Just (re-)add water: How circular systems can enhance urban water cycles

By Melanie Holmer

Communities are increasingly turning to water reuse as a tool to bolster water supply reliability in the face of numerous uncertainties. Droughts result in curtailments of surface water allocations that serve as drinking water lifelines to many cities. Just look at this year’s “day zero” warnings from Cape Town, or when California’s governor made a 2015 executive order requiring a 25 percent water use reduction by cities and towns.

Communities that rely on groundwater may find their aquifers in a state of overdraft without adequate management or replenishment. In a world filled with uncertainty, many agencies are looking at water in every part of the urban water cycle as a resource that can be put to better use before discarding it.