Understanding Water Recycling Terminology

Categories: Cleaning Best Practices, Innovations, Trends & Technology, Sustainability & ESG

By Doug Berjer | December 22, 2011 << Back to Articles Understanding Water Recycling Terminology

As water concerns mount around the globe, water recycling and reclamation practices are expected to become much more common in future years. These practices are expected to greatly impact how facilities are operated and cleaned.

Because of this, building and cleaning professionals are wise to know more about water recycling, starting with its terminology.

The following definitions provide a good start:

  • Water recycling: This is the reusing of treated wastewater for safe and beneficial purposes such as agricultural and landscape irrigation, toilet flushing, and industrial applications.
  • Water reuse and reclamation: These terms are generally synonymous with water recycling, referring to treated water that can be reused safely for other purposes.
  • Gray water: Also spelled “grey,” this is untreated wastewater derived from residential, commercial, and industrial facilities, typically used for landscape irrigation. It is estimated that up to 50 percent of a facility’s water needs can be met using gray water.
  • Planned water recycling: These projects are developed with the goal of reusing or recycling water. Examples include gathering rainwater for irrigation or employing equipment, such as carpet extractors, engineered to recycle water during operation.
  • Unplanned water recycling: A common example of unplanned water recycling occurs when cities draw their water supplies from rivers that receive wastewater discharges upstream from other cities.
  • Potable: Water approved for drinking purposes.
  • Nonpotable: Refers to water such as gray water that is not acceptable for drinking but may be safe for plant irrigation and other purposes.

The goal of water recycling is to find safe, alternative uses for water so that we use it most responsibly.

Responsible water use can have other benefits as well. For instance, huge amounts of energy are required to collect, deliver, treat, and dispose of water. Recycling water helps reduce this demand along with the related energy costs.

About the Author.

Doug Berjer is product manager for CFR Corp., a manufacturer of recycling carpet extractors. For more information about CFR, visit