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Framework for Direct Potable Reuse

Project: 14-20
Type: White Paper
Year Released: 2015

Program: Principal
Funding Partners: American Water Works Association, Water Environment Federation
Total Investment: $70,000

Independent Advisory Panel (Administered by National Water Research Institute): Dr. George Tchobanoglous of the University of California, Davis; Dr. Joseph Cotruvo of Joseph Cotruvo & Associates; Environmental Engineering Consultant Dr. James Crook; Dr. Ellen McDonald of Alan Plummer Associates; Dr. Adam Olivieri of EOA, Inc.; Andrew Salveson of Carollo Engineers; and Dr. R. Shane Trussell of Trussell Technologies, Inc.


Prolonged and severe droughts, along with other factors, have made water supplies increasingly scarce in the Southwest and other regions of the United States, as well as elsewhere around the globe. In this context, considerable interest exists in water reuse in general and potable water reuse in particular. A framework document was developed by a panel of experts to provide information about the value of direct potable reuse (DPR) as a water supply option and what is needed to implement a DPR program.

DPR involves state-of-the art advanced water treatment technologies, like membranes, reverse osmosis, and advanced oxidation, to remove viruses, bacteria, chemicals, and other contaminants that may be present in wastewater. Although these advanced technologies have been proven to produce water that meets all drinking water standards, regulations and guidance on DPR do not yet exist in the U.S. Until guidelines and regulations are prepared, this framework document can serve as a valuable resource to municipalities, utilities, and agencies interested in implementing DPR programs to augment community water supplies.

Research Approach

This framework document was developed through a collaborative effort between WateReuse, the American Water Works Association, and the Water Environment Federation through an independent advisory panel administered by the National Water Research Institute. The panel convened over a period of almost two years to identify the subject areas and topics that future DPR guidelines will need to address and prepare the final document.

This framework represents a consensus among the panel, while taking into consideration input from a Project Advisory Committee comprised of technical experts in water and wastewater treatment, as well as state and federal regulators.

Findings and Conclusions

The Framework document provides a context for DPR, including the costs, benefits, energy requirements, and comparative issues with other water sources and measures. Following this introduction, three key components of a DPR program are examined: (1) regulatory considerations (e.g., measures to mitigate public health risks); (2) technical issues related to the production of advanced treated water; and (3) public support and outreach.

Chapters are also included on source control to limit contaminants in wastewater, treatment processes for wastewater and advanced water treatment, monitoring and controls to ensure that treatment processes perform properly, management of advanced treated water and residuals, and facility operation. A final chapter is devoted to future regulatory, technical, and public outreach needs.

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