On Feb. 27, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), alongside federal partners, released the National Water Reuse Action Plan: Collaborative Implementation, a collection of bold actions developed in collaboration with water sector organizations that will reshape the way communities around the nation manage our most precious resource – water. The plan identifies 37 actions across 11 strategic themes to give communities tools to consider and adopt water reuse as part of an integrated water resources plan.

EPA announced its intent to facilitate the development of the National Water Reuse Action Plan (WRAP) one year ago on February 27, 2019. National water organizations including WEF, the WateReuse Association, American Water Works Association (AWWA), Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), and The Water Research Foundation (WRF) worked in partnership with utilities, businesses, and government to develop recommendations for the plan. 

The WRAP identifies tools related to education, policy, technology development, research, and a variety of other mechanisms to increase the likelihood that more cities and states will consider incorporating water reuse into their water management strategy. 

EPA along with other federal agencies such as the U.S. Departments of Energy and State and the U.S. Geological Survey, as well as national water associations will lead actions and collaborate on others to ensure implementation. Actions led by national water sector organizations include developing a database to track and report state-level policies and regulations, coordinating research, and workforce development.

Investment in water reuse builds communities that are modern, sustainable, and poised for economic growth. Recycled water is used coast-to-coast, including:

• In Idaho where the use of recycled water on crops keeps 2000 tons of nitrogen and 500 tons of phosphorous out of rivers and streams;
• In Massachusetts where an onsite, decentralized water recycling system enabled Foxborough  to host a stadium for the New England Patriots;
• In California where Orange County purifies recycled water to meet the drinking water needs of one-third of its population; and
• In Nevada where the availability of recycled water is making it possible for the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center to attract 100 companies that will bring over 20,000 new economy jobs to the high desert.

In the U.S., about 340 billion gallons of water per day are discharged from sources including municipal wastewater, industry process water, and agriculture runoff. Water reuse, also known as water recycling, captures water from a variety of sources and cleans it for a designated beneficial freshwater purpose such as drinking, industrial processes, surface or ground water replenishment, and watershed restoration. 

“It is absolutely vital to increase and diversify the practice of water to have a sustainable water future,” said WEF President Jackie Jarrell. “The leadership and resources of U.S. EPA and other federal agencies is essential to advancing water reuse on a national scale and WEF looks forward to collaboration on this shared priority.”

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This Week in Washington is an online news portal from the Water Environment Federation that provides updates on the latest legislative and regulatory developments that affect the water and wastewater communities. It provides concise reports of related bills, regulations, legal decisions, congressional hearings, and other federal government actions, following key issues from introduction to final determination.

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This Week in Washington is compiled by the WEF Government Affairs department. Please contact us with any questions or comments.

Claudio Ternieden
Senior Director of Government Affairs & Strategic Partnerships

Steve Dye
Legislative Director

Amy Kathman
Government Affairs Specialist