We are all aware how vital water is to our region. Managing water resources and the future water demand for our customers is a hallmark of the department. Due to several new initiatives, we have expanded our water portfolio to an ongoing 2,336 acre feet of Central Arizona Project water rights. For more on that story click here.
Currently, we are using traditional methods to meet water demands which include options such as long-term storage credits, recharge water credits, and annual allocations from the CAP. There are, however, many new technologies and methods to address growing demand on water resources. Today we are going to highlight direct potable reuse.
Direct Potable Reuse (DPR) uses treated wastewater that has been run through additional advanced treatment technologies, which brings it up to and surpasses traditional drinking water quality. These types of projects eliminate the step where water is recharged into the aquifer and then pumped through wells into the drinking water system. One of the advantages of using a DPR system is the reduction in energy and infrastructure costs associated with this pumping step. Right now, Pima County treated wastewater is discharged into the Lower Santa Cruz River and used to recharge the aquifer. There are some parks and golf courses that are on Tucson Water’s reclaim system, which uses advanced treated wastewater for irrigation purposes only. This system has not gone through the entire process to make the water drinking water quality.
Under existing Arizona rules, uses such as irrigation and industry are acceptable practices for reclaimed water, but DPR is not allowable. There has been some discussion on changing this direction, and, should the rule change, it would leave the option open for communities or water providers to examine and possibly implement. Currently, there is no need to turn to DPR to meet demands in the Marana region, but there are places around the country that have implemented these types of programs. Big Springs and Wichita Falls, Texas, and Cloudcroft, New Mexico, have implemented DPR programs due to resource needs in their area, and California has been working on studies and advancing DPR technologies to address their drought conditions. Communities like Ventura, California have a small demonstration facility for creating advanced treated water.
Those working on DPR technologies are moving toward showing that the science works, but are now moving to how to best regulate and monitor these types of systems. There are many states across the country that are progressing toward updating regulations to include DPR as part of their water portfolios in the future.
While still not permitted in Arizona, our staff are continually monitoring what happens with this technology. Our commitment to a reliable drinking water supply is more than just ensuring that water is delivered to your home. It also includes ensuring we have access to water in the future.
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