Economics of wastewater reuse

Economics of waste water reuse

As India experiences rapid industrialization and urbanization, the demand for water is going up significantly. While agriculture constitutes ~75% of the water consumption in our country, the rest is used up by industries and domestic consumption. Going further, the amount of water required to power industries is only set to increase, especially with growth in the power sector.

How does one meet this growing demand for water by industries? The answer lies in reusing today’s waste to fulfill tomorrow’s needs. Most industries need non-potable water for their day-to-day functioning. In such cases, wastewater reuse provides for a sensible option. It reduces freshwater demand, thus helping the cause of water conservation.

Uses of treated wastewater

Wastewater or sewage can be treated and reused safely for multiple non-potable industrial, commercial and residential applications. Cooling water is the major requirement for power plants and many other heavy industries.

Other applications include boiler, process, washing, landscaping and domestic applications such as flushing. The water quality required for these applications can be safely met through reuse of wastewater.

Appropriate post-treatment can ensure that treated wastewater meet the most stringent of quality standards, such as those required for Indirect Potable Reuse applications. In India treated wastewater (Municipal sewage in this case) is being used in Chennai for the refining industry and in Delhi for power plants.

Wastewater reuse is a cost-saver

At present, most industrial or commercial users buy water from State Industrial Development Corporations or Water Authorities at industrial / commercial tariff or depend on tanker water. Housing complexes buy their water at domestic water tariffs from municipalities, besides using groundwater.

Industrial water tariffs are quite high compared to domestic tariffs as they are required to cross-subsidize drinking water costs. A case in point being Chennai, where industrial water tariff is around Rs. 60/kilolitre (KL) whereas the domestic water tariff is nearly Rs. 4/KL.

Tanker water costs are different across the country. In the large cities, these costs range anywhere between Rs 50/KL to upwards of Rs90/KL in the dry season.

Treated wastewater can offer a viable option to industries as water for most applications can be made available at less than Rs. 20 / KL. It can also prove to be a more reliable option if long-term offtake agreements could be signed with the Municipalities.

Maximizing Wastewater Reuse

Existing water resources are not equipped to handle the demands of our growing population. Wastewater reuse is a viable and sustainable option, for industry as well as commercial and residential complexes. GE offers solutions to treat various kinds of wastewater ranging from domestic to industrial. GE is the leader in global leader in wastewater reuse using membrane technology. GE’s portfolio of equipment and chemicals can address the toughest of wastewaters and helps Customers achieve their sustainability goals.