The Water Research Foundation recently awarded contracts for three water reuse projects: Evaluating Economic and Environmental Benefits of Water Reuse for Agriculture (Reuse-16-06), FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule: Opportunities and Impacts on Potential Water Reuse for Agricultural Irrigation (Reuse-16-07), and Demonstrating Real-Time Collection System Monitoring as Part of Enhanced Source Control for Potable Reuse (WRF-17-30).

Reuse-16-06, awarded to the Pacific Institute, will quantify the non-monetized costs and benefits of water reuse relative to alternative supplies for advancing beneficial reuse of municipal wastewater. The primary research objectives are to enumerate the direct and indirect economic, environmental, and social costs and benefits associated with municipal recycled water; develop a framework for categorizing and ranking the significance of the quantifiable and non-quantifiable benefits and costs of non-traditional water sources; and develop outreach tools with agricultural sector partners to communicate the value of utilizing non-traditional water sources. The goal is to help growers and municipalities develop a quantitative understanding of the economic benefits and costs of different water sources and identify mechanisms for incentivizing their use.

The safety of recycled water used in the production of crops is critical, especially for raw-eaten crops. The FDA FSMA Produce Safety Rule includes standards for agricultural water, both for production and post-harvest uses. Reuse-16-07 will examine the nuances of FSMA coverage, application, variances, etc. that might involve uses of recycled water in agriculture.

The research team of Bahman Sheikh Water Reuse Consulting will interview representatives of regulatory agencies in California, Florida, Oregon, Vermont, North Carolina, and other states where recycled water is used for agricultural irrigation. The team will use this information to identify trends, similarities, innovative approaches, as well as any gaps that will inform future research. The final product will guide recycled water producers and agricultural users of recycled water through the regulatory system.

WRF-17-30, awarded to Carollo Engineers, Inc., will provide a novel proof of concept evaluation of real-time wastewater collection monitoring systems as a part of enhanced source control programs for potable reuse using a distributed sensor network. The full-scale demonstration will take place within partner utilities’ collection systems at Ventura Water and El Paso Water. The approach is to use real-time monitoring technology to develop baseline raw wastewater quality sensor data, track changes in raw wastewater quality, and respond with an alarm and triggered collection of an automated sample if a raw wastewater quality change is detected.

The projects are anticipated to be completed by 2020.

The Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (now The Water Research Foundation), a 501c3 non-profit organization, funds research, pilot projects, and technology demonstrations that maximize the value of water, including wastewater, stormwater, and other water sources. WE&RF is recognized worldwide as a trusted source of innovation and peer-reviewed research in wastewater, water reuse, and resource recovery.