Category Archives: Wastewater Reuse

Indirect Wastewater Reuse Along the Yangtze River, China

Wang Z, Shao D, Westerhoff P. Wastewater discharge impact on drinking water sources along the Yangtze River (China).Sci Total Environ. 2017 May 17;599-600:1399-1407. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.05.078.

Unplanned indirect (de facto) wastewater reuse occurs when wastewater is discharged into surface waters upstream of potable drinking water treatment plant intakes. This paper aims to predict percentages and trends of de facto reuse throughout the Yangtze River watershed in order to understand the relative contribution of wastewater discharges into the river and its tributaries towards averting water scarcity concerns. The Yangtze River is the third longest in the world and supports more than 1/15 of the world’s population, yet the importance of wastewater on the river remains ill-defined. Municipal wastewater produced in the Yangtze River Basin increased by 41% between 1998 and 2014, from 2580m3/s to 3646m3/s. Under low flow conditions in the Yangtze River near Shanghai, treated wastewater contributions to river flows increased from 8% in 1998 to 14% in 2014. The highest levels of de facto reuse appeared along a major tributary (Han River) of the Yangtze River, where de facto reuse can exceed 20%. While this initial analysis of de facto reuse used water supply and wastewater data from 110 cities in the basin and 11 gauging stations with >50years of historic streamflow data, the outcome was limited by the lack of gauging stations at more locations (i.e., data had to be predicted using digital elevation mapping) and lack of precise geospatial location of drinking water intakes or wastewater discharges. This limited the predictive capability of the model relative to larger datasets available in other countries (e.g., USA). This assessment is the first analysis of de facto wastewater reuse in the Yangtze River Basin. It will help identify sections of the river at higher risk for wastewater-related pollutants due to presence of-and reliance on-wastewater discharge that could be the focus of field studies and model predictions of higher spatial and temporal resolution.

Cryptosporidium Risks Associated with Potable Reuse

Amoueyan E, Ahmad S, Eisenberg JNS, Pecson B, Gerrity D. Quantifying pathogen risks associated with potable reuse: A risk assessment case study for Cryptosporidium. Water research 2017 Apr 19;119:252-266. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2017.04.048.

This study evaluated the reliability and equivalency of three different potable reuse paradigms: (1) surface water augmentation via de facto reuse with conventional wastewater treatment; (2) surface water augmentation via planned indirect potable reuse (IPR) with ultrafiltration, pre-ozone, biological activated carbon (BAC), and post-ozone; and (3) direct potable reuse (DPR) with ultrafiltration, ozone, BAC, and UV disinfection. A quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) was performed to (1) quantify the risk of infection from Cryptosporidium oocysts; (2) compare the risks associated with different potable reuse systems under optimal and sub-optimal conditions; and (3) identify critical model/operational parameters based on sensitivity analyses. The annual risks of infection associated with the de facto and planned IPR systems were generally consistent with those of conventional drinking water systems [mean of (9.4 ± 0.3) × 10-5 to (4.5 ± 0.1) × 10-4], while DPR was clearly superior [mean of (6.1 ± 67) × 10-9 during sub-optimal operation]. Because the advanced treatment train in the planned IPR system was highly effective in reducing Cryptosporidium concentrations, the associated risks were generally dominated by the pathogen loading already present in the surface water. As a result, risks generally decreased with higher recycled water contributions (RWCs). Advanced treatment failures were generally inconsequential either due to the robustness of the advanced treatment train (i.e., DPR) or resiliency provided by the environmental buffer (i.e., planned IPR). Storage time in the environmental buffer was important for the de facto reuse system, and the model indicated a critical storage time of approximately 105 days. Storage times shorter than the critical value resulted in significant increases in risk. The conclusions from this study can be used to inform regulatory decision making and aid in the development of design or operational criteria for IPR and DPR systems.

Water Conservation Limits Wastewater Reuse

Luckmann J, Grethe H, McDonald S. When water saving limits recycling: Modelling economy-wide linkages of wastewater use. Water Research. 2016 Jan 1;88:972-80. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2015.11.004.

The reclamation of wastewater is an increasingly important water source in parts of the world. It is claimed that wastewater recycling is a cheap and reliable form of water supply, which preserves water resources and is economically efficient. However, the quantity of reclaimed wastewater depends on water consumption by economic agents connected to a sewage system. This study uses a Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) model to analyse such a cascading water system. A case study of Israel shows that failing to include this linkage can lead to an overestimation of the potential of wastewater recycling, especially when economic agents engage in water saving.

