As the world's population continues to grow, there will be an ever greater need for potable or purified water. Most people are completely unaware of just how big the problem of world water consumption is because they never think past turning on their sink or sprinkler system. Take into consideration the demands on the water supply by less obvious factors such as livestock and farming. There is an economy of scale: those massive agricultural irrigation systems that suck water out of rivers, lakes, streams and ponds consume hefty amounts of water that cannot then be used for any other purpose. Farms, cities, industry and the many other levels of human consumption place a great deal of pressure on Mother Nature. Globalization has actually increased the demand for water and has strained many regionally dry areas into even worse water deficits. For example, "industries and communities located in cold regions often face different challenges in treatment of wastewater from those of warmer regions." (Gao, Smith, & Sego) Unfortunately, the world has yet to create an economical or cost effective method for converting the vast amounts of ocean and sea water into useable drinking water.
That being said, the world's supply of fresh water that is salt free, pollution free or not in the form of ice has to be considered a finite material that is more in line with commodities such as oil or coal. When we run out of fresh water we will be hard pressed to get more. That realization brings to light the fact that we will have to recycle the water we use. "Production of drinking water and wastewater treatment are two essential steps of the water cycle." (Guillaume, Lorain, Azouni, & Aurelle) Recycled water can fill a large need if it is properly captured, cleaned and then appropriately reused. The first step is to capture the various sources of sullage. Gray water systems do just that -- capture water that to be reused.
We have a few viable options to purify and recondition water similar to Mother Nature. "Suspended and dissolved impurities present in naturally occurring water make it unsuitable for many purposes. Objectionable organic and inorganic materials are removed by such methods as screening and sedimentation to eliminate suspended materials; treatment with such compounds as activated carbon to remove tastes and odors; filtration; and chlorination or irradiation to kill infective microorganisms." (WA.Gov, 2005) Of course, Mother Nature has had a head start in regard to purifying water; she has been doing this for millions of years while man is relatively new at this. An excellent solution when it comes to reusing water is the process of Gray Water Systems.
Gray Water Systems are water recycling processes that capture already used water, gray water, and make that water available for future reuse. Consider the typical daily use of a residential water supply. The water is either pumped into a house from a community municipal water company or a public or private well system. Once the water is in the home, the consumer then washes their dishes by hand or in a dishwasher, the laundry and clothes are washed either by hand or in a washing machine, the family needs a bath now and then and everyone has to regularly flush their toilets after use. All of these processes occur normally without consideration of the water cycle. The concerns with these types of water usage limit the community and the world's supply of fresh potable water because the water is on a use-one-time and finished life cycle. To demonstrate this cycle, consider that once the washing machine finishes its final spin, the water the machine used for that wash cycle would simply drain diectly out of the home into the sewer system. "The water that flows down your showers, bathtubs and washing machines is known as gray water and has historically been destined for the sewer." (Greenlink) So gray water is that water that was just used and gray water systems are processes that recapture water prior to it going out into the sewer system with the intent of recycling. "To conserve diminishing water supplies and curb rising water costs, Brac Systems has created a self-contained, low-maintenance system that captures your gray water, filters it and reuses it for irrigation or your toilet evacuation system." (Greenlink) The reusable water…