Reclaiming what's used
Categories of Reclaimed Water
Water reclamation, or recycling, is the process of treating used water for different categories of reuse. Benefits include increased supply of non-potable water for landscapes and industrial use, reduced demand on surface and groundwater, reduction of undesirable nutrient loads of water returned to the river, and other benefits.
Generally, each state maintains primary regulatory authority in allocating and developing reclaimed water. If reclaimed water is introduced into existing water systems or programs, the Clean Water Act or the Safe Drinking Water Act becomes applicable and the water is regulated and monitored.
Reclaimed water has many environmental benefits. Reclaimed water can be used:
- To decrease wastewater discharge into fresh water sources.
- To restore wetlands.
- On commercial landscapes, golf courses and plant nurseries.
- For some industrial and commercial applications.
- As spray irrigation for agricultural land.
Read about potential and current opportunities in Water Recycling from the Environmental Protection Agency.
Understanding Water Reuse Categories and Uses in Nevada:
Uses of Reclaimed Water in the Region
All water we drink is a product of recycling: from lake and ocean vaporization, to cloud formation, to snowfall, to river flow and to aquifers. In other words, there is no "new" water.
On a much smaller and more rapid scale, we’ve been recycling our wastewater for decades in the Truckee Meadows. By restoring water quality to varying degrees, reuse is a growing and important area of water resource management for the region.
Reclaimed water has many beneficial uses, but foremost, it offsets the demand for water that would normally have to come from the Truckee River which is our primary drinking water source. Common applications for reclaimed water include dust control, commercial or agricultural irrigation, wetland restoration, industrial applications and most recently as an export to the Tahoe Regional Industrial Complex (TRIC).
In this way, reclaimed water becomes a valuable asset to communities. In fact, in the summer when irrigation peaks, reclaimed water produced by the Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility represents 10% of the total water supply used in the region.
In Nevada, there are three categories of reclaimed water based on water quality requirements approved for a defined set of uses: Category B, A and A+. Categories A and B are currently used for irrigation purposes and the newest category (A+), or Advanced Purified Water, is being studied as a potential addition to the region’s water supply portfolio.
Purification through Advanced Treatment (OneWater Nevada)
Across the United States, the refined treatment of reclaimed water has advanced over the past 40 years. Today, several communities have Advanced Purified Water treatment technologies that meet extremely high drinking water standards under the Safe Water Drinking Act.
In the Truckee Meadows, the feasibility of Advanced Purified Water for groundwater replenishment is currently under study. This effort is guided by a collaboration of regional stakeholders and water resource management experts called OneWater Nevada.
This feasibility project is permitted by the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection (NDEP) with the following key goals:
- Evaluate low energy, low costs methods for Advanced Purified Water treatment.
- Evaluate how Advanced Purified Water could add resiliency to the region’s water resource portfolio.
- Assess the suitability of local aquifers as storage location(s) for Advanced Purified Water.
- Explore a market impact study for Advanced Purified Water, including how to account for water created from the process.
The study is permitted until Fall of 2020, when outcomes of the research will be reported back to the NDEP.
Where is advanced water purification already in use?
WateReuse, an organization focused on developing safe, sustainable water supplies, provides the following map featuring case studies where recycled water is being used to augment drinking water supplies.