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Equivalency of Advanced Treatment Trains for Potable Reuse

Project: 11-02 (Phase 3)
Year Released: 2015
Product: Decision Making Tool

Program: Principal
Funding Partners: Bureau of Reclamation, H20 Engineering, Upper San Gabriel Water District
Total Investment: $1,750,232 (Cash: $565,000, In-Kind cash and service: $1,185,232)

Principal Investigator: R. Rhodes Trussell, Ph.D., Trussell Technologies


Direct potable reuse is now seen as an eventual necessity for securing reliable water supplies. However, technical and psychological barriers impede the use of direct potable reuse. One such barrier is the lack of agreed-upon criteria for product water quality to protect public health. The absence of such criteria has not only limited the understanding of possible treatment trains and associated reliability measures that are needed to ensure public health and safety, but has also limited the number of treatment options being accepted for any kind of potable reuse. Furthermore, it remains uncertain whether a well-designed direct potable reuse system is preferable to an intentional or unintentional indirect potable reuse system for maintaining potable water quality.

Goals and Objectives

The project considers whether and when potable water is better achieved through active management and control in a direct potable reuse system rather than through the less active controls of an unplanned indirect potable reuse system. This project is also intended to facilitate robust analysis of the treatment steps sufficient for safe direct potable reuse.

This project clearly identifies the benefits and tradeoffs of various treatment process trains for potable reuse. The goals of this project are to:

  • Consider and examine criteria needed to evaluate the adequacy of treatment for direct and indirect potable reuse,
  • Develop a model that can allow for comparisons of alternate treatment trains for potable reuse, and
  • Test at least one advanced treatment train for direct potable reuse at a scale large enough to give information on real operating conditions.

Research Approach

The first phase of this project was to gather key reuse and public health experts to hold a comprehensive workshop to discuss current and future regulations related to IPR and DPR. A state of the science report was released with a set of criteria that are protective of public health to evaluate treatment technologies for DPR.

Once the “state of the science” has been established, the project team will develop a toolbox of unit process models that can be combined to simulate integrated treatment trains. Finally, at least one alternative treatment train developed with the help of the toolbox will be validated at pilot-, near-full-scale, or full-scale. In collaboration with utility partners, additional sampling will be performed at existing IPR facilities to aid in evaluating treatment alternatives and identifying appropriate treatment trains for DPR.

The results of an Expert Panel workshop conducted by the National Water Research Institute developed microbial and chemical constituent criteria deemed to be protective of public health. The results of this workshop and report have been used to inform the evaluations of DPR treatment processes that are being evaluated as part of this project.

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