The Search for Economical Water Reuse in the Desert Southwest
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The Search for Economical Water Reuse in the Desert Southwest Paul Blowers Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering The University of Arizona. Water needs for population and sustainable growth worldwide.

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The Search for Economical Water Reuse in the Desert Southwest

Paul Blowers

Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering

The University of Arizona


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Water needs for population and sustainable growth worldwide Southwest

The availability of clean water is already a major issue, and will become a ‘water crises’ if we do not act urgently

Access to Water Remains Insufficient, Especially for thePoor

  • Access to water is far from being a given, and often over-estimated

  • In many parts of the world, access to water also distinguishes the poor from the non-poor.


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Issues specific to the Desert Southwest Southwest

  • Populations are growing rapidly in states such as Nevada, Arizona, and California

  • There are no readily available sources of new water supplies in many many of these areas

  • Reuse meets the needs of industrial uses for non-potable supply and solves environmental discharge problems

  • Drought events such as the one experienced by more than half the country in 2002 debilitate available sources

  • Alternative sources of supply such as desalination are currently, in most cases, more expensive than water reuse.


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The Overall Goal of the Project (Your State Tax Dollars Hard at Work!)

  • Now, comprehensive tools to assist decision makers, educators, and the general public in recognizing the impact of management alternatives on water quantity, quality and cost are not available. Similarly, we lack educational tools to teach concepts of water resources, distribution, competing uses, and reclaim/reuse as a system.

  • We propose to fill these gaps by developing an integrated water management tool. Specifically, this research will develop a comprehensive decision support simulation model to aid management decisions, analyze trends, and perform “what if?” analyses.  


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Current Expertise and the Soldiers on the Front at Work!)

  • A group of the researchers from hydrology, chemical, environmental and civil engineering , as well as agriculture. We intend to create a dynamic model of water usage so that communities in AZ can plan for all of our needs.

  • Hydrology: expertise in riparian systems, runoff and infiltration

  • Chemical engineering: expertise in modeling the water cycle process, also in using life cycle assessment

  • Civil engineering: provide model coordination and water resources management

  • Environmental engineering: provide design in water and wastewater treatment

  • Agricultural and resource economics: provide economic insight - a economic model can be appended to the dynamic model to supply decision-maker one more tool to assess the situation.


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Our Primary Goals for the Industrial Water Reuse Modeling at Work!)

  • Premise: Water users affect water quality to different degrees, and have varying requirements on their supply.

  • For example, irrigation can employ lower quality water than is acceptable to residential consumers for some quality measures. In the future, residential point of use water treatment may alter this balance. Industrial water users are of particular importance when water quality is a water-use criterion. Their demand for high quality water often requires in-house treatment before or after use. Optimizing industrial operations can reduce their overall costs and produce a potential new water resource.

  • Our part of the project is to create a model of representative industrial facilities important in Arizona so that these sub-models can be incorporated into the overall model of all water usage.


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Why Your Tax Dollars Haven't Gone Far Yet…On This at Work!)

• Inefficiency of the designed water recycle facility.

• Education to the public is not powerful enough to lead people to use recycled water - "Oh, Icky reclaimed water!"

• Water is being used faster then the water cycle can restore it.

• Treated water is often subsidized, exacerbating the problem.

• Groundwater and surface water sources have become polluted and can no longer be used without required extensive treatment.

• New water sources often involve pumping water long distances, desalination, wastewater reuse, and or rationing.





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Hospital Water in General: Water Qualities at Work!)

Hospital waste water effluent has many constituents that need to be treated before post-hospital use:

antibiotic agents

unmetabolized pharmaceuticals

pathogens and other biologic agents

endocrine disruptors

X-ray processing effluents


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Hospital Water in Specific: Why do Antibiotics Matter? at Work!)

Science, September 2001, Vol 293, 1786-1790.


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We're Stuck - We Need Representative Water Quality Data from Sample Medical Facilities to Address Water Quality

  • How can we classify water of different water qualities to identify reuse opportunities?

  • --- Comprehensive water quality data for influent sand effluents is needed to meet with the minimum treatment requirement before reuse

  • How can water be reused within or outside hospital?

  • --- Match the water quality data and consumption needs of different industrial sectors


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Acknowledgments Sample Medical Facilities to Address Water Quality

Funding for this work was provided by the NSF/SCR Engineering Research Center for Environmentally Benign Semiconductor Manufacturing


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Contact Information: Sample Medical Facilities to Address Water Quality

[email protected]

626-5319


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