Home\Educate\Water Reuse 101\Research Projects\Year\2013\The Future of Purple Pipes: Exploring the Best Use of Nonpotable Recycled Water in Diversified Urban Water System

The Future of Purple Pipes: Exploring the Best Use of Nonpotable Recycled Water in Diversified Urban Water System

Project: 10-14
Year Released: 2013
Type: White Paper

Program: Principal
Funding Partners: Bureau of Reclamation, California State Water Resources Control Board, Water Services Association of Australia
Total Investment: $94,000 (Cash: $30,000, In-Kind: $64,000)

Principal Investigator: Dr. Gary Bickford, Nestis Consulting


This study was undertaken in the context of increasing diversity of water supplies (groundwater, recycled water, desalination, traditional stored water supplies, and potentially potable reuse) to ensure water security.

Goals and Objectives

The project explores the future of purple pipes (nonpotable recycled water reticulation/distribution systems) in Australia and the United States over the next 10 to 20 years.

Research Approach

The final report summarizes information from several water utilities that have dual water reticulation (distribution) systems regarding their current experiences with dedicated recycled water systems (or purple pipe schemes) used to deliver water to meet nonpotable demands. Purple pipe systems provide recycled water for industrial, landscape irrigation, or other demands not requiring potable-quality water, via a dedicated delivery system that is completely separated from the system used to deliver potable water. This research was not intended to be a comprehensive analysis of such schemes but to provide insights into current utility experience and case studies.

Findings and Conclusions

The research project consisted of three key elements. These were a survey of U.S. and Australian water utilities with purple pipe schemes, a number of case studies in the United States and Australia, and a review of current planning frameworks that adopt a sustainability or Triple Bottom Line (TBL) approach to assessing recycled water schemes.

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