Return to ASDWA's Newsroom

Water Reuse Workshop

ASDWA and six states (AK, IL, MN, TX, VA, WA) attended a workshop on water reuse in Chicago this week sponsored by the American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE).  The purpose of the workshop was to bring together organizations working on consensus standards related to water reuse and “users” of reclaimed water, gray water, stormwater, black water, and rainwater.  The standards developers shared information about the standards under development or already in place and the users identified gaps and areas of overlap that need to be addressed.  State drinking water programs are especially interested in rainwater catchments that are often proposed for potable use.  ASDWA’s original involvement in these issues was due to comments submitted by ASDWA and some states on ASPE Standard 63 on rainwater catchments that included both potable and nonpotable uses.  Even standards covering strictly nonpotable water are of interest to drinking water programs because of the potential for cross connections.  Also, there are potential public health impacts of nonpotable uses due to human contact with water that could still contain contaminants.
Groups presenting information on standards included:

  • ASPE and the American Rainwater Catchment System Association (ARCSA) on Standard 63 for Rainwater Catchment Systems and Standard 78 for Stormwater Harvesting Systems
  • American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) on Standard 802 on water reuse for landscape irrigation
  • International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) on the Uniform Plumbing Code, Standard for Alternate Source Systems, and Green Standards
  • International Codes Council (ICC) on the International Plumbing Code
  • NSF on NSF 350 for onsite reuse treatment systems
  • US Green Building Council on LEED certification including water use reduction and innovative wastewater technology
  • ASPE on ISO Standard 282 on water reuse

The “users” also offered their perspectives:

  • Water Reuse Association – focus primarily on use of reclaimed municipal wastewater
  • ASDWA – regulatory implications of potable use
  • National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) – local regulation of decentralized water and wastewater systems
  • AWWA – associated AWWA standards including G481 on reclaimed water operations and maintenance
  • Water Quality Association (WQA) – certifying efficacy for chemical treatment systems (POU/POE) and providing training and certification for operation of these treatment systems
  • ARCSA – supporting rainwater for nonpotable and potable use

Sam Perry of Washington’s Department of Health delivered an excellent presentation on the state drinking water program perspective. He gave some SDWA background to an audience where these requirements may not be well known.  He explained that potable use brings these systems under the SDWA with many more legal requirements, not just voluntary standards or models to follow.  He stressed the need for state drinking water programs to be more directly involved in standards that include potable water.  ASPE agrees and has offered ASDWA a spot on the committee developing Standard 63.  A number of gaps and needs were identified during the presentations and subsequent discussions.  Some of the more significant include:

  • Because of the definitions in the Surface Water Treatment Rule, rainwater has to be classified as surface water, which brings in many additional requirements for its use as a potable supply — many would support a third category between groundwater band surface water.
  • Lack of any comprehensive national standards leaves many decisions to local jurisdictions where there is reluctance to approve new technology, especially on potable use.
  • There is no consistency in terminology or definitions across the various standards.
  • Lack of water quality criteria in the standards for water reuse is a major issue, whether for potable or nonpotable use.  An initiative started by the city of San Francisco my lead to a set of consensus water quality standards.
  • These standards may do an adequate job of assuring the design and installation of reuse systems but ongoing maintenance is a problem and building owners need to take more responsibility.
  • What is the impact of reuse, especially if widely adopted, on downstream water quantity and quality?

As the organizations involved work to address these and other challenges in the water reuse arena, specific projects may develop where state drinking water programs can play a role.  ASDWA will keep states informed and pass along opportunities for participation.