reusing.

It's typically assumed that wastewater is harder to treat than raw water, because it contains more contaminants; however, this is not necessarily true. Seawater contains 30-50,000 mg/L of dissolved salt, and, as such, is very expensive to treat.

Virtually all municipalities use the available raw water source to produce potable water, but many non-potable applications, including both commercial and industrial, recycle some of their water, particularly in areas of the world where water of any kind is scarce.

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