Submitted by the Fillmore SWCD in celebration of our 75th Anniversary
The United Nations (UN) has designated the 22nd of March each year as World Water Day. The 2017 theme is “Why Waste Water?” which is about reducing and reusing wastewater.
All of us have learned about the water cycle, so we know that water is recycled over and over again. All the water that was on Earth at its beginning is all the water that ever was or ever will be. Water that gets used and polluted by such things as chemicals, heat, bacteria or sediment needs to be cleaned up to be reused again. As a society, we have decided to strive to either prevent water pollution in the first place (the best option) or to clean it up before it makes its way back into the public domain. Ideally, the water that falls on our property or enters our home or business would leave our property, home or business as clean as when it arrived. Although not always possible, that is the ultimate goal. Reducing and reusing wastewater goes a long way toward achieving that goal, and Minnesota is making headway in this effort.
According to information from the World Water Day website, on a global scale, over 80% of the wastewater generated by society flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused. Over 1.8 billion people use a source of drinking water contaminated with feces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. Unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene cause around 842,000 deaths each year, and 663 million people still lack improved drinking water sources.
Minnesota is recognizing that water reuse will be an increasingly important part of managing our water resources as demands on our water supplies continue to grow due to population increases, urbanization, climate change, and changes in water use. Those interested in reuse often run into regulatory roadblocks, technical challenges, or lacking and inconsistent regulations and standard practices. An interagency effort to develop recommendations for best practices and policies for water reuse in Minnesota is underway. Recommendations will include both regulatory and non-regulatory approaches to successful implementation of water reuse. Recommendations will be published in early summer of 2017. Interagency efforts include two components to ensure that water reuse can be safely and sustainably implemented in Minnesota. These are research – to evaluate current regulations, practices, and barriers, and to quantify and determine acceptable health risks associated with water reuse applications—and stakeholder engagement – to share perspectives on opportunities and barriers to reuse, and provide guidance and feedback on policy and best practice recommendations. Go to http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/water/dwp_cwl/reuse/index.html for more information about how Minnesota’s Clean Water Funds are being used in this effort.