News Feature | March 1, 2019

Colorado City Latest To Adopt Direct Potable Reuse

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga

As sustainability becomes more critical and the technology for reusing wastewater more available, communities across the country are implementing direct potable reuse (DPR) treatment systems. A relatively small community in Colorado, along with several others dotted around the nation, are demonstrating an uptick in DPR implementation.

With consistent population growth and an increasingly strained water supply, Colorado faces water resources strains that are not unfamiliar around the rest of the country. In the town of Castle Rock, this strain has manifested itself in plans for DPR.

“Four and a half million gallons of surface water a day in the winter is treated at the Plum Creek Reclamation Authority’s wastewater treatment plant in Castle Rock,” per The Denver Channel. “Mark Marlowe, the Director of Castle Rock Water, said as soon as next year, the city’s wastewater purification system will turn toilet, drain and sink water into drinkable tap water.”

Sometimes pejoratively called a “toilet to tap” process, DPR is the process of directly converting wastewater into drinking water, without the environmental buffer of natural water bodies. This has marked advantages for water systems and consumers, as it can be more efficient and cost effective than traditional treatment systems. For years, the concept of DPR appeared unpalatable to the public, but now that dynamic seems to be changing.

“All water starts someplace,” Greg Baker, a representative of Aurora, CO, which has implemented a system to recapture river water, told The Denver Channel. “I think the challenge here for most people is that they have a connection between something that is not pleasant to something that is vital for safety and health.”

And that challenge is now being overcome in other communities across the country. The town of Big Spring, TX, implemented DPR over five years ago and can thank the system for continued access to drinking water.

“Big Spring was losing water to their buffer: surface reservoirs, which are basically man-made lakes,” according to WHYY. “But, thanks to toilet to tap, the District now saves 1.7 million gallons of water a day.”

Last year, Arizona became the first state to adopt a complete regulatory approach to DPR, according to Water Deeply. And Tampa Bay will soon vote on whether or not to implement a DPR plan, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

While there are certainly obstacles to overcome, DPR is proving its viability with each new project undertaken — a trend that will likely continue as water security concerns escalate.

For similar stories, visit Water Online’s Water Reuse Solutions Center.