The city’s proactive conservation efforts took another giant step in late summer 2012 when its first reclaimed water system began operating at Veterans Park & Athletic Complex. Reclaimed water, sometimes called recycled or reused water, is the beneficial and sustainable use of treated wastewater.
This virtually drought-proof water supply is pumped from the Carters Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant to irrigate the entire facility. The high-quality recycled water will save about 25 million gallons of drinking water each year, which is enough to:
- Cover Kyle Field to a depth of 57 feet (twice as high as the goal posts);
- Fill 266 million 12-ounce bottles;
- Provide every College Station resident with enough to drink (1 gallon per day) for 8 ½ months.
Funded in part by utility revenues, the system cost about $3.3 million and has been in the works for more than a decade. College Station plans to eventually use reclaimed water to irrigate Stephen C. Beachy Central Park and other city facilities as well.
Our reclamation system substantially reduces demands on our potable water system, which will delay costly expansions and the need to drill additional groundwater wells to support our rapid growth. That saves money for the water utility and our customers.
What is Reclaimed Water?
Reclaimed water, sometimes termed “recycled water” or “water reuse,” is the sustainable use of treated effluent from wastewater treatment plants for beneficial purposes. Reclaimed water provides a drought-resistant water supply for the numerous non-potable (non-drinking) uses that do not require drinking water quality. Using reclaimed water for irrigation, water features, and other non-potable purposes is an environmentally efficient and cost-effective alternative to using drinking water.
Water reuse is firmly established as a primary water conservation method throughout Texas and the southern U.S. because of its ability to conserve scarce drinking water supplies during peak summer demand periods.
How is Reclaimed Water Used?
Reclaimed water can be used in numerous applications to satisfy most non-potable water demands, depending on the level of treatment. In Texas, reclaimed water treated to the highest standards can be used for:
- Urban uses – irrigation of public parks, golf courses, school yards, or athletic fields;
- Fire protection – either in internal sprinkler systems or external fire hydrants;
- Recreational ponds and wetlands
- Cooling towers
Is Reclaimed Water Safe?
Reclaimed water undergoes a high level of treatment to remove bacteria and viruses from wastewater. Pipelines carrying recycled water for nondrinking water purposes are colored purple, to differentiate them from pipelines carrying drinking water or untreated wastewater. Extensive testing is performed to assure water quality standards are met. In the United States, for example, reclaimed water has been used safely for more than four decades. Water reuse is a safe and environmentally responsible approach to conserving finite water resources.
What are the Benefits of using Reclaimed Water?
Drinking water sources are conserved;
- Existing water treatment facilities last longer;
- Construction of new water treatment facilities can be deferred; and
- A reliable new source of non-potable water is established.
What does the use of Reclaimed Water mean for College Station?
A common-sense element of water economics is that “the cheapest water you will ever have is the water you already have.” On an average day, College Station discharges six million gallons of highly treated effluent into local creeks. This effluent is classified as Type 1, meaning it meets the highest standards for reclaimed water and is suitable for irrigation use.
Phase I of the City of College Station’s Reclaimed Water project sends this highly treated effluent from the Carters Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant to a 480,000 gallon concrete storage tank at the Veteran’s Park and Athletic Complex. The high-quality recycled water is pumped from the tank for irrigation of playing fields and will save about 25 million gallons of drinking water each year.