Boost savings with water reuse

Cities with a water reuse program can save big.


Power companies and resorts may seem different, but they both use lots of water. To keep costs down and help ensure a sustainable supply, some large water users have started purchasing reuse water - wastewater that's treated to be used again.

Reuse water can be treated to a wide variety of grades, ranging from high-purity process water to reuse water for irrigation of golf courses.

"Let's be clear," said Veolia North America's Patrick Corbett, in discussing water reuse. "If a golf course doesn't purchase reuse water, it means it's using drinking water for irrigation, which is expensive. We make approximately 3 million gallons a day of reuse water available to local customers, so they don't have to do that." Corbett is a Veolia project manager who works at the Oklahoma City wastewater facility, managed under a public-private partnership with Veolia.
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Under the terms of the partnership, the city's municipal water facilities provide reuse water for area businesses. The plants supply non-potable water to area electric companies for use in cooling towers and to a local golf community for watering the course and green areas.

Often, reuse water isn't treated to potable water standards, but this doesn't always matter when large consumers like golf courses don't need water of such high quality. Oklahoma City charges its reuse water customers substantially less for reuse water than for drinking water. In fact, their reuse water costs roughly 33% less, meaning that utilities and resorts can incur big savings, depending on their water use.

Providing large water users with reuse water also saves ratepayers money. When reuse water is treated to a lower level than drinking water, it requires fewer chemicals and less energy. This reduces the costs to ratepayers, who foot the cost of chemicals and energy in water and wastewater rates.

"It's really a no-brainer," said Corbett. "If a large water customer doesn't need water treated to drinking-water quality, why spend ratepayer money treating it to that level?"

Oklahoma City's water reuse program is one of three different effluent reuse programs the city and Veolia have put into place. Water is provided for two electrical utilities, Oklahoma Gas & Electric (OG&E) and Redbud. It's also provided to Gaillardia, a golf-course community. All told, the three reuse programs save the city more than 1 billion gallons of drinking water annually.

Water reuse, proactive management of assets and strong environmental stewardship has kept water rates stable and made the most of Oklahoma City's water resources. Since the contract with Veolia took effect in 1985, the partnership has saved residents more than $150 million and contributed to the community's industrial growth and commercial and residential development. The contract was recently renewed for another six years.

For its part, Veolia provides operations/maintenance services as part of its contract with the city. The company's 69-person staff has responsibility for an 80-MGD tertiary activated sludge wastewater treatment plant, 6-MGD sequencing batch reactor plant, 10-MGD tertiary activated sludge plant, 15 MGD RBC activated sludge plant and 75-MGD Witcher Pump Station. In all, the plants can process a combined 106 million gallons per day of residential and commercial wastewater in a cost-effective manner.

Veolia North America helps communities and companies reuse water, from Florida to the West Coast to Honolulu. If you're looking for a partner that can help you implement a water reuse program, contact us at 312-552-2800 or e-mail us  and we can help answer your questions.

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