It's a topic that makes some a little squeamish, but booming populations and continued droughts have led a few states and countries to take a closer look at processes that bring wastewater back to potable standards. For example, California's Department of Public Health is expected to deliver a report to the legislature next year detailing the feasibility of developing uniform direct potable reuse (DPR) standards for the state. And a DPR facility is already up-and-running in Big Spring, Texas, where groundwater quality is low and the surface water supply is unreliable. 

Despite this growing interest, DPR remains an emerging technology shrouded with concerns about cost, implementation, and public acceptance. Fortunately, these are the very questions tackled in a report released earlier this month at the 30th Annual WaterReuse Symposium in Seattle.

Framework for Direct Potable Reuse provides basic information about potable reuse broadly and the potential benifits DPR can provide utilities plagued with unreliable water supplies, mounting water and energy costs, and pressure to preserve resources and lower their carbon footprint. The 190-page report also addresses health effects associated with DPR, discusses how the process fits into the existing federal regulatory framework, outlines strategies for process monitoring and residuals management, and highlights the importance of operator requirements and maintenance programs. It concludes with a discussion of future regulatory, technological, and public outreach needs. 

Framework for Direct Potable Reuse was developed by WateReuse, the Water Environment Federation (WEF), the American Water Works Association, and the National Water Research Institute. 

The full report is available at the link above. A 4-page summary can also be downloaded on the WEF website


This video from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency highlights the City of Fredericktown's efforts to reduce their vulnerability to climate change, particularly drought and its effects on their source water. City officials used EPA's Climate Resilience Evaluation and Awareness Tool (CREAT) to help identify and evaluate the potential impacts of climate change on their utility and develop adaptive management strategies. 



Last week, we shared tips to help you lay the groundwork for a successful rate approval process. The strategies focused on gaining public support for your operations as a whole so customers understand its value when it came time to ask for additional funds. Following these will help you gain community buy-in, but how you present a rate increase proposal will still play a vital role in ensuring you have the rates you need.

Here are a few things to remember while you are developing your communication strategy:

  • Timing is key. Community events, especially elections, can have a significant influence on the success of an increase.
  • Anticipating customer concerns and providing answers to questions about the need for the increase, cost efficiency, and how the change will affect individuals up front can do a lot to misunderstandings and foster public support.
  • Whether you're talking to a customers or the board, your messages should be succinct and consistent. Statements like, "Water reliability is at risk due to the need to upgrade the distribution system," clearly convey what is at stake and what actions can be taken.
  • Your local media can be a beneficial partner in utility communication, particularly if you have taken steps to cultivate a relationship.

Working with community stakeholders like environmental groups, industries, and even neighboring utilities can lend credibility to your messages and create champions for the rate adjustment.

For more suggestions, read this report from an expert panel discussion at the 2014 AWWA/WEF Utility Management Conference.

Our partners at the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) have released a new instructional video on how to collect coliform samples.

"Coliform sampling is an important part of monitoring the water quality in all drinking water systems. Collecting coliform samples correctly is absolutely critical in protecting public health. Improper sampling is the most common reason for false positive results. Positive results, even false positives, require repeat sampling, which result in extra effort, time, and money. In this video, we will cover 13 steps to proper coliform sampling and discuss how to find a good sampling site."

Coliform Sampling Best Practices from RCAP on Vimeo.

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