Reuse more waste water, to save drinking water

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The exceptional drought of the summer of 2022 highlighted the vulnerability of the water supply: the reuse of contaminated water is emerging as a future option and is being developed in France, lagging behind other countries. “Today in France, less than 1% of water comes from wastewater reuse, while this is common in Italy (8%) and Spain (14%). Awareness needs to be raised about the need for reuse , to preserve water resources”, argues Frédéric Salin, responsible for Veolia’s water in the Aude department. The “reut”, according to the jargon of water experts, is common in countries where water is scarce, and which have no other choice, such as Israel, Singapore or Namibia. In the Narbonne treatment plant, as in five others in France, the operator Veolia ordered in 2021 a “Réut Box”, an infrastructure contained in a container that provides an additional stage in the treatment of sewage water.Rather than dumping it in rivers or the sea, this technology, with a treatment capacity of up to 75 m3/h, makes the water clean enough to be used in agricultural irrigation, urban cleaning, watering green spaces, stadiums or golf courses. Industrialize “We must industrialize the ut’. We will install this device whenever possible. By the end of 2023, we expect to launch a hundred ‘Réut boxes’, a pioneering approach that will save 3 million m3 of drinking water, equivalent to the annual consumption of a city of 180,000 inhabitants”. calculates François Reboul Salze, head of innovation at Veolia. Near Narbonne, the vineyard is irrigated thanks to the reuse of dirty water from another treatment plant. “It is the future, we have a crucial need to save drinking water and help winegrowers. We are now thinking about a distribution network for agricultural irrigation, but it is expensive,” laments Michel Jammes, vice president of the Grand Narbonne Intercommunity, in charge of water The 7 km of pipe that irrigates 80 hectares of vineyards cost around 750,000 euros. This system, he notes, allows winegrowers to free themselves from pumping and irrigation restrictions. To allege the cause of the reuse of waste water, François Reboul Salze highlights that “many of the tomatoes in Spain that we consume have been irrigated thanks to the ‘réut’ (reused water, in the jargon of water treatment ). water)”. If France was slow to activate this technology, believes Sophie Besnault, an expert in water treatment at the INRAE ​​(the national research institute for agriculture, food and the environment), it is because “we didn’t necessarily need it, when you don’t lack water… And due to regulatory limitations, the specification is complex, it’s expensive”. Water emergency “It’s a future solution to save drinking water, but it won’t solve all our problems, points out Sophie Besnault. You have to be careful, it’s water that is no longer returned to nature, you have to. to study the possible impact on the water course”. It is likely that the intensity and frequency of drought episodes will increase even more in the Mediterranean, predicts the Intergovernmental Climate Group (IPCC). For Tatiana Vallaeys, an expert from the ‘Rhône-Mediterranean Basin Agency, “the issue of water is more urgent than that of energy”. flow of the Rhone in the year 2100, underline. […] How will nuclear power plants be cooled? The warning signal has sounded.” “We are already faced with conflicts over the use of water, when we see that water is transported by truck, we have a problem, and we are only at the beginning of the problems,” assures the scientist. In recent years, the consumption of raw water has been popularized by Thomas Pesquet and the astronauts of the international space station, “where 100% of the waste water is recycled”, notes the University professor from Montpellier.
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