DENVER (October 5, 2022): Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a research grant to the Water Research Foundation (WRF) for $3.2 million to support efforts to unlock the national potential of water reuse. WRF’s grant is one of two research grants EPA is awarding today, the other to Iowa State University, to support national efforts to reduce technological and institutional barriers for expanded water reuse.
“Safe and reliable water is critical to protecting public health, and innovative solutions for reusing water can improve water availability and access across the nation,” said Chris Frey, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “These research projects will help advance water reuse applications so communities, local and state governments, and Tribes can provide alternatives to existing water resources.”
Water reuse is the practice of reclaiming water from a variety of sources, treating it, and reusing it for beneficial purposes. It can provide alternative supplies for potable and non-potable uses to enhance water security, sustainability, and resilience.These research grants will help accelerate water innovation, information availability, and engagement. The funding will advance clean and safe water reuse goals, promote a better understanding of the nation’s water and wastewater treatment and infrastructure, and enhance the availability and efficient use of water resources through water reuse.
“This research will advance innovation and progress on one of our most pressing environmental challenges. Water reuse can reduce the amount of freshwater diverted from sensitive ecosystems, making more freshwater available for drinking, wildlife, and aquatic environments” said EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker. “This is especially important in western states, many of which are experiencing unprecedented extreme drought conditions .”
The WRF’s proposed research will use wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) and surveillance to understand pathogen loading and enable rapid identification and response in reuse systems, develop quantitative microbial risk assessment tools for application to underappreciated reuse applications, and identify opportunities for chemical health risk reduction. It will also develop a comprehensive model for reuse treatment processes that includes predictive algorithms, integrated to evaluate treatment train performance for microbial and chemical water quality goals, incorporating pilot demonstration and techno-economic analysis to support real-time monitoring and risk mitigation.
Their proposal will also quantify water reuse potential across the nation and identify barriers, drivers, and pathways to successful reuse through a rigorous case study evaluation process and partner with community leaders to synthesize and address organizational and social barriers to advancing reuse across diverse contexts and for traditional marginalized communities. The proposal will also evaluate planned and potential reuse projects through a quantitative sustainable design process to identify strategies for water reuse capacity building efforts expanding reuse across a diversity of contexts. The expected results of this work will provide stakeholders of diverse backgrounds with user friendly tools and materials to advance water reuse in their community.
Learn more about EPA research grants