Water Environment Federation (WEF)

Water Reuse Alternatives in Southern New Jersey

Water reclamation and reuse can be a valuable resource in cities or towns that are challenged by population growth, contamination of surface water and groundwater, uneven distribution of water resources, and frequent droughts caused by extreme global weather patterns. In addition to easing the strain on limited freshwater supplies, the reuse of wastewater can improve the quality of streams and lakes by reducing the effluent discharges that they receive. Urban use of reclaimed wastewater includes irrigation of parks, recreation areas, highway medians and shoulders, and toilet flushing in commercial and public buildings. Reclaimed water is ideal for many industries especially as cooling water, boiler-feed water and process water when potable water is needed. Habitat restoration and recreational use of reclaimed water range from maintenance of landscape ponds and ornamental fountains to creation of marshland to serve as wildlife habitat. Groundwater recharge using reclaimed water is carried out in order to establish saltwater intrusion barriers in coastal aquifers, to treat reclaimed water further for future use, to augment aquifers and to provide storage. Agricultural irrigation is the biggest fraction of the total fresh water demand (Asano and Levine, 1998). Mostly reuse systems supply reclaimed wastewater for agricultural irrigation. Thus water reclamation and reuse provides a unique and viable opportunity to augment traditional water supplies.

The state of New Jersey has recently become active in promoting wastewater reuse. The importance of reclaimed water for beneficial reuse (RWBR) became significant during the drought of 1999 in New Jersey. During the drought period many wastewater treatment plants received authorization to reuse their treated effluent for various beneficial reuse applications. Several facilities have now built in effluent reuse as part of their NJPDES permit. Reclaimed wastewater is being considered now as a valuable resource by municipalities, industries, and county parks. To promote the reuse process, the operators of the New Jersey Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NJPDES) have considered lowering permitting fees for facilities that will implement reclaimed water for beneficial reuse (RWBR) program (Grob, 2004).

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