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EPA Action Plan to Boost Water Reuse Across U.S.

The U.S. EPA today released a draft plan to advance water reuse nationally at the WateReuse Association Symposium in San Diego.

The National Water Reuse Action Plan identifies 46 proposed actions organized around 10 strategic objectives, including leadership and collaboration, to support the implementation of water reuse.

“Forty states anticipate experiencing fresh water shortages in certain regions within their borders over the next decade,” said David Ross, EPA’s assistant administrator for water. “Diversifying our nation’s water portfolio must be a nationwide priority, and water reuse has the potential to ensure the viability of our water economy for generations to come.”

The draft plan incorporates federal, state, tribal and local water perspectives and highlights key actions that support consideration and implementation of water reuse.

The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have worked for decades to increase the region’s water supply reliability through supply diversification, and the Water Authority collaborated with its member agencies to submit comments to the EPA before the draft was released.

Increasing San Diego County's Water Supply Reliability through Supply Diversification

Recycled water and potable reuse are forecast to make up more than one-quarter of San Diego County’s water supply by 2035. Graphic: San Diego County Water Authority

National Water Reuse Action Plan a ‘game changer’

The draft plan will be open for public comment for 90 days following its publication to the Federal Register. During that period, EPA will solicit feedback about how to prioritize and implement the proposed actions.

EPA’s goal is to issue a final plan that will include clear commitments and milestones for actions that will further water reuse to bolster the sustainability, security and resilience of the nation’s water resources, according to the agency.

“The National Water Reuse Action Plan will be a game changer,” said Patricia Sinicropi, executive director of the WateReuse Association. “Communities across the country are incorporating water reuse into their water management strategies as a proven method for ensuring a safe, reliable, locally controlled water supply – essential for livable communities, healthy environments, robust economies and a high quality of life.”

EPA Action Plan to Boost Water Reuse Across U.S.

The U.S. EPA released a draft National Water Reuse Action Plan on September 10, 2019 in San Diego. Graphic: EPA

San Diego County agencies developing water reuse and recycling

In San Diego County, several agencies are developing or expanding water recycling plans, including the City of San DiegoPadre Dam Municipal Water District, Helix Water District, the City of Oceanside, and several additional projects in North County.

Padre Dam Demonstration Facility-Padre Dam MWD photo

Padre Dam’s demonstration project is evaluating the feasibility of the East County Advanced Water Purification Program. Since March 2015, the pilot program has produced approximately 100,000 gallons of purified water each day. Photo: Padre Dam MWD

“California is widely recognized as a national and world leader in water recycling,” according to the California WateReuse Action Plan, released in July 2019. “Recycled water supplies offset approximately 9% of the state’s urban water demands and agricultural reuse provides reliable water supplies for farmers throughout the state.”

In July, the Water Authority Board endorsed Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-10-19, directing development of a water resilience portfolio approach that meets the needs of California through the 21st century.

On July 18, state officials toured San Diego County water infrastructure to see the region’s successful water portfolio approach for supply diversification, as they work to create the statewide water resilience portfolio.

EPA Action Plan to Boost Water Reuse Across U.S.

The EPA Draft National Water Reuse Action Plan cites examples from California water agencies. Graphic: EPA

Reclamation Awards More Than $35M To Water Reclamation, Reuse Projects In California

Bureau of Reclamation is awarding $35.3 million for six authorized Title XVI water reclamation and reuse projects in California. The funding will be used to improve flexibility during water shortages and diversify the water supply. “Title XVI projects provide opportunities for communities to recycle wastewater and treat water that was previously unusable,” Commissioner Brenda Burman said. “It is a proven tool that enables communities to access dependable water supplies.”

IDE Technologies Opens California Wastewater Reuse Demo Facilities

IDE Technologies’ technology is being used in two new wastewater reuse demo facilities in California: the Central Coast Blue Advanced Water Purification Demo Facility, in partnership with the City of Pismo Beach, and the Regional Recycled Water Advanced Purification Center Demo Facility, in partnership with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County.

Where Water Is Scarce, Communities Turn To Reusing Wastewater

Then California’s Orange County Water District began distributing drinking water derived from sewage in the mid-1970s, it acted out of simple need. The aquifer it relied on for most of its drinking water had been so overdrawn that saltwater from the nearby Pacific Ocean was seeping into it, and allocation limits prevented increases in exports from the Colorado River and Sierra Nevada Mountains, sources of the rest of the district’s water. Orange County was then a bastion of political conservatism, not the sort of place associated with environmental innovation, but water scarcity is a powerful motivator.