Reuse of Municipal Wastewater and Development of New Technology

Emphasis and Direction Needed Gao ID: CED-78-177 November 13, 1978

The Clean Water Act of 1977 requires that alternative wastewater treatment methods, including land application, must be evaluated during facilities planning before an agency grant is made for a wastewater treatment plant.

Even though new technologies for the treatment and reuse of wastewater are available, they have not been used extensively because: they provide treatment levels higher than needed to meet requirements; some are more costly than conventional methods; and program participants are unwilling to risk failure. Land application could provide benefits such as eliminating point discharges to surface waters, higher levels of treatment than provided by conventional secondary methods, and replenishment of groundwater. However, it has not been widely used because of stringent state pretreatment requirements, limited technical and health effects information, and unavailability of suitable land. Recycled wastewater may be used for several industrial, municipal, and recreational purposes. However, only a few wastewater reuse projects have been funded, because the use of reclaimed wastewater is generally not cost effective and concerns over recycled wastewater discourage potential users. There is no clear Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) policy on the funding of wastewater reclamation.


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