ADEQ seeks input on purification system to treat wastewater for consumption for Arizonans
Nov 15, 2023, 4:35 AM
PHOENIX — Arizonans could be drinking wastewater by next winter.
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality released its Advanced Water Purification roadmap and is seeking input from stakeholders through Dec. 2.
The state currently uses reclaimed water on golf courses and lawns, but the AWP roadmap will set the standards for utilities and other companies to treat wastewater for human consumption.
“As we continue to face a historic drought coupled with record growth in our region, we must continue to innovate new strategies to sustain and maximize our water supply,” Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said.
ADEQ Water Quality Deputy Director Randy Matas said the roadmap was designed by a technical advisory group made up of environmental professionals. Matas said neighboring Southwest states like Texas, Colorado and California already have AWP systems that all operate a little differently and ADEQ sought input from them.
What is the Advanced Water Purification Roadmap about?
The AWP roadmap outlines how to remove chemicals and contaminants from water that meet or exceed all state and federal drinking water standards.
“The program overall is really about establishing the standards while allowing innovation to continue to happen to make this technology more efficient and cheaper and more deployable across Arizona,” Matas said.
He said right now, after wastewater is treated, it is injected into the aquifers and circulates back into the environment. The AWP roadmap cuts out the environmental buffer and only includes one additional step with multiple barriers to address both chemical contaminants as well as pathological contaminants.
Matas said while it uses a lot of the same technology to treat wastewater, it will likely be more expensive upfront. However, he explained it may be a more cost-effective alternative for many utilities when comparing the expense with the economic impacts of water shortages and the harm it can cause to the environment.
Scottsdale’s AWP demonstration included a permit to bottle the water for people to drink. And to get people more comfortable with the idea of drinking purified wastewater it was given to local breweries so they could make beer from it.
The AWP system will secure a sustainable source of drinking water for Arizona’s growing population.
They want to have the rules finalized by the Secretary of States Office next year before a one-year pilot program can start.
ADEQ wants to hear from utilities, government entities, business owners and the public. You can find the AWP roadmap at AZDEQ.gov and or email.