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Water Recovery Systems: Features and Benefits

1 May 2023

Water recovery solutions

As water resources become scarce and environmental concerns grow, more and more industries are turning to water recovery systems to conserve water and reduce their environmental impact. But with so many different water recovery systems available, it can be difficult to determine which one is right for your industry.

Depending on the application, Waterleau proposes a series of water recovery solutions.

Physic-chemical water recovery

Depending on the local regulation, treated municipal wastewater offers the possibility of being reused. In most countries, after conventional aerobic wastewater treatment, treated sewage is being discharged in nearby rivers and transported to the sea, feeding the surrounding aquifers.

Although the treated water is considered clean enough for safe discharge, it is not safe enough for reuse. With increasing water scarcity, technologies are implemented for maximum recovery. A non-membrane-solution for recovering municipal wastewater consists of a series of tertiary treatment steps such as sand filtration, followed by UV-treatment for viruses and bacteria elimination and chlorination for disinfection. After tertiary treatment, when meeting the required KPI’s, the water can be safe enough for irrigation of public spaces, golf courses and even in agriculture for irrigation purposes. Although it is technically feasible to produce safe drinking water from treated sewage, in most countries the process is still not being applied. The mental barrier is still preventing consumers to drink water from treated sewage.

By comparing the features and benefits of different water recovery systems, industries can select the system that best fits their needs and goals, conserving water and reducing their environmental impact.

Membrane-based water recovery

Membrane based technologies are the most applied technologies for water reuse in the industry. A membrane is a material that allows the selective flow of certain substances. In the case of water purification or regeneration, the aim is for the water to flow through the membrane, retaining undesirable particles on the other side.

Membrane processes stand out for their capacity to retain solids and salts and even disinfect water, producing water suitable for reuse in irrigation and other drinking water applications. The Waterleau Aquality® Membrane Bio Reactor (MBR), Aquality Ultrafiltration, Reverse Osmosis (RO) and High Recovery Reverse Osmosis (HRRO) are Waterleau solutions for the production of a high-quality effluent, Aquality® HHRO offering the highest recovery yields.

2.A. Membrane Bioreactor (MBR): MBR technology-based solutions combine biological treatment with membrane processes like ultrafiltration or nanofiltration to remove organic matter, nutrients, and pathogens from water. When used for domestic water, MBR can produce effluent form high enough quality for safe discharge into the sea or water surfaces as well as for urban irrigation. When used for industrial wastewater, MBR is often used after anaerobic treatment. Submerged into an existing aerobic treatment tank, MBR allows to produce a high-quality effluent without additional civils infrastructure, making MBR an ideal solution for upgrading existing wastewater treatment infrastructure without disrupting operations. For smaller flows Waterleau offers next to submerged external MBR solutions.

Advantages AQUALITY® MBR systems

  • High-quality effluent suitable for a wide range reuse purpose
  • Eliminates the need for clarifiers
  • Smaller footprint due to higher sludge concentrations than in a conventional aerobic treatment
  • Ideal for retrofitting or upgrading existing plants: no additional space needed
  • Reduced need for chemicals and other treatment methods
  • Lower sludge production and disposal costs
  • Ideal solution as a pre-treatment step for Reverse Osmosis to implement water reuse.

2.B Reverse Osmosis

Reverse Osmosis is a cross-flow filtration using high-pressure, spiral-wound and fouling-resistant membranes. The transport of water through the membrane is mainly by means of diffusion through the membrane from one bonding site to another. RO systems use a semi-permeable membrane to remove impurities and contaminants from water, producing clean, high-quality water for reuse. The effluent in larger volumes is treated in a water treatment plant first, and then the effluent runs through RO. This hybrid process reduces treatment cost significantly and lengthens membrane life.

Advantages AQUALITY® RO systems

  • High water recovery rates (up to 80%)
  • Very compact skids
  • Reduced need for chemicals and other treatment methods

2.C High Recovery Reverse Osmosis

AQUALITY® High Recovery Reverse Osmosis (HHRO) is an advanced RO solution allowing to boost water recovery from 75 up to 90 percent.

The AQUALITY® HRRO smart recovery solution is available in compact containerized unit for easy integration in any existing water treatment infrastructure. Connected to the SmartLab® cloud-based water management platform, it becomes easy to connect, analyze and optimize your smart water recovery system’s performance in just a click.

Advantages AQUALITY® RO systems

  • Up to 95% recovery range
  • Plug & Play
  • Resilience & reliability
  • Optimized utilization of the treatment capacity

Comparison: When comparing these water recovery systems, it's important to consider the specific needs and goals of your industry. RO systems are ideal for industries with high-quality drinking water requirements like for instance cooling, condensers, boiler, cleaning, pasteurization as well as drinking water applications. MBR systems are suited for industries with strict effluent discharge regulations or for irrigation water reuse.


Water recovery systems are a critical component of sustainable water management in industries. By comparing the features and benefits of different water recovery systems, industries can select the system that best fits their needs and goals, conserving water and reducing their environmental impact. MBR solutions produce a high-quality effluent ready for discharge or as a pre-treatment step for High Recovery Reverse Osmosis solutions. When it comes to maximal water efficiency, the Aquality® High Recovery Reverse Osmosis offers the best cards.

Get Your Personalized Water Recovery Plan!

Are you tired of seeing your hard-earned money flow down the drain? We have water solutions that will not only save you money but also make a positive impact on the environment. By implementing water recovery, you can reclaim water that is ready for reuse and stop relying solely on your intake water source.

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