Abstract: In temperate areas of abundant freshwater there is seldom an urgency to recycle. The statutory protection of inland waters for beneficial uses such as drinking, food processing and game fishing is requiring industries to choose recycling. A European success in this trend is a base metal mining/milling industry which, since 1977, is implementing hydraulic, hydrological, treatment and ecological studies with wastewaters and mine tailings. A model activity, located 50 km from Dublin is considered. Zinc and lead concentrates produced and exported to smelters ultimately yield approximately 194,000 t and 54,000 t of these respective metals (32 and 21 percent of European production). Water use as originally planned would have been approximately 6m(3)/t of ore milled. While ore milling increased by 25 percent to 8,500t/d in 1993, water use declined by 33 percent to 4m(3)/t. The components making up this reduction range from milling technology efficiency to greater recycling from the 165 ha tailings pond. Environmental standards, based on framework regulations originating in EU Directives, have been instrumental in achieving wastewater savings. A conclusion is the value of integrating water quantity, quality, recycling, storage, production and other factors early in project planning. Copyright (C) 1996 IAWQ. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd.