Pure Liquid Gold: ADEQ presents plan for bolstering state’s supply of purified water
The recent announcement by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality of its “roadmap” for incorporating recycled water as part of Arizona’s supply of safe, reliable and purified water garnered a lot of headlines.
ADEQ’s guiding principles for AWP program implementation.
A lot of headlines.
You can guess what was emphasized: “Technology, toilets could make Arizona flush with drinking water.” There were a lot of those. In the often-prosaic world of headline writing, the ADEQ plan to enhance Arizona’s water supply provided some pure potty-humor gold.
In fact, this well-developed plan to enhance the state’s water supply – the Advanced Water Purification program - has the potential to provide a reliable source of purified water that can help alleviate water scarcity issues faced by Arizona.
“ADEQ’s vision for advanced water purification reflects our mission to protect and enhance public health and the environment in Arizona,” said ADEQ Cabinet Executive Officer Karen Peters.
“Water recovered and used via advanced water purification is a valuable resource that ADEQ will manage with protective regulations and forward-thinking goals informed by stakeholder and public input.”
Advanced Water Purification, or AWP, is defined as the treatment and distribution of a municipal wastewater stream for use as potable water without the use or with limited use of an environmental buffer. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, AWP has been shown to be a safe and effective source of potable water over decades of implementation. Projects have been installed worldwide at facilities in Big Spring, Texas (2013); Wichita Falls, Texas (2014); Namibia (1968 and 2002); Singapore (2019); and in South Africa (2011).
AWP Treatment and Distribution. Different configurations are possible for AWP. Original surface or groundwater may be blended with advanced treated water (ATW) treated in a WRF and AWTF. ATW may be blended into the distribution system prior to the DWTF, after the DWTF, or discharged into the distribution system without blending.
The plan’s “roadmap” emphasizes purifying water treatment and the removal of pathogens:
“ADEQ’s proposed treatment objectives and removal standards specific for implementing AWP use a risk management approach for pathogens and chemicals that meets or exceeds the standards of the Safe Drinking Water Act for conventional drinking water treatment facilities,” according to the Proposed Program Roadmap.
The schedule of the key milestones for the development and approval of the AWP program. This schedule is subject to change, based on comment from stakeholders and development of the proposes rules.
According to the roadmap, the Advanced Water Purification program “involves the operation of multiple complex and interrelated treatment and monitoring processes.
“Operations and maintenance procedures promote consistent operation at each treatment facility, thereby ensuring potable water meets all standards.”
ADEQ contends the program will also provide Arizona with a sustainable source of healthy drinking water to support the state's growing population and economy. Further, the agency believes that implementing AWP is an important step in ensuring the health and safety of the people of Arizona while protecting the environment.