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Potable water, also known as drinking or tap water, is fully treated water that is safe to drink and suitable for human consumption. An estimated 2 billion people around the world do not have access to potable water, indicating a serious issue that needs to be addressed.
Although the primary use for potable water is inevitably drinking, it has a wide range of applications that demonstrates its necessity. Clean water provides nourishment, reduces sickness and disease, promotes sanitation, and is essential for agriculture and food production.
If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water. — Loren Eiseley
Non-potable reclaimed water, also called reuse or gray water, is partially treated water that can be used for non-contact process water, toilets, irrigation, and fire protection. Rainwater is collected in tanks as well as stormwater drains and filtered to remove dirt along with suspended solids. To reduce the growth of bacteria and algae in the water, chlorine may be added.
Despite filtration and cleansing, non-potable water has not been treated for bacteria, viruses, or chemicals that have been introduced by industry, agriculture, human waste, or animal waste. Consuming this type of water can result in extreme sickness and even death which makes it hazardous to drink or use for cooking, bathing, or other household activities.
Non-potable water is not fit for human consumption without prior treatment but may be used for a variety of other purposes. It can be used for industrial processes such as cooling systems, manufacturing, and cleaning. Non-potable water also finds practical applications in our daily lives, including gardening, plumbing (such as flushing toilets), and cleaning outdoor spaces.
It is wise to consider a water source to be non-potable and refrain from drinking, hand-washing, cooking, or taking a shower in it unless you are certain of its potability. In certain scenarios, potable water can be reclaimed and repurposed as non-potable water. For instance, water used during showers or handwashing can be captured and utilized in other designated areas. Exploring methods to capture and reuse water offers an excellent opportunity to reduce waste within a facility and contribute to environmental conservation.