America's Environmental Report Card: Are We Making the by Harvey Blatt

By Harvey Blatt

An available review of an important environmental matters dealing with the U.S., with new and up to date fabric.

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27 Reusing Dirty Water Through the natural water cycle, the earth has recycled and reused water for billions of years. However, when used in discussions of water availability to consumers, recycling generally refers to projects that use technology to speed up natural processes. The number of such projects is increasing dramatically in the United States because of increasing pressure on freshwater resources. Recycled water can satisfy water demands for irrigating crops, cooling water in power plants, mixing concrete in construction work, watering a lawn, mopping a floor, or flushing a toilet.

Instead of being fed into streams after leaving the purification plant, the water may be injected underground to replenish depleted groundwater supplies that supply drinking water to millions of humans above ground. Underground injection adds another step, and perhaps an unnecessary one, to the decontamination process. A new half-billion-dollar purification plant in Orange County, California, processes 70 million gallons of sewage per day that is pumped underground but will eventually stream out of faucets in people’s homes.

The organization attributed this increase of 5 percent over 2004 to burgeoning coastal development and a year of heavy rainfall, which caused extra sewage runoff. Probably improved monitoring and additional aging of sewer pipes also contributed. 22 Sewers in Newark, New Jersey, which date back to 1852, are so old that they are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The EPA estimates that as much as $400 billion in extra spending is needed over the next decade to fix the nation’s sewer infrastructure.

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