Home\Educate\Water Reuse 101\Research Projects\Year\2009\Decision Support System for Selection of Satellite versus Regional Treatment for Reuse Systems

Decision Support System for Selection of Satellite versus Regional Treatment for Reuse Systems

Project: 04-14
Type: Decision Making Tool
Year Released: 2009

Program: Principal
Funding Partners: Bureau of Reclamation, California State Water Resources Control Board, Malcolm Pirnie, City of Phoenix
Total Investment: $312,000 (Cash: $175,000 In Kind: $137,000)

Principal Investigator: Stephen Davis, Malcolm Pirnie, Inc.


As potable water costs increase and water supplies dwindle, communities are turning to advanced treatment systems that recycle and reuse wastewater as an alternative water source. For some utilities recharging reclaimed water for underground storage and indirect potable reuse, a regional plant may be the best solution. For other utilities, it may be cost-prohibitive to pump and distribute reclaimed wastewater for direct uses through miles of distribution lines from a centralized treatment plant. Consequently, utilities are more frequently considering satellite reclamation systems for water reuse as an alternative to expanding regional wastewater treatment facilities.

Goals and Objectives

The project developed the Decision Support System (DSS) tool, which provide a broadly applicable, standardized approach to evaluating satellite wastewater reclamation systems as an alternative to traditional regional wastewater reclamation facilities. The DSS is intended to support water, wastewater, or regional planning agencies in the United States in preliminary planning activities as an aid to the decision-making process where new treatment and distribution infrastructure is being considered for water reuse. It is intended for simplified formulation and evaluation of alternative reclamation systems.

Research Approach

The DSS project was accomplished in four major tasks, as follows:

  • Survey Current Knowledge Base
  • Conduct PAC and Utility Participant Workshop to Develop Decision Methodology and Assumptions
  • Develop the Decision Tool Structure and Databases-Test Application and Results
  • Develop User’s Guide

Findings and Conclusions

This project develops a spreadsheet-based tool to assist utilities in comparing the advantages of constructing a satellite wastewater treatment plant for reclaimed water use and those of using a regional wastewater treatment plant, with inherent distance and elevation concerns of direct users. The flexible tool allows users to develop and apply weights to customized ranking criteria for economic and noneconomic evaluations.

The DSS consists of a customized Microsoft Excel workbook with dynamically interactive worksheets that calculate relative, planning-level costs of user-defined satellite and regional reuse system alternatives. An enhanced user interface guides the user to input data, select treatment options, define a simplified distribution system, and apply weighted decision criteria to compare the two alternatives.

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