2 August, 2021
We are fresh off the World Nature Conservation Day last week, discussing the need to use natural resources wisely. Water is one of the essential natural resources for human sustenance, which needs a special mention. Drinking water is something that we pay special attention to as water contamination happens in many ways. This, in turn, leads to many diseases, especially in the monsoon season. This is one of the reasons why many urban households in India have turned to water purification devices.
Having a constant supply of safe drinking water is important for every household, and the many water filters in the market ensure this. They can be easily connected to the water supply in the kitchen and ensure a continuous supply at all times. These devices come in many combinations, and the most popular in the market currently is the Reverse Osmosis (RO) water filters.
What is RO?
This is a water purification technology that removes a majority of the contaminants in the water that may cause life-threatening diseases. It demineralises (deionizes) the water by pushing it under pressure through a semi-permeable Reverse Osmosis Membrane. Osmosis is a natural phenomenon by which a weaker saline solution migrates towards a stronger saline solution. This is how the roots of a plant absorb water from the soil. This happens without any filter and pressure.
When you need to ensure that only water molecules get absorbed or pass through, you need to use a filter. This is done with the help of a semi-permeable membrane that ensures none of the dissolved salts, bacteria, organisms, etc., passes through to the other side. To accomplish this, some pressure needs to be applied to ensure desalination happens. Unfortunately, this process leaves behind 95-99% of the dissolved salts in the solution left behind, which comes out as wastewater.
This happens to be one of the biggest disadvantages of an RO based water purifier as only 25% of the water comes as purified while 75% comes out as wastewater. Hence, we need to find ways to ensure that this water can be reused in some ways so that the water doesn’t really go to waste.
Ways to reuse RO wastewater
To reuse the wastewater, we need to first collect it in a container like a bucket, tub, or, if possible, even a small tank. This water can be used for a few everyday purposes where the TDS (Total Dissolved Salts) level in the water will not affect in any way. You could get the wastewater tested once to check the TDS level and then reuse it many ways without any issues.
1. Watering your plants - A TDS level of up to 2100 PPM is permissible for watering plants. This is because plants grow by the natural osmosis and need a few of these dissolved salts to grow. However, higher TDS levels may not suit certain plants. Hence, you could try watering the plants for two weeks and watch to see if any plants show any bad effects and then discontinue using the water for such plants.
2. Cleaning purposes – We waste a lot of water cleaning, whether our house, vehicles, and surroundings. This water can be safely used to clean your vehicles, utensils, clothes, garages, terraces, balconies, and so on. This water can even be used for your floor mopping. For cars, permissible TDS levels are 1200 – 1500 PPM, and even if it is higher, you could easily dilute this by mixing the normal water. The same process can be applied while mopping in case you find high TDS levels in the wastewater. This is just so that the dissolved salts do not leave a stain on the floor. It can be safely used to wash utensils by collecting in a bucket of water without any issues.
This water can also be used to clean toilets and bathrooms or even to flush your toilets. There is a chance of the dissolved salts staining the toilet bowls, but not if you do your regular toilet cleaning, which anyway most households do. The pre-wash rinsing of your laundry can also be done using the RO wastewater safely. You could even use it in washing machines safely, provided the TDS levels are not high. Also, this water cannot be used for washing delicate clothes as the dissolved salts will affect them.
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