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Recycle Water To Fight Drought?

May 31,2015-

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People don’t realize that California has plenty of water – it’s just not using it correctly. Yes, there is the yuck factor to overcome when drinking treated wastewater, for instance. But technologies are in use today that make California’s treated wastewater and stormwater runoff safer to drink than bottled water.
So says Doug Owen, a water engineer for ARCADIS and an industry expert who has devoted his life to educating governments and enterprises about water resources. Here’s his pitch.
·       Reusing wastewater – Every day in California, billions of gallons of highly treated wastewater are discharged into the ocean that could be recycled. Studies estimate that treated wastewater could yield more than 1 billion gallons a day of potable water, enough to meet the needs of more than 8 million Californians. Today’s purification technologies — combining micro- or ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis, ultraviolet disinfection and advanced oxidation — are safe, reliable and leave the water cleaner than most bottled water. Case study: Orange County is re-using 70 million gallons of treated wastewater per day to recharge its aquifer and is currently commissioning another 30 mgd.
·       Reusing stormwater – A one-inch rain storm in L.A. County can produce more than 10 billion gallons of runoff, with most of that water ending up in the Pacific Ocean.  Capturing runoff and recharging depleted ground water aquifers, or treating it for urban and industrial use, is more beneficial.
For example, stormwater runoff in San Francisco and Southern California could recharge local water supplies by between 420,000 and 630,000 acre-feet per year, or about the same as the water used by L.A. in one year.
·       Desalination – The Carlsbad desalination plant near San Diego will go on-line this fall and is expected to deliver 50 million gallons per day or 7 percent of San Diego County’s potable water for residential, agricultural and industrial use. It’s a tactical approach to enhance the water portfolio in areas where drought is expected for long periods.
·       Importing water is not sustainable – In terms of cost, energy requirements, environmental considerations and reliability, importing water over long distances is a poor solution.
·       Conserving water – It’s important, but you can’t conserve your way out of an extended drought.
Doug says, “The amount of water on Earth doesn’t change. Throughout time, all water is reused water. Recycling water is drought-proof, cost-competitive and safe.”
Doug Owen is executive vice president and chief technical officer of water for Arcadis North America, Board Chair for WateReuse Research Foundation, and board member of the Water Environment Research Foundation. He is a published author on water resources, policy and treatment and is based in San Diego.




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