New solution for decentralized wastewater reuse
In addition to the reuse approach at large "centralized" wastewater treatment and water reclamation plants, we believe decentralized wastewater treatment reuse occurring closer to the point of generation (i.e., smaller reuse systems) can be beneficial environmentally and economically.
With between 20 and 25 percent of the total U.S. population relying on a decentralized wastewater treatment system, small reuse systems can potentially be a significant component of water and wastewater management in the U.S.
However there are many barriers to be addressed including: 1) lack of education; 2) disintegrated regulations on a county, state and federal level; 3) pathogen removal concerns; and, 4) lack of a consistent national standard and suitable decentralized water reuse technologies, to fully implement a decentralized water reuse strategy.
Treating and reusing wastewater for non-potable water can be an excellent way to overcome the life-threatening water scarcity situation many communities need to deal with today and many more communities will be facing tomorrow.
Most of the water reuse technology currently developed and used in the U.S. occurs at large "centralized" wastewater treatment plants. There is a need to expand the water reuse effort to decentralized water reuse (DWR) systems distributed throughout communities, in neighborhoods, at businesses and commercial facilities as well as individual homes.
Climate change induced drought, rapid urbanization and industrialization, developing small-scale advanced wastewater treatment technologies, green building concepts, and needed cost savings in wastewater treatment and water supply are some of the driving forces behind the emerging trend of DWR systems.
New technology is an integral component of DWR systems as the quality of the reclaimed water has a direct impact on public health and the environment. There has been a growing interest in using scaled-down membrane bioreactor systems for decentralized wastewater treatment with water reuse opportunities.
California already uses reclaimed water for restricted and unrestricted urban reuse, food crop and non-food crop agricultural reuse, restricted and unrestricted recreational reuse, industrial reuse, groundwater recharge and indirect potable reuse.
Very small DWR systems with flows less than 1,500 gallons per day can be just as valuable as larger DWRs for protecting drinking water by providing non-potable reuse waters for toilet flushing, irrigation, chiller waters, etc. in low-flow situations such as at individual homes, small commercial facilities, businesses, parks, etc.
An on-site, very small scale DWR can extend the capacity of businesses to keep operations functioning even in the event of failure of centralized water supplies due to natural disasters, drought, contamination events, accidents or terrorist activities.
The department of Soil Science at N.C. State University just completed a study of Anua's PuraMC membrane bioreactor. They concluded that the consistent production of reuse quality water can provide new supplies of locally produced non-potable water for rural and urban communities.
Use of reclaimed effluent can reduce demands on potable water supplies by providing local decentralized supplies for meeting non-potable needs in communities.
Keeping the water reuse opportunity close to the location where generation of non-potable water takes place will have an environmental benefit from the perspective of carbon and energy footprints, particularly considering the extensive pipe network needed for installation of centralized reuse systems and their energy requirements.
Have you considered a decentralized water reuse system for your home or community?
Topics: Water Quality
Tom Smith Tom Smith is the former director of operations and marketing at Anua. Tom is driving demand for wastewater treatment, water reuse, rainwater harvesting and odor/VOC control solutions. He has a B.A. from Duke University and an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business.