What is reclaimed water? (RCW)

Monday, October 11, 2021
If you’re a contractor who installs and maintains sprinkler systems, you may have heard about using reclaimed water to irrigate homeowners’ lawns.
Reclaimed Water

In Arizona, California, Florida, North Carolina and Texas, homeowners have been using reclaimed water in their sprinkler systems for decades. So far, using recycled water in sprinkler systems has worked.

A residential recycled water line is separate from the household water line. Matter of fact, builders use purple water lines to distinguish between recycled water and household water.

If you subcontract with homebuilders, you may have hooked up recycled water using these purple pipes.

What is Reclaimed Water?
Reclaimed water goes by different names:
  • Recycled water
  • Water recycling
  • Effluent water

Wastewater, either from residential, commercial or industrial entities, travels to a wastewater treatment plant where it goes through a thorough sanitation process including:
  • Solid removal
  • Organic matter reduction
  • And disinfectant sterilization.
While it may be safe to use recycled water for your customers’ lawn and gardens, it’s not safe to drink.

Matter of fact, municipalities that encourage water recycling for lawns and landscapes discourage effluent water use on any fruit or vegetable gardens because these plants are edible.

The Challenges of Using Reclaimed Water
Over the past 40 years, wastewater treatment plants have perfected the cleanliness of recycled water.

However, it doesn’t mean that turf and soil scientists agree that it’s a win-win solution.

The salinity content used to disinfect reclaimed water also changes the health of soil and plants. The following salts can be found in recycled water:
  1. Calcium
  2. Potassium magnesium
  3. Sulfate
  4. Sodium chloride, which homeowners use to soften their household water supply.
Too much of the above salts can kill plants and affect the soil’s ability to percolate water down deep into the ground.

Five Benefits of Using Recycled Water in Sprinkler Systems
Recycled water, used as part of a lawn sprinkler system, benefits your customers. It also sustains the local water supply.

Here are five benefits to hooking up effluent water to residential sprinkler systems:

1.  Recycled water contains nitrogen and phosphorous—two nutrients turfgrass and landscape plants need. Homeowners may be able to cut down on the amount of fertilizer that they put on their lawns and in their gardens when they use effluent water to irrigate their properties.

Again, you need to check with your local water provider regarding the amount of nutrients that are available in reclaimed water. Lawns and landscapes won’t thrive or survive if they get too much nitrogen and phosphorous.

2.  Reclaimed water replaces potable (drinking) water—, which means communities stop using drinking water to water their lawns and flowerbeds.

According to a University of Florida blog, reclaimed water replaced more than 127 billion gallons of drinking water in 2009. It also added 79 billion gallons of water back into available groundwater suppliers during that same year.

3.  Recycled water extends freshwater supplies because it refills groundwater aquifers.

4.  Effluent water used in residential sprinkler systems sustains freshwater availability—especially in states where drought is probable, and more people are moving to these warmer parts of the U.S.—putting additional strain on a state’s water supply

        5.  Homeowners will see even more savings on their water bills when they use recycled water for their lawn and         landscapes.

How K-Rain Helps You Design and Install Recycled Water-Friendly Sprinkler System Parts

At K-Rain, we have sprinkler system parts dedicated specifically for recycled water hook-up. Our RCW product line provides versatility with a wide range of pop-up heights suited for many applications from small flowerbeds to residential and light commercial lawns and planted areas.  We also carry RCW Indexing Valves.

If you’d like to become a K-Rain irrigation installer, join our Premier Contractor Program today. If you have questions about K-Rain and its sprinkler system parts, call us at 800-735-7246 or fill out our contact form.

EPA.gov, “Water Reuse and Recycling: Community and Environmental Benefits.”