POTENTIAL FOR EXPANDING THE NATION’S WATER SUPPLY
THROUGH REUSE OF MUNICIPAL WASTEWATER
Committee on the Assessment of Water Reuse as an Approach
for Meeting Future Water Supply Needs
Water Science and Technology Board
Division on Earth and Life Studies
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the panel responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
Support for this study was provided by the Environmental Protection Agency under contract number EP-C-09-003: TO#7, the National Science Foundation under grant number CBET-0924454, the National Water Research Institute under grant number 08-KM-006, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation under grant number R11AP81325, the Water Research Foundation under agreement 04276:PF, and the Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.
The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering.
The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.
The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.
COMMITTEE ON THE ASSESSMENT OF WATER REUSE AS AN APPROACH TO MEETING FUTURE WATER SUPPLY NEEDS
RHODES R. TRUSSELL, Chair, Trussell Technologies, Pasadena, California
HENRY A. ANDERSON, Wisconsin Division of Public Health, Madison, Wisconsin
EDMUND G. ARCHULETA, El Paso Water Utilities PSB, El Paso, Texas
JAMES CROOK, Environmental Engineering Consultant, Norwell, Massachusetts
JÖRG E. DREWES, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, Colorado
DENISE D. FORT, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico
CHARLES N. HAAS, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
BRENT M. HADDAD, University of California, Santa Cruz, California
DUANE B. HUGGETT, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas
SUNNY JIANG, University of California, Irvine, California
DAVID L. SEDLAK, University of California, Berkeley, California
SHANE A. SNYDER, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona
MARGARET H. WHITTAKER, ToxServices LLC, Washington, D.C.
DALE WHITTINGTON, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
STEPHANIE E. JOHNSON, Study Director, Water Science and Technology Board
SARAH E. BRENNAN, Program Assistant, Water Science and Technology Board (from July 2010)
STEPHEN RUSSELL, Program Assistant (until July 2010)
Starting in the late 19th and through most of the 20th century, the United States built a substantial infrastructure to capture fresh water and bring it to our farms and cities. Although efforts to add to that infrastructure continue, by most measures the amount of water delivered has not materially increased in the past 30 years, but the U.S. population has continued to climb. The National Research Council (NRC, 2001) said, “In this new century, the United States will be challenged to provide sufficient quantities of high-quality water to its growing population.” This report is part of an ongoing effort by the NRC to understand the tools the nation has available to address the challenge identified in that statement—in this case, the role water reuse might play in the nation’s water future.
The committee formed by the NRC’s Water Science and Technology Board performed a critical assessment of water reuse as an approach to meet future water supply needs. The report presents a brief summary of the nation’s recent history in water use and shows that, although reuse is not a panacea, the amount of wastewater discharged to the environment is of such quantity that it could play a significant role in the overall water resource picture and complement other strategies, such as water conservation. The report also identifies a research agenda designed to help the nation progress in making the most appropriate use of the resource.
For each of us, our most precious resource is our time. This project was a substantial project, involving eight meetings. I want to thank the members of this committee for their most generous contribution of their personal time to this project. That time is especially valuable because of the unique individual expertise and intellect each of member brought to the task. Once again, as it does so well, the NRC assembled a collection of the nation’s best minds from a broad spectrum of disciplines and assigned them to work together to address an issue important to the nation’s future. Once again, the process worked beautifully and, in a collaborative spirit, these individuals worked together to produce many insights none of us had as individuals when we walked into our first meeting and a report that the committee should be proud of.
Those who have been on an NRC committee know that staff play a critical role in the success of the project. Our study director, Stephanie Johnson, is an amazing woman—organized, disciplined, persistent, able to cope with great detail, and a fabulous technical writer. She was in constant communication with all of us; reminding us of our assignments, providing us with critical comments, personally writing some sections of the report, and thoroughly editing our myriad styles to produce a document that speaks with a single voice. This report would not have happened were it not for her effort. The committee is also grateful for the assistance provided by Stephen Russell and Sarah Brennan, project assistants, who handled administrative details of the meetings, did supporting research, and aided in report preparation.
Thanks are also due to the sponsors who provided support for the study. This report was undertaken with support from a myriad of sponsors. More than half of the study funding was provided by the Environmental Protection Agency, with the remaining funding from
the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the National Science Foundation, the National Water Research Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Water Research Foundation, Orange County Water District, Orange County Sanitation District, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Irvine Ranch Water District, West Basin Water District, Inland Empire Utilities Agency, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts, and the Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency.
The committee held meetings at several locations, including California, Florida, Colorado, Texas, and Washington D.C. In particular the committee would like to thank the individuals and agencies who gave presentations and provided tours to help the committee in its deliberations (see Acknowledgments).
