Volume 32, Issue 4

July 2016
Special Issue on Water Reuse Policies for Potable Use

Foreword »
Peter Joo Hee Ng

Preface »
Asit K. Biswas

Editorial »
Cecilia Tortajada and Choon Nam Ong

Research Article

Potable water reuse history and a new framework for decision making

Joseph A. Cotruvo
Joseph Cotruvo & Associates, LLC, Washington, USA

Contact: Joseph A. Cotruvo | Email: joseph.cotruvo@verizon.net


As populations and water demand increase, more sustainable water sources are needed. Wastewater reuse is a major opportunity. Treated wastewater is available for non-potable applications and drinking water production. Direct potable reuse and planned indirect potable reuse provide sustainable drinking water; other reuse applications can offset current drinking water uses at lower cost due to lower end-use quality requirements. There is some public reluctance to choose potable reuse, but planned reuse projects provide drinking water of higher quality than typical natural sources. Guidance is available to assure safe and high-quality reused water.

Pages: 503–513


Research Article

Water reuse, emerging contaminants and public health: state-of-the-art analysis

Choon Nam Ong
NUS Environmental Research Institute (NERI) & Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Contact: Choon Nam Ong | Email: eridir@nus.edu.sg


This article addresses the issue of quality in reused water for potable purpose. The concerns of potential presence of pathogens and inorganic and organic constituents in the reused water and their health implications are discussed. Presently, there are no specific or international guidelines or standards for treatment or monitoring when municipal wastewater is used for potable purpose. Research to advance the safety, reliability and economic sustainability of reuse is also lacking. When assessing the risks associated with reclaimed water, the potential of production failure and reliability also needs to be addressed and mitigated.

Pages: 514-525


Research Article

Public–private partnerships in the water reuse sector: a global assessment

David A. Lloyd Owen
Envisager Limited, Ceredigion, UK

Contact: David A. Lloyd Owen | Email: david@envisager.co.uk


Unlike contracts involving water provision, involving the private sector in water reuse projects is not seen as politically contentious. Water reuse remains a small element of public–private partnership contracts in general, but their frequency of use has increased, notably since 2005. These contracts are typically awarded in middle-to-high-income countries, and there is a relation between contract awards and water stress. In terms of population served, 5% of contracts were awarded in areas without water stress and 77% in areas with high water stress.

Pages: 526-535


Research Article

The regulatory framework of reclaimed wastewater for potable reuse in the United States

Rosario Sanchez-Floresa, Adam Connerb and Ronald A. Kaisera
aWater Management and Hydrological Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, USA, bWater Resources, San Antonio Water System, TX, USA

Contact: Rosario Sanchez-Flores | Email: rosario@tamu.edu


Water scarcity, climate change, population growth and rising infrastructure costs have opened the door for unconventional or ‘new’ water sources. Reclaimed water reuse has historically been practised for potable use in the United States as de facto water reuse or unplanned indirect water reuse. The increasing number of planned indirect water reuse projects in the country and the approval of the first direct potable reuse projects have exposed the limitations of the regulatory system at the national and state levels. These limitations pose barriers and/or add uncertainty to the viability of potable water reuse.

Pages: 536-558


Research Article

Common or independent? The debate over regulations and standards for water reuse in Europe

John Fawell, Kristell Le Corre and Paul Jeffrey
Cranfield Water Science Institute, Cranfield University, UK

Contact: Paul Jeffrey | Email: p.j.jeffrey@cranfield.ac.uk


Although unplanned water reuse has been practised across Europe for decades, multiple stresses on water supply and demand over recent years have led to the development of many planned reuse schemes. Despite this development, the legislative and regulatory regimes required to underpin a growing water reuse sector have arguably failed to emerge. The reasons for this and the cases for and against pan-European water reuse regulations are explored and debated. The conclusions highlight several challenges for politicians and policy makers if appropriate regulatory systems and water quality standards are to be provided which support the embryonic European water reuse sector.

Pages: 559-572


Research Article

Policy issues confronting Australian urban water reuse

James Horne
College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

Contact: James Horne | Email:  jameshorne@iinet.net.au


Urban water security in Australia’s major cities is now very high, reflecting in part recent policy interventions. Important indirect potable water reuse projects were completed but no direct potable reuse project was undertaken and none seems likely in the near term. Governments have much to learn from decisions to build very large desalination and recycling plants, particularly around timing and scale. Future water reuse decisions are likely to have a much greater commercial focus. Policies and regulations giving more flexibility to decentralized provision of water-related services could result in further growth of climate-resilient water resources and non-potable reuse.

