By Nicole Sherbert, Public information officer
The Advanced Water Treatment Plant at the Scottsdale Water Campus recently became the state’s first – and one of only three in the nation – permanent water treatment facility permitted to treat recycled water for potable water uses. The groundbreaking permit effectively establishes a model for cities across Arizona to begin working towards reusing their precious water resources for future, long-term water sustainability.
“Scottsdale Water has always been at the forefront of water reuse innovation,” said Scottsdale Water Executive Director Brian K. Biesemeyer. “We have been successfully operating our Advanced Water Treatment Plant to treat recycled water to ultrapure standards for over two decades. We are extremely proud to help not just Arizona cities, but communities worldwide, establish a path toward direct potable reuse and long-term water sustainability.”
The Advanced Water Treatment Plant at the Scottsdale Water Campus has been performing indirect potable reuse – recharging ultrapure water into the drinking water aquifer – for over 20 years. The facility takes tertiary effluent from the city’s conventional water reclamation plant and further treats it through ozonation, membrane ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet photolysis. The AWT can treat up to 20 million gallons of water a day to a water quality standard that exceeds that of bottled water. Due primarily to the AWT, Scottsdale has recharged over 70 billion gallons into regional aquifers since 1988.
While the water produced by the AWT is considered ultrapure, up until 2018, there was a regulatory prohibition in Arizona against using recycled water for direct potable use. Last year, the State approved removing the prohibition, which allowed the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to permit water systems for direct potable reuse.
“As technology has advanced, so has our ability to monitor water reuse to the highest standards,” said Misael Cabrera, Director of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. “With the rule change, ADEQ can now permit water systems with the highest level of expertise – such as Scottsdale Water – to employ innovative approaches to ensure the quality and quantity of Arizona’s water supply today and into the future.”
While Scottsdale has the technical ability to treat recycled water to a level exceeding drinking water quality standards, the city will not be sending recycled water into the drinking water system. Instead, Scottsdale will continue to meet customer needs through its diverse water supply portfolio, which includes using indirect potable reuse to recharge the aquifer for future beneficial use.
Other cities, however, are actively pursuing direct potable reuse as a long-term water source and Scottsdale’s executed permit from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality should help guide them down that path.
“Through aggressive aquifer recharge and our unique public-private partnership with local golf courses, Scottsdale is already maximizing the use of our collected wastewater,” explained Biesemeyer. “We pursued the DPR permit for demonstration purposes and to help other water providers define their paths toward optimal water reuse.”
With the regulatory change in place and the DPR permit issued, the next step is addressing public perception about drinking recycled water.
“It can be a hurdle,” recognized Nicole Sherbert, Scottsdale Water’s Public Information Officer who is heading up Scottsdale’s efforts to normalize public perception about direct potable reuse. “Convincing people that water from their sinks, showers, washing machines and, yes, toilets, can be cleaned to ultrapure standards can be a tough sell, but through education and transparency, I’m confident we’ll get there.” The first step for Scottsdale in moving that public perception needle is to introduce the recycled water through something consumers might find initially more palatable. Namely…Beer!
This November 8 and 9, Scottsdale Water and Canal Convergence – the city’s premier arts and education event – will host the world’s first beer festival featuring only craft beers brewed with recycled water. The One Water Brewing Showcase at Canal Convergence will spotlight ten Valley breweries who will be crafting and serving beer made from water delivered directly from Scottsdale’s Advanced Water Treatment Plant.
“Uncle Bear’s is thrilled to be part of the One Water Brewing Showcase because water is so important to beer!” said Andrew Bauman, Head Brewer for Uncle Bear’s Brewery in Gilbert. “Although all water is recycled water, we’re impressed by the incredible system Scottsdale has implemented to make the cleanest water possible. The future of water for Arizona, and for the next generations, is happening right now and it’s awesome to get to be a part of this project.”
The One Water Brewing Showcase is free to attend and will feature five breweries each night. Guests will be able to purchase individual full-size draft beers or sampler flights to taste all five.
In addition to the beer showcase, Scottsdale holds a controlled number of educational events at the Scottsdale Water Campus throughout the year and visitors to the facility will now be able to taste the purified water directly from the source as part of future Advanced Water Treatment Plant tours.
“This is a major step forward for the future of water treatment and supply,” concluded Biesemeyer. “By leading the efforts to not only implement the technology for DPR, but also to influence both regulatory implementation and public perception, Scottsdale Water is continuing to exemplify our vision of water sustainability through stewardship, innovation and people.”
For more information about the Advanced Water Treatment Plant and a water quality report for the DPR water being used for the One Water Brewing Showcase, visit ScottsdaleAz.gov and search “recycled water.”