Article courtesy of Environmental Technology Online | July 10, 2014 | Environmental Technology Online | Shared as educational material
Wichita Falls, Texas, US, has now started to recycle wastewater into drinking water, reports the Associated Press. In a state-approved project, wastewater is being purified to standards that make it safe for human consumption in an effort to bolster drinking water supplies because many areas of Texas deal with drought conditions.
The River Road waste Treatment plant started using a purification that complies with US government drinking standards on Wednesday (July 9th). Once the wastewater undergoes treatment at the plant, it is then transported via a 12-mile pipeline to the Cypress Water Treatment Plant for the final stages of purification.
This project has been approved by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for a period of six months. Millions of gallons of wastewater have already gone through the process, which will supply huge amounts of drinking grade water to Wichita Falls.
Similar projects have been implemented in other areas of Texas in an effort to combat water shortages brought on by dry weather. The city of Brownwood has been given permission for a scheme that will see up to 1.5 million gallons of wastewater treated to drinking standards everyday; however, it has not yet started the project. The town of Big Spring has set up an indirect potable reuse program to supplement water supplies.
Currently, Wichita Falls has implemented a Stage Five drought catastrophe due to extreme water shortages. This means that residents are having to conserve as much water, with activities like outdoor watering being banned. The rules have seen water demand in the city fall by 45 per cent, according to city manager Darron Leiker.
Despite this, reservoirs in the city could still run dry by August 2016, according to the Texas Water Development Board. The area requires drinking water for around 150,000 people; however, supplies from the city’s reservoirs have dropped from almost 90 per cent capacity since the end of 2010, which is when the drought started, to only 20 per cent at the end of June this year.
The new scheme follows on from unsuccessful attempts at cloud-seeding to bring on rain. The city is also considering implementing a polymer coat over the surface of local reservoirs to reduce evaporation; however, a recent test did not give the desired results.