In this current age of heightened environmental awareness, we are constantly being told how much water we waste on a daily basis. But Can water really be wasted? This is a very interesting question that is best answered through looking at how we treat water in today's society.
Water treatment plants are very complex, large scale industrial compounds that help prepare water for its end use. There are many different methods of water purification that are used for different uses, but we will focus on the methods for drinking water as this is how most water we come in to contact with is treated.
Water Treatment Process
Treatment Plants prepare their potable water using a varied combination of several processes. The most common of these treatment methods are pre-chlorination, aeration, coagulation, sedimentation, filtration, desalination and disinfection. Each one has a specific role in the purification process and offers for the removal of whatever may be present in the water of any particular area.
But how could all of this be affected by wasting water? Well, the answer is not exactly what you may think. Because most people are aware of the basic water cycle, we know that water is constantly being recycled by nature. This would drive most to the conclusion that it is insignificant how much water they unnecessarily use on a regular basis. However, it most certainly does.
The already purified water that many people just let run through the sink and into the septic tank unused adds up. This means that the water purification plants have to purify even more water, which greatly increases the amount of energy they require. It also means that even more water has to be harvested from the already dwindling natural water sources, which could also pose a threat to the ecosystem of the area around it.
Diminishing Water Quality
It also must be taken into account that the overall quality of the water could decrease due to it's overuse. The design of a water treatment plant is very complicated as stated above, and it is also a process that cannot be rushed and still achieve the same results. For example, if a water treatment plant had to double its output, less time would go in to ensuring that quality water is being supplied to it's recipients.
To answer the original question; Yes, it is possible to waste water. While the water that you leave unused will one day return into the water cycle, the energy going into its production is lost. Over use of water is something that should be limited by everyone.