During a recent conversation, someone told me that of all the days of the year, Valentine’s Day was the most popular day for sewer and wastewater treatment tours. I was skeptical at first, but a simple Google search confirms the statement — at least in New York. London and Paris sewer tours are also incredibly popular. I’d much prefer the sweet scent of a bouquet of roses over city sewers, but hey, to each his own!

This odd bit of trivia came about during a discussion on water reuse — specifically wastewater reuse systems. Communities across the country are incorporating water reuse into their water management strategies as a proven method for ensuring a safe, reliable, locally controlled water supply. Per the Water Reuse Association, by 2027, the volume of recycled water produced in the United States is projected to increase 37% from 4.8 billion gallons per day to 6.6 billion gallons per day, according to a survey by Bluefield Research.

One of the primary drivers behind the adoption of wastewater recovery systems is the pressing issue of water scarcity. With a growing global population and increasing demands on water resources, traditional water sources are under strain. Wastewater recovery systems provide a sustainable solution by treating and repurposing wastewater for non-potable uses, such as irrigation (as pictured in our cover photo this month), industrial processes and cooling systems. This reduces the dependence on freshwater sources, helping to alleviate the impact of water scarcity.

There are also economic benefits to consider for both public and private entities. Municipalities can save on water treatment and distribution costs, while industries can achieve cost savings through reduced water consumption and wastewater treatment expenses. Additionally, the creation of a market for recycled water stimulates innovation and the development of new technologies, fostering economic growth in the water sector.

Additionally, wastewater reuse systems offer significant benefits in the face of aging water and wastewater infrastructure. Aging water infrastructure often faces increased stress due to growing populations, urbanization and changing climate conditions. By treating and reusing wastewater, these systems reduce the demand on traditional water supplies, extending the lifespan of existing infrastructure and minimizing the need for costly expansions or replacements.

I had the chance to sit down with some fascinating people on the forefront of the growing water reuse trend to discuss the overall state of the market, challenges to adoption, success stories and considerations for plumbing engineers. Don’t miss our cover feature on water reuse systems here.

Whether you’re spending the day with a loved one on a romantic dinner date or a wastewater treatment tour — or even spending it alone with a self-care day, I wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day!