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New Action Plan aims to increase water recycling across the nation

Thursday, March 5, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC – The WateReuse Association joined the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today in Washington, DC to unveil the National Water Reuse Action Plan, a collaborative effort that represents the first initiative of its magnitude to be coordinated across the water sector. Actions taken under this plan will bolster the sustainability, security and resilience of the nation’s water resources.

Gilbert Trejo, president of the WateReuse Association (WRA) and chief technical officer at El Paso Water, offered remarks and said that WRA has worked diligently with the EPA and partners to solicit public input and stakeholder feedback so that Action Plan initiatives were both strategic and actionable.

“The WateReuse Association is dedicated to advancing water recycling across the nation,” Trejo said. “It was an honor to work with partners in the water sector on this Plan that I believe connects the dots, and offers bold and innovative solutions to our water resource challenges.”

Collaborating partners included the American Water Works Association, the Association of Metropolitan Agencies, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, the Water Environment Federation, and the Water Research Foundation along with several federal agencies.

“We shared information, broke down silos and aligned and leveraged each other’s resources,” Trejo said. “This kind of partnership will have a lasting impact and clear a path toward significantly increasing the adoption and acceptance of water reuse in the coming years.”

Trejo highlighted El Paso’s history with reuse and a range of benefits from recycling water. Over three decades, EPWater has used water recycling to restore sensitive wetlands ecosystems, to cool power plants and to irrigate golf courses, city parks, school grounds, apartment landscapes, and construction and industrial sites. The results have conserved water and helped stabilize a declining aquifer.

Trejo said El Paso is leaning into the future with construction planned for an Advanced Water Purification Facility, which will purify 10 million gallons per day of reclaimed water to be pumped directly into the city’s distribution system.

“In our region, water reuse is a solution for drought resilience,” Trejo said. “But in other parts of the country, water reuse provides a solution to challenges that cities face when storm runoff impacts reservoirs, when water quality is not meeting standards, or when utility discharges have the potential to impact sensitive ecosystems. Water reuse is a 360 solution.” 

The Action Plan includes clear commitments – 37 actions across 11 strategic themes – to further water reuse and help assure the sustainability, security and resilience of the nation’s water resources.

“While acknowledging significant accomplishments the agency and its partners have made in providing Americans with access to safe water, we also see emerging challenges that require collaborative and creative solutions,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Dave Ross. “Together, we are leading efforts to address these challenges to protect public health and the environment while supporting the economy—today and for future generations.”

For more on water reuse, and to read the National Water Reuse Action Plan visit: https://www.epa.gov/waterreuse.