The demand for water has increased throughout Texas recently, and is magnified by the extreme drought conditions visited upon the majority of the state over the last several years. As this demand has grown, Texas water suppliers have begun to explore options to supplement the withdrawal of water from a watercourse or well. Some are turning to the utilization of reclaimed water to satisfy their needs. In its simplest form, reclaimed water is previously “used” water (wastewater) that is captured and re-applied for additional purposes. The use of reclaimed water reduces the amount of “new” potable water that would otherwise be dedicated to activities arguably not suitable for those resources.
Several Texas cities and regions have begun to implement a plan to utilize reclaimed water. San Antonio’s water district uses reclaimed water to irrigate golf courses, parks, and supplements the flow of the downtown Riverwalk. College Station similarly is embarking on a plan to irrigate its sports fields and parks. El Paso gathers its wastewater and injects it into the aquifer from which the city draws some of its drinking water, thereby mixing with existing groundwater that will later be withdrawn and cleaned before distribution to taps. The City of Austin estimates reclaimed water amounts to nearly 3% of total water usage in 2011, and El Paso plans to increase its total from six to 15 percent in the next ten years.
In addition, the Colorado River Municipal Water Authority is in the process of building a facility that will clean the wastewater stream from a treatment plant, strain and disinfect it, and inject the clean water into the infrastructure that transmits the district’s customers’ drinking water (pre-water treatment plant). The Authority expects to send approximately 2 million gallons of the reclaimed water into the system per day. While this amount is not a large percentage of the district’s total water supply, it is expected that water suppliers are merely scratching the surface of the capabilities of a district to utilize wastewater that was otherwise thought to be of little or no value. For more detail on the plans, and links to other specifics, the original article can be found here.