The U.S. EPA has released details about a “Water Reuse Action Plan” meant to encourage water recycling through facilitated discussions between federal and state stakeholders and the treatment sector.
“The Nation’s water resources are the lifeblood of our communities, and the federal government has the responsibility to ensure all Americans have access to reliable sources of clean and safe water,” EPA’s assistant administrator for water, David Ross, said in a news release about the plan. “There is innovative work happening across the water sector to advance water reuse, and the EPA wants to accelerate that work through coordinated federal leadership.”
When it refers to “water reuse,” the EPA explained that it takes a fairly broad definition. Through the plan, it wants to encourage water recycling — the act of treating wastewater and reusing it without discharging into natural bodies — for agriculture, groundwater replenishment, industrial processes, and in potable applications. It hopes to accomplish this by shepherding technological improvements, regulatory analysis, financial initiative expansion, the introduction of performance requirements, and wider availability of water use data.
Critically, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) will participate in the program to address water supply and resiliency in the western United States.
“The Department of the Interior is excited about forging this partnership with EPA so that we can leverage each other’s success and move forward on one path,” DOI’s assistant secretary for water and science, Tim Petty, said in the release. “Communities across the country are facing water shortages, and it is the role of the federal government to ensure that all have reliable access to the water needed to protect human health and maintain our robust economy.”
Indeed, the EPA’s new water reuse plan seems to have buy-in and momentum from all levels of the federal government. Recently, the White House released a comprehensive article about the country’s water supply. Therein, the water reuse action plan received special attention.
“From recycling treated wastewater to finding new applications for water produced from oil and gas extraction, there is innovative work happening across the water sector and EPA’s Water Reuse Action Plan will be the first initiative of this magnitude that is coordinated across the water sector,” per the White House.
It’s still too early to tell what tangible results will come of the new plan. But clearly the advancements around wastewater recycling and the importance of this critical resource is now being acknowledged at the highest levels.