Water sector collaborates on National Water Reuse Action Plan

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), along with federal partners, has released the National Water Reuse Action Plan: Collaborative Implementation, a collection of bold actions developed in collaboration with water sector organizations that will reshape the way communities around the nation manage water. The plan identifies 37 actions across 11 strategic themes to give communities tools to consider and adopt water reuse as part of an integrated water resources plan.

EPA announced its intent to facilitate the development of the National Water Reuse Action Plan (WRAP) one year ago on Feb. 27, 2019. National water organizations including the WateReuse Association, American Water Works Association (AWWA), Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), Water Environment Federation (WEF), and The Water Research Foundation (WRF) worked in partnership with utilities, businesses and government to develop recommendations for the plan.

“The WateReuse Association is pleased to have been an integral part of both developing the WRAP and planning for its implementation,” said WateReuse Association Executive Director Patricia Sinicropi. “We thank EPA for launching a national water reuse initiative, commend the entire federal family for their collaboration, and look forward to leading several of the actions identified in the plan.”

The WRAP identifies tools related to education, policy, technology development, research, and a variety of other mechanisms to increase the likelihood that more cities and states will consider incorporating water reuse into their water management strategy.

“AWWA looks forward to collaborating with EPA and our many water sector partners in implementing the Water Reuse Action Plan,” said AWWA CEO David LaFrance. “Expanded water reuse, and particularly potable reuse, can be key in diversifying water resource portfolios, increasing resiliency and assuring safe and sustainable drinking water.”

EPA along with other federal agencies such as the U.S. Departments of Energy and State and the U.S. Geological Survey, as well as national water associations will lead actions and collaborate on others to ensure implementation. Actions led by national water sector organizations include developing a database to track and report state-level policies and regulations, coordinating research, and workforce development.

“On a national scale, consideration of water reuse is essential to ensuring water resilience, security and sustainability,” said AMWA CEO Diane VanDe Hei. “AMWA applauds that the National Reuse Action Plan supports the necessary research to inform the key building blocks for public health protection in implementing potable reuse projects.”

Investment in water reuse builds communities that are modern, sustainable, and poised for economic growth. Recycled water is used coast-to-coast, including:

  • In Idaho where the use of recycled water on crops keeps 2000 tons of nitrogen and 500 tons of phosphorous out of rivers and streams;
  • In Massachusetts where an onsite, decentralized water recycling system enabled Foxborough  to host a stadium for the New England Patriots;
  • In California where Orange County purifies recycled water to meet the drinking water needs of one-third of its population; and
  • In Nevada where the availability of recycled water is making it possible for the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center to attract 100 companies that will bring over 20,000 new economy jobs to the high desert.

“NACWA is proud to have participated alongside a variety of stakeholders in the water sector as well as EPA in advancing the recommendations contained within the Water Reuse Action Plan, said NACWA CEO Adam Krantz. “Ensuring cooperation among all stakeholders on reuse is the key to achieving the ambitious goals developed by this diverse coalition. NACWA looks forward to advancing the reuse initiatives unveiled today.”

In the U.S., about 340 billion gallons of water per day are discharged from sources including municipal wastewater, industry process water, and agriculture runoff. Water reuse, also known as water recycling, captures water from a variety of sources and cleans it for a designated beneficial freshwater purpose such as drinking, industrial processes, surface or ground water replenishment, and watershed restoration.

“It is absolutely vital to increase and diversify the practice of water reuse to ensure a sustainable water future,” said WEF President Jackie Jarrell. “The leadership and resources of U.S. EPA and other federal agencies is essential to advancing water reuse on a national scale. WEF looks forward to collaboration on this shared priority.”

Eighty percent of U.S. states anticipate a strain in their water supplies over the next decade. Water reuse provides alternatives to existing water supplies and enhances water security, sustainability and resilience.

“Research on water reuse is central to our One Water mission of advancing the science of water to improve the quality of life,” said WRF CEO Peter Grevatt. “The Water Research Foundation is looking forward to working with the US EPA and other partners on the development of a water reuse research roadmap to build on our $30 million investment into research related to direct potable reuse.”

The National Water Reuse Action Plan makes diversifying the nation’s water portfolio a national priority. With continued collaboration among public and private partners in implementing this plan, the U.S. could recycle as much as 80 percent of all water within 50 years.

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