“Blackwater” Recycling at the Olympics

Harvesting rainwater and recycling greywater are well known and established practices.

Blackwater reuse (from toilets) does not have as high a profile, but that may change after it has been used at the 2012 Olympic Games.

  • Wastewater from London’s sewers will be treated and used to fill toilets, for landscape irrigation at the Olympic Park and Village and provide cooling water for the energy center that powers Olympic venues.
  • This blackwater recycling program will help the Olympic Games to significantly reduce its potable water usage and is understood to be the first community-scale wastewater reclamation project to directly reuse non-potable water in the U.K.
  • Blackwater recycling is viable because London and the rest of southeast England experience regular droughts and water shortages.  Blackwater recycling provides a steady, predictable supply of “water” with limited requirements for new pipe and pumping networks to be be built.

The Blcakwater recycling facility provides for treatment in several stages.

  • Pre-treatment phase – Screening and settlement process in septic tanks to remove solids.
  • Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) technology – Oxygenation and filtration to promote the microbial breakdown of organic matter.
  • Carbon Filter – Removal of a wide variety of organic compounds and color by absorption
  • Chlorination – Disinfection to prevent future microbial growth.
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