Addressing water scarcity through recycling and reuse


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While governments in water scarce regions are looking for ways to expand water recycling and reuse, they often have difficulty finding information on the policy options from which they might choose. The purpose of this white paper is to provide such a menu of policy options, drawing on examples from around the world. While this is only a representative sample and does not provide an exhaustive list of programs and policies, the major types of policies being used to increase water recycling and reuse include the following:

Education and Outreach
• Recognition awards and certification programs
• Information dissemination and educational outreach efforts
• Reporting of water consumption, discharge, and reuse data

Removing Barriers
• Modifying local regulations that require that all water meet potable standards
• Revising plumbing codes to allow dual piping
• Alleviating stringent permitting and inspection requirements for recycled water

• Direct subsidies
• Reductions in payments to the government
• Payments for reintroduction of recovered water
• Pricing mechanisms
• Regulatory relief for recycled water users
• Government procurement of water recycling/reuse equipment
• Structuring of water rights to reduce the use of potable water

Mandates and Regulation
• Requiring utilities to develop plans for recycled water
• Restricting potable water to human or food related uses
• Requiring the use of recycled water for certain large volume activities, e.g., irrigation
• Requiring water recovery systems

This menu provides a valuable starting point for governments to evaluate the appropriate mix of policies that will best fit their needs. For some, tools applied elsewhere to one type of water use may be applied to a different use. For others, information will be enough to spur action; while for still others, financial incentives or regulatory requirements will
be more effective.

Water recycling and reuse is most common in communities that face limited water supplies. Many of their responses combine aggressive water conservation measures with water recycling initiatives to address current as well as future water scarcity.The purpose of this white paper is to help communities and other governmental authorities think through their options for increasing recycling and reuse of water in their area. The paper is built around a menu of policies that are being used in different locations, including efforts to:
• Provide more information on and recognition of water recycling and reuse efforts
• Reduce or remove regulatory or cost barriers that prevent more water reuse or recycling
• Provide financial, regulatory or other incentives for water recycling and reuse
• Require more water recycling and reuse

This menu offers a spectrum of policy tools ranging from less intensive mechanisms, such as making information available, to more proactive, regulatory approaches that require water reuse. Examples of how these policies are being applied in communities around the world are included below, as well as in a more detailed appendix at the end of this paper.

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