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Making better use of the water we have

The importance of using water wisely

With the challenges of climate change, it's essential that we use water smarter. As our planet has limited drinking water, we all need to contribute to ensuring there's enough for everyone.This requires a hard look at our water flows and the use of recirculation, reuse, and purification methods. In this article, we'll explore different types of water and their uses, highlighting concepts related to smart water use.

Different types of water for different purposes

There are different types of water with different uses, and it is essential to understand the differences between them to make better use of water. For instance, drinking water is essential for human consumption, and we need to ensure that it is clean and safe for everyone. However, we also need to find innovative solutions to replace drinking water for those applications that can use other water qualities, thereby contributing to the UN's global sustainability goals of clean water and sanitation for all.

Drinking water

To contribute to the UN's global sustainability goals of clean water and sanitation for all, we need to find innovative solutions to replace drinking water for those applications that can use other water qualities. Several of the seventeen sustainability goals are dependent on water to be fulfilled and even if we humans have different conditions, we all need to help each other. Drinking water that comes out of the tap in our homes and workplaces is so clean that it is classified as food. In some industries, it is necessary to use water that is even cleaner than that in the processes, but there are also instances where a lower degree of purification than the standard could be used just as well without the result being affected.

We have different opportunities to use different types of water, but there are also different purposes for the water we use. What exactly do you use drinking water for in your business, and could you use other water instead? To create better conditions for using different types of water for different things, we need help to make it possible to get access to water that is purified to the level we need, and not use drinking water only because it is what we are used to do.

person filling their bottle with tap water

Technical water

The term "technical water" has been used in different ways by different parties, which can give a variation in how we interpret it. This is precisely why it is important that we raise the issue and clarify what we mean when we write and talk about technical water. The concept itself has no legal basis. It can be recycled water originating from drinking water, wastewater, storm water, but we choose look at technical water as recycled water that does not meet drinking water quality. For example, it could be process water from an industry, where there may be opportunities to both recirculate, reuse and recycle water from their own processes.

Fertilizer as part of the cycle

The agriculture sector needs to transition to regenerative methods that prioritize healthy soil to reduce its climate impact. Using manure-based fertilizers, including dried manure from biogas production, instead of artificial fertilizers can help countries become more self-sufficient and reduce the need to import it. Circular thinking around water use and residual products from sewage treatment plants is necessary to achieve this goal. Agriculture plays a significant role in circular water, where all flows contribute to each other.

man on rooftop watering plats

Water sources, important even on a small scale

As municipalities grow, the need for water increases. To meet the increased need, innovative solutions are tried. An example is the Swedish, Gästrike water, which has chosen to offer their clients pure and raw water. They divide water into food grade and non-food grade water to achieve a sustainable water supply. Analyzing, who and what needs food-grade water or not, is a prerequisite for coping with the increased need for water going forward. We need to value every drop of water and be aware of the water sources we can use.

Purified wastewater

There is a mechanical, biological and chemical treatment process for the outgoing wastewater from municipal sewage treatment plants. When the water is purified and free of phosphorus and fine particles, it could be used for much more than being released into rivers, lakes and seas, which usually happens today. The purified wastewater can, for example, be used for irrigation of agriculture, as process water at the own wastewater treatment plant or for municipal irrigation.

waste water

Sustainable water use

Today, the water sector is facing the same journey of change that the energy industry did a number of years ago when a transition from large-scale to small-scale energy and electricity production began. In parts of the world where water has been both cheap and available for a long time it is only recently we realize that we need to get into the habit of justifying every drop of water we use, and choose the right degree of purification for each purpose. Every drop counts and together we contribute to sustainable water use.

people walking and cars driving in a city during sunrise

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Reijo Kuivamäki - Head of Business Unit, Water Finland

Reijo Kuivamäki

Head of Business Unit, Water Finland

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