Water purification and water reclamation are similar but a bit different. Water purification is when you take fresh water and run it through some systems to make it clean a ready for drinking. Water purification can be brought a few steps further to make it medical grade ready or it can be purified for particular use in a certain drink or other industry. Water reclamation is when wastewater is collected and cleaned. This water is primarily used for irrigation purposes.
Water that has gone through the purification process is what will be in a public water system. If your home uses a well, you may have a purification system in your home or none at all. Purified public water supplies bring with them health for the people that use them. Countries that do not use purification plants often have problems with waterborne diseases and sanitation issues.
If you find yourself in the woods and are near a stream, do not drink the water right out of the stream. Your best bet is to purify it by boiling at the very least. You can also add iodine tablets or chlorine. Water purification plants are much more advanced than this. They usually use a large body of water as a supply. They have the water supply pumped into the purification plant and use a series of filtration techniques to clean the water. After this, they often add chlorine to the supply and sometimes other additives and then it is pumped out to the public for use.
There are companies that take water purification even further than municipalities. This can be done for different industries. One industry is the bottled water industry; they want their water to taste better or different than municipal water supplies. Bottled water companies will usually add additional ingredients to their water mixture like minerals or vitamins that will offset the taste a bit. Another industry that uses a lot of ultra-clean water is the medical industry. The medical industry, a lot of the time, requires just plain water, no minerals or other additives.
Reclaimed water is on the other end of the spectrum. Reclaimed water is mainly used for irrigation. Municipalities have used it with success for parks and municipal buildings. It can also be used as water to flush the toilet. The main thing is that this type of water is not usually cleaned to the point that you would want to be drinking it. Farms and other factories that use a lot of water will reclaim their own wastewater using filters like bioprocessH2O's membrane systems.
This is not a problem for factories that use water to cool items. The water does not become very contaminated, to begin with, so reclaiming it by running it through a filtration system is not very complicated. Municipalities also reclaim wastewater. The wastewater reclaimed by municipalities is most commonly rainwater that comes in the open sewage line under the street. This water is reclaimed and sold back to the population to be used for irrigation, in factories, or other uses where the water is not ingested.
Wastewater from homes is more or less reclaimed, but most cities do not sell this type of water back to the people. They reclaim the water and then release it back into nature. One day, tech innovations for a futuristic bathroom could bring reclaimed water into people's bathrooms to flush the toilet only.
The EPA is looking at having new homes leave room for a gray water system to be installed by the street of each home. This area of the country is very dry, and a gray water system could help them during drought season in the summer to keep plants growing and the freshwater supply sufficient for residents.
Purified water is sourced from lakes, rivers, wells, and other natural sources. Purified water is the water that we drink. Reclaimed water is cleaned up wastewater that is used for most anything other than drinking. The filtration processes are overall similar, but some industries take water purification much further than those that use reclaimed water.