Ventura, California Launches Wastewater Reuse Demonstration Facility

“As the drought worsens, California is looking for solutions on how to meet water needs, and one of those solutions is coming to the surface in our own backyard, at the new Water Pure Demonstration Facility in Ventura.” click here

Potable Water Reuse in California

Harris-Lovett S, Binz C, Sedlak DL, Kiparsky M, Truffer B. Beyond User Acceptance: A Legitimacy Framework for Potable Water Reuse in California. Environmental Science and Technology. 2015 Jun 1. 

Water resource managers often tout the potential of potable water reuse to provide a reliable, local source of drinking water in water-scarce regions. Despite data documenting the ability of advanced treatment technologies to treat municipal wastewater effluent to meet existing drinking water quality standards, many utilities face skepticism from the public about potable water reuse. Prior research on this topic has mainly focused on marketing strategies for garnering public acceptance of the process. This study takes a broader perspective on the adoption of potable water reuse based on concepts of societal legitimacy, which is the generalized perception or assumption that a technology is desirable or appropriate within its social context. To assess why some potable reuse projects were successfully implemented while others confronted fierce public opposition, we performed a series of 20 expert interviews and reviewed in-depth case studies from potable reuse projects in California. Results show that a legitimated potable water reuse project in Orange County, California engaged in a portfolio of strategies that addressed three main dimensions of legitimacy, while other proposed projects that faced extensive public opposition relied on a smaller set of legitimation strategies that focused near-exclusively on the development of robust water treatment technology. Widespread legitimation of potable water reuse projects, including direct potable water reuse, may require the establishment of a portfolio of standards, procedures and possibly new institutions.

Indirect Wastewater Reuse in the United States: Low Impact

Rice J, Westerhoff P. Spatial and Temporal Variation in De Facto Wastewater Reuse in Drinking Water Systems across the U.S.A. Environmental Science and Technology. 2014 Dec 29.

De facto potable reuse occurs when treated wastewater is discharged into surface waters upstream of potable drinking water treatment plant (DWTP) intakes. Wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) discharges may pose water quality risks at the downstream DWTP, but additional flow aids in providing a reliable water supply source. In this work de facto reuse is analyzed for 2056 surface water intakes serving 1210 DWTPs across the U.S.A. that serve greater than 10 000 people, covering approximately 82% of the nation’s population. An ArcGIS model is developed to assess spatial relationships between DWTPs and WWTPs, with a python script designed to perform a network analysis by hydrologic region. A high frequency of de facto reuse occurrence was observed; 50% of the DWTP intakes are potentially impacted by upstream WWTP discharges. However, the magnitude of de facto reuse was seen to be relatively low, where 50% of the impacted intakes contained less than 1% treated municipal wastewater under average streamflow conditions. De facto reuse increased greatly under low streamflow conditions (modeled by Q95), with 32 of the 80 sites yielding at least 50% treated wastewater, this portion of the analysis is limited to sites where stream gauge data was readily available.

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Micropollutants in Recycled Wastewater; Are They Harmfull?

Tang JY, Busetti F, Charrois JW, Escher BI. Which chemicals drive biological effects in wastewater and recycled water? Water Research 2014 Sep 1; Vol. 60, pp. 289-99.


Removal of organic micropollutants from wastewater during secondary treatment followed by reverse osmosis and UV disinfection was evaluated by a combination of four in-vitro cell-based bioassays and chemical analysis of 299 organic compounds. Concentrations detected in recycled water were below the Australian Guidelines for Water Recycling. Thus the detected chemicals were considered not to pose any health risk. The detected pesticides in the wastewater treatment plant effluent and partially advanced treated water explained all observed effects on photosynthesis inhibition. In contrast, mixture toxicity experiments with designed mixtures containing all detected chemicals at their measured concentrations demonstrated that the known chemicals explained less than 3% of the observed cytotoxicity and less than 1% of the oxidative stress response. Pesticides followed by pharmaceuticals and personal care products dominated the observed mixture effects. The detected chemicals were not related to the observed genotoxicity. The large proportion of unknown toxicity calls for effect monitoring complementary to chemical monitoring.

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