In drought-prone regions, recycling is an integral part of water security. Orange County, California, US, recently announced that 100 percent of the reclaimable water from its sanitation district is now being recycled and used to recharge its groundwater basin. This has never been done anywhere else, ever. The county’s Ground Water Replenishment System (GWRS), operational and expanding since 2008, is the largest indirect potable water reuse facility in the world. It uses a three-step process – incorporating microfiltration, reverse osmosis, and ultraviolet light. Water is pumped to recharge basins, where it percolates into a groundwater basin that provides drinking water to 2.5 million people. Mike Markus, general manager of Orange County Water District attributes their success to two factors: a deep and long-standing partnership with Orange County Sanitation District and a very active public outreach component early in the project. The water coming from their recycling facility is “cleaner than the water in the ground.”

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