News Feature | May 15, 2017

Even This Water-Rich State May Consider DPR

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome


Minnesota is often called the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Yet even in this relatively water-rich state, officials are considering a more expansive role for water reuse. 

“Wastewater is highly regulated due to the potential public health risks, but Minnesota lacks a comprehensive policy to guide the web of agencies with jurisdiction over its reuse. Interest in the topic prompted the legislature in 2015 to direct state officials to explore the creation of a state water reuse policy,” the Star Tribune reported

Direct potable reuse (DPR) remains a ways off in this state, but some stakeholders are discussing the possibility. 

“There would need to be treatment standards, water-quality requirements and operator requirements, as well as an understanding of how this process would work with Minnesota’s geology and water chemistry,” said Anita Anderson, a principal engineer at the Minnesota Department of Health, per the Star Tribune

Pressure on the water supply could hasten the push for DPR in the coming years. 

“In Minnesota, [we’re] still thought of as a relatively water-rich state,” said Randy Thorson, a principal engineer at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, per the report. “As things change in the future, that could cause us to look even more closely at these things.”

DPR is already in use overseas. A plant in Windhoek, Namibia, is the longest-running DPR project in the world, operating since 1968, according to a presentation by WateReuse California, an industry group that promotes recycled water. 

California is in the process of considering whether to permit DPR. Stakeholders had until the end of December to comment on a draft report before it was submitted to the state legislature, according to a release from the California Water Resources Control Board. 

Arizona is also taking steps toward allowing DPR as the state works to confront its pressing water-supply challenges.

Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Senior Hydrologist Chuck Graf said in January that state regulators are likely to propose allowing DPR within six months, according to the Arizona Daily Star. He said the state will “hopefully” approve an initial set of permitting rules and standards in 2017. Arizona made DPR unallowable when it began regulating wastewater in 1982.

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