Water Recycling

Contributor: Roxann Penny. Lesson ID: 12766

We can only survive a few days without drinking fresh water, but there is just so much to go around. Luckily, we can recycle used water! See how it goes from flush to fresh and how you can help!


Earth Science, People and Their Environment

learning style
Kinesthetic, Visual
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • Did you know that water, like paper and plastic, can be recycled?

Explore this lesson to learn more about water recycling and its importance to the earth and all of us!

  • What is water recycling?

Water recycling is the process of treating wastewater for reuse. Wastewater is water that was once used in homes, businesses, and industrial plants, to name a few. This water is collected and treated in special treatment facilities that process the water to make it safe for reuse.

Take a look at the images below. They show a waste water treatment plant.

  • What do you observe in the pictures?
  • What do you think happens in each of the pictures?

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Although the earth's surface is mainly made up of water, only a small amount of this water is fresh water. As a result, water recycling is an essential part of conserving, or protecting, the earth's natural freshwater supplies.

Recycled water is used in many ways. For instance, recycled water is used by farmers for irrigation (watering crops), by landscapers to maintain lawns, in construction projects to control dust, and by large industries to keep machinery cool.

The recycling process for wastewater is very rigorous — this means that before wastewater is considered safe for reuse, it must meet very high safety standards, so no need to rethink that next glass of water!

Consider the following questions.

  • What are other ways that recycled water may be used?
  • Does water recycling really matter?
  • What are the benefits of water recycling?

Now, watch this video tour of a wastewater treatment plant. Although this particular plant is part of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, it is similar to other plants.

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  • In your opinion, what was the most interesting part of the water treatment process?
  • What surprising details did you discover in the presentation?
  • What can people do to help ensure that water treatment facilities operate efficiently?

When you are ready, move on to the Got It? section to test your knowledge about water recycling.

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