The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on February 27 the development of a Water Reuse Action Plan that will leverage the expertise of both industry and government to ensure the effective use of the nation’s water resources.
The Water Reuse Action Plan will seek to foster water reuse as an important component of integrated water resource management. The EPA will facilitate discussions among federal, state, and water sector stakeholders, and form new partnerships to develop and deploy the plan. A draft of the plan is scheduled for release and public review in September at the Annual WateReuse Symposium in San Diego.
The EPA’s actions are part of a larger effort by the administration to better coordinate and focus taxpayer resources on some of the nation’s most challenging water resource concerns, including ensuring water availability and mitigating the risks posed by droughts. This includes working closely with the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other federal partners to collaboratively address western water supply, resiliency, and other resource management challenges.
Water reuse — sometimes referred to as water recycling — may be viable for various applications, depending on site-specific conditions. Examples include agriculture and irrigation, potable water supplies, groundwater replenishment, industrial processes, and environmental restoration.
In developing the Water Reuse Action Plan, the EPA and its partners will evaluate these and other opportunities for reuse to identify the opportunities and challenges in the following areas:
- Technological improvements, including development, piloting, validation, and data considerations
- Regulatory/policy analysis at all levels of government, including public health considerations and addressing barriers to progress
- Financial initiatives, including expansion and clarity in available funding mechanisms
- Performance requirements, including efforts to ensure the quality of reused water is appropriate for the intended purpose
- Access to water use and availability data, including the encouragement of watershed-based information sharing
- Outreach opportunities, including efforts to ensure public understanding of reused water as part of integrated water management.
The EPA has previously supported water reuse efforts, including development of the 2017 Potable Reuse Compendium and Guidelines for Water Reuse, but the Water Reuse Action Plan is the first initiative of this magnitude that is coordinated across the water sector. Ongoing efforts by other federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Energy’s Grand Water Security Challenge, and by various nongovernmental organizations dedicated to water resources management, will be coordinated and leveraged as part of the overarching strategy to advance water reuse.