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Water reuse in droughts and deserts




Gerak, Ed, author
Blankenship, Joe, author
U.S. Committee on Irrigation and Drainage, publisher

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Water reuse, particularly reuse of treated wastewater, has been in discussion for a number of decades as municipalities and farmers have viewed a valuable resource flowing back into the river after going through two or three levels of treatment. Resistance in reuse comes from a cultural idea of not reusing treated wastewater for drinking or growing edible crops, probably from the fear that it will transmit diseases from the water or contaminate foods grown with the water. There is also an objection to having animals grown for food drink the treated wastewater, fearing that they may catch diseases, or transmit diseases, from the water. This paper will present the experience of the Buckeye Water Conservation and Drainage District ("BWCDD" or the "District") in using treated wastewater from the largest wastewater treatment plant ("WWTP") in Phoenix, AZ. Approximately 65% of the water supply for the District comes from the WWTP. Agricultural crops using the water are restricted to fiber and animal feed. The area supports a large health dairy industry with nearly 20 operations and is one of the premier areas for growing fine Pima cotton. We will not argue for using WWTP water for food crops but rather address how water reuse from this source may substitute for scarce supplies of stored, ground or pumped water. BWCDD also uses its water resource for generation of electricity at a drop on one of its weirs, providing further reuse of its canals and water.


Presented at Irrigated agriculture responds to water use challenges - strategies for success: USCID water management conference held on April 3-6, 2012 in Austin, Texas.

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