In draft form the report was reviewed by individuals chosen for their breadth of perspective and technical expertise in accordance with the procedures approved by the National Academies’ Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review was to provide candid and critical comments to assist the NRC in ensuring that the final report is scientifically credible and that it meets NRC standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The reviewer comments and the draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the deliberative process. We thank the following reviewers for their criticisms, advice, and insight, all of which were considered and many of which were wholly or partly incorporated in the final report: Bryan Brooks, Baylor University; Charles Gerba, University of Arizona; Jerome Gilbert, Engineering Perfection, PLLC; Robert Hultquist, California Department of Public Health; Anna Hurlimann, The University of Melbourne; Blanca Jimenez, Instituto de Ingenieria UNAM; Stuart Khan, University of New South Wales; Margaret Nellor, Nellor Environmental Associates, Inc.; Larry Roesner, Colorado State University; Dan Tarlock, Chicago Kent College of Law; George Tchobanoglous, University of California, Davis (emeritus); Michael Wehner, Orange County Water District; and Paul Westerhoff, Arizona State University.
Although reviewers were asked to, and did, provide constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions and recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Edward Bouwer, Johns Hopkins University, and Michael Kavanaugh, Geosyntec Consultants. Appointed by the NRC, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with NRC procedures and that all review comments received full consideration. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the NRC.
R. Rhodes Trussell, Chair
Committee on the Assessment of
Water Reuse as an Approach for
Meeting Future Water Supply Needs
Many individuals assisted the committee and the National Research Council staff in their task to create this report. We would like to express our appreciation to the following people who have provided presentations to the committee and served as guides during the field trips:
Richard Atwater, Inland Empire Utilities Agency
Jared Bales, U.S. Geological Survey
Robert Bastian, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Curt Brown, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
Shonnie Cline, AWWA Research Foundation
Glenn Clingenpeel, Trinity River Authority
Betsy Cody, Congressional Research Service
Phil Cross, Conserv II
James Dobrowolski, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Mark Elsner, Southwest Florida Water Management District
Chris Ferraro, Florida Department of Environmental Protection
James Franckiewicz, U.S. Agency for International Development
Bertha Goldenberg, Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department
Brian Good, Denver Water
Bruce Hamilton, National Science Foundation
Larry Honeybourne, Orange County Health Care Agency
Martin Jekel, Technical University of Berlin, Germany
Josh Johnson, Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Rai Kookana, CSIRO Land and Water, Australia
Mark LeChevallier, American Water
Audrey Levine, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Mong Hoo Lim, Public Utilities Board, Singapore
Dean Marrone, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
James McDaniel, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
Mark Millan, Data Instincts
Wade Miller, WateReuse Foundation
David Moore, Southwest Florida Water Management District
John Morris, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
Jeff Mosher, National Water Research Institute
Lynn Orphan, Clean Water Coalition
Pankaj Parekh, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
Larry Parsons, University of Florida
Mark Pifher, Aurora Water
Robert Quint, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
Mark Sees, Orlando Easterly Wetlands
Peter Silva, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Mark Squillace, University of Colorado Law School
Marsi Steirer, City of San Diego Department of Water
Frank Stephens, Gwinnett County Water Resources
Ray Tremblay, Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts
Bob Vincent, Florida Department of Health
Joe Waters, West Basin Municipal Water District
Michael Wehner, Orange County Water District
Ron Wildermuth, Orange County Water District
Hal Wilkening, Southwest Florida Water Management District
Dan Woltering, Water Environment Research Foundation
Max Zarate-Bermudez, U.S. Center for Disease Control
We would also like to thank Sangam Tiwari, Trussell Technologies, Inc. for her detailed verification of the risk exemplar.
1 A NEW ERA OF WATER MANAGEMENT
Population Growth and Water Supply
New Approaches to Water Management
Statement of Committee Task and Report Overview
2 CURRENT STATE OF WATER REUSE
Planned Nonpotable Water Reuse Applications
Conclusions and Recommendations
4 WASTEWATER RECLAMATION TECHNOLOGY
Preliminary, Primary, and Secondary Treatment
5 ENSURING WATER QUALITY IN WATER RECLAMATION
Design Principles to Ensure Quality and Reliability
Steps to Ensure Water Quality in Water Reuse
Conclusions and Recommendations
Introduction to the Risk Framework
Context for Understanding Waterborne Illnesses and Outbreaks
Water Reuse Exposure Assessment
Conclusions and Recommendations
7 EVALUATING THE RISKS OF POTABLE REUSE IN CONTEXT
Previous NRC Assessments of Reuse Risks
8 ECOLOGICAL ENHANCEMENT VIA WATER REUSE
Potential Concerns about Environmental Applications
Approaches for Assessing Ecological Risks of Reclaimed Water
Conclusions and Recommendations
Factors Affecting the Financial Costs of Water Reuse Projects
Nonmonetized Costs and Benefits of Reuse
Comparative Costs of Supply Alternatives
Conclusions and Recommendations
10 SOCIAL, LEGAL, AND REGULATORY ISSUES AND OPPORTUNITIES
The Federal Water Quality Regulatory Framework
Water Reuse Regulations and Guidelines
Public Involvement and Attitudes