Pages: 573-589


Research Article

Wastewater reuse in Beijing: an evolving hybrid system

Olivia Jensena and Xudong Yub
aLee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Institute of Water Policy, National University of Singapore, bNatural Resources Management, School of Environment and Natural Resources, Renmin University of China, Beijing

Contact: Xudong Yu | Email:  yxd2013000265@ruc.edu.cn


Water reuse capacity in Beijing has developed rapidly along hybrid lines, with a small number of large-scale plants connected to a network backbone and a large number of small-scale plants in less densely developed areas. This article examines whether Beijing’s reuse system meets the objectives of effectiveness and sustainability, employing a new data-set of water reuse facilities for the city. It finds that reuse development in Beijing has so far been largely supply-driven and the desirable attributes of a hybrid system may only be achieved as greater attention is given to demand aspects of water reuse.

Pages: 590-610


Research Article

Singapore’s experience with reclaimed water: NEWater

Hannah Lee and Thai Pin Tan
PUB, The National Water Agency, Singapore

Contact: Thai Pin Tan | Email: tan_thai_pin@pub.gov.sg


NEWater, Singapore’s reclaimed water, has enabled Singapore to sustainably meet its growing water demand despite limited land for water catchment and storage. While technology provided this water reuse solution, strong political will, good governance and effective public engagement were key to Singapore’s success in supplying NEWater for indirect potable use and direct nonpotable use. A multiple-barrier process including dual-membrane filtration and UV disinfection, complemented by a strict operating philosophy and comprehensive water quality management programme, ensures reliable delivery of good-quality NEWater even as the supply capacity expands.

Pages: 611-621


Research Article

Overcoming global water reuse barriers: the Windhoek experience

P. van Rensburg
Department of Infrastructure, Water and Technical Services, City of Windhoek, Namibia

Contact: P. van Rensburg | Email: pierre.vanrensburg@windhoekcc.org.na


Water scarcity is a reality, with a recent UN report estimating that about half of the global population could be facing water shortages by 2030. This has focused attention on existing sources and what could be done to maximize potential. Water reuse, in particular direct potable reuse (DPR), has enjoyed a somewhat turbulent history globally. Despite this, the City of Windhoek has been practising DPR for more than 45 years, and this commentary presents globally accepted barriers standing in the way of DPR and attempts to explore ways to overcome these given the experience in Windhoek.

Pages: 622-636


Research Article

A lived-experience investigation of narratives: recycled drinking water

Leong Ching
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Institute of Water Policy, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Contact: Leong Ching | Email: ching@nus.edu.sg


Recycled drinking water (RDW) represents a cost-effective and technologically reliable source of urban water. Yet it remains one of the least implemented solutions because of emotional and psychological difficulties – the human dimension of the ‘yuck factor’, which has been empirically identified as statistically significant. Researchers have therefore recently expanded water research in RDW to include the psychology of users. This study builds on this effort by using the lived-experience methodology for the first time on RDW. Investigating the case of Singapore, the method reveals an ‘insider’s view’ of key stakeholders, and uncovers human-scale narratives and experiences within the discourses of technology, economics of water supply, and ecological realities.

Pages: 637-649


Research Article

Public acceptance and perceptions of alternative water sources: a comparative study in nine locations

Anna Hurlimann& Sara Dolnicarb
aFaculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, The University of Melbourne, Australia, bUQ Business School, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Contact: Anna Hurlimann | Email: hurac@unimelb.edu.au


Public acceptance of recycled water, desalinated water and rainwater is compared across nine international locations: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Mexico, Norway and United States (specifically in Los Angeles). An online study was conducted in 2012, with 200 participants recruited to be representative of their respective location (1800 in total). The study investigated participants’ intended use of and perceptions of alternative water sources. Results indicate that respondents clearly differentiate between alternative water sources. Water source preference varied between water use purposes. Significant differences were found between locations in the percentage of respondents willing to use alternative water sources. Additionally the study found significant differences across locations in perceptions held of five water sources.

Pages: 650-673