Water Online

JUL 2017

Water Innovations gives Water and Wastewater Engineers and end-users a venue to find project solutions and source valuable product information. We aim to educate the engineering and operations community on important issues and trends.

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By Paula Kehoe W hether challenged by multiyear drought, extreme flooding, impacts due to a changing climate, or increased demand on water supplies due to population growth, water utilities across the nation are taking on new approaches to manage local water supplies and increase resilience. Through a "one water" approach, all water — drinking water, wastewater, stormwater, graywater, and more — is managed as a resource that should be utilized and valued across all stages of the water cycle. As utility leaders, city officials, and the general public embrace innovative, integrated, and inclusive approaches to water use, the opportunity to utilize alternate water sources (e.g., roof runoff, stormwater, foundation water, blackwater, and graywater) for non- potable uses is great. Water that we normally let run down our drains or through our streets into receiving waters has untapped potential to meet non-potable needs such as cooling buildings, irrigating landscapes, and flushing toilets, and offset valuable potable water supplies. The key is applying the right water to the right use. On-site non-potable water systems are changing the way we think about matching water supplies with the right use. On-site non- potable water systems collect wastewater, stormwater, rainwater, and more and treat it so that it can be reused in a building or at the local scale for non-potable needs. These systems are usually integrated into the city's larger water and wastewater systems, while providing more sustainable management of water. What originally began as a response to drought-driven conservation needs in urban cities, on-site non-potable water systems have increasingly gained interest as an element of long-term, resilient, and sustainable water supply planning. Other benefits can include stormwater pollution reduction, extending the capacity of existing infrastructure, potential reduction in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from collecting and treating water at the source, and environmental stewardship. If proven technology is available and the benefits are evident, why, then, haven't we seen more widespread implementation of these systems? Breaking Barriers First, communities are challenged by the lack of guidance on how to develop permitting processes, management, and oversight programs for these systems. That's why the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) convened the Innovation in Urban Water Systems meeting in May 2014 with support from the Water Research Foundation (WRF) and the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) to share knowledge and best practices, discuss barriers in implementing on-site non-potable water systems, and identify model programs to learn from. The meeting was the first of its kind, bringing together a range of water utilities, public health agencies, and research institutions from across North America to develop recommendations to help communities overcome policy barriers to implementation. The meeting led to the development of the Blueprint for Onsite Water Systems: A Step-by-Step Guide for Developing a Local Program to Manage Onsite Water Systems. The Innovation in Urban Water Systems meeting also uncovered that the most critical issue communities face with implementing and scaling on-site non-potable water systems is the lack of guidance on developing water quality standards and monitoring strategies to adequately protect public health. Currently, there are no national standards or guidelines for on-site non-potable water systems in the U.S. While some states may have limited standards in place today, there is wide variation in existing water quality criteria. To further chip away at this barrier, we partnered with National Water Research Institute (NWRI) to develop recommendations and guidance for treatment requirements that ensure public health protections and to develop a management framework for the appropriate use of on-site treated water for non-potable applications. NWRI convened an Independent Advisory Panel to establish recommended strategies and standards for management, monitoring, permitting, and reporting by using a risk-based approach that was protective of public health. The research was published by WRF and the Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (WE&RF) as Risk- Based Framework for the Development of Public Health Guidance for Decentralized Non-potable Water Systems. 8 wateronline.com n Water Innovations Overcoming The Barriers To On-Site Treatment And Reuse The path to on-site non-potable water reuse has been beset by roadblocks, but a new initiative is removing them to clear the way for more efficient water management.

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