California Drought Summit focuses on reinventing urban water for potable reuse

UPDATE: Executive Summary now available for download.

Nearly 200 water environment professionals, academics, scientists, and government leaders recently attended the California Drought Summit on May 11, 2015 in Sacramento, CA. The Summit, hosted by CWEA, WateReuse California, and the National Science Foundation ReNUWIt Research Center, presented before regulators and legislators the value of new water partnerships for California, technological capabilities of direct potable reuse and regulatory opportunities to expand recycled water use as a locally sustainable long term water supply for California.

For years, hundreds of thousands of Californians have been drinking “potable reuse water” — highly purified, advanced treated recycled water. But as California suffers through one of the worst droughts in its history, “potable reuse” is increasingly being considered a sustainable water supply solution for the state.

Participants were provided with an overview of California’s drought forecast, information on Urban Water Recycling for direct potable reuse, Regulatory Overview for Recycled Water, and how Texas is using direct potable reuse to address their drought.

“Many cities in the West face a mounting crisis of increasing water scarcity driven by climate change, population growth, ecosystem demands and deteriorating infrastructure” says Eric Hansen, President of the Santa Clara Valley Section of CWEA and the mastermind behind this event. “California water agencies must work together to address more sustainable urban water use and reuse management solutions. Water sustainability requires a new vision of engineered water infrastructure that are more resilient to pressures that are not in our control, like climate change.”

The workshop also highlighted collaborative research led by ReNUWIt — a National Science Foundation collaboration among UC Berkeley, Colorado School of Mines, New Mexico State University, and Stanford University – that focused on identifying and developing more sustainable solutions to urban water use, reuse and water infrastructure management.

The following key principles were discussed:

  • The importance of sharing successful water recycling strategies with other communities.
  • Increasing public awareness that our wastewater collection and treatment systems have always been the source of our drinking water supply.
  • The importance of public transparency as demonstrated by the successful potable reuse project in Wichita Falls, Texas.
  • Recognizing the difference between acceptance and legitimacy of using available technologies and natural processes to advance water reuse.
  • Understanding that “potable reuse” is the most direct way to describe recovering our drinking water supplies.
  • Realizing that sustainable water supplies embrace the 4R’s of Reliability, Redundancy, Robustness, and Resilience.
  • Recognizing our water laws need to be updated and periodically reviewed to assure their adequacy.
  • Understanding the importance of consistent messaging from trusted sources outside our circle.

The speakers listed below have provided their presentations from the event.

  1. R. Rhodes Trussell, Trussell Technologies, Inc.: Potable Reuse: How Can It Improve our Urban Water Supply
  2. David L. Sedlak, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley: Potable Water Reuse: Opportunities and Challenges
  3. Cindy Forbes, Division of Drinking Water State Water Resources Control Board: Water Recycling: Where Do We Go From Here?
  4. Martha Davis, Inland Empire Utilities Agency: Opportunities for Regulation
  5. Bill Croyle, Statewide Emergency Preparedness and Security Department of Water Resources: Drought Forecast

View the agenda here.

We thank the following sponsors who made this event possible:

American Water Works Association California-Nevada Section (CA-NV AWWA)
Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA)
California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA)
California Water Environment Association (CWEA)
California WateReuse
CWEA Los Angeles Basin Section
CWEA Sacramento Area Section
CWEA San Francisco Bay Section
CWEA Santa Clara Valley Section
San Francisco Public Utilities Commission – Hetch Hetchy Regional water System
Inland Empire Utilities Agency
Regional SAN
San Diego County Water Authority
San Elijo Joint Powers Authority
Santa Clara Valley Water District
Silicon Valley Clean Water
Sonoma County Water Agency
State of California Department of Water Resources
Water Environment Federation (WEF)

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