A Survey of Key States’ Regulatory Approaches to Water Reuse

Colorado has a long history of beneficial water reuse, beginning with projects that were implemented in the 1950s. Over time non-potable reuse has grown to where there are now 27 reclaimed water treaters and nearly 500 reclaimed water users. In 2000, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) promulgated reuse regulations that were initially limited to using reclaimed water for landscaping. Since then there have been four additional rulemakings and the number of approved uses for reclaimed water has grown.

Non-potable reuse1 in Colorado is regulated under the WQCC Reclaimed Water Control Regulation 84 (Regulation 84), the purpose of which is to “establish requirements, prohibitions, standards and concentration limits for the use of reclaimed water to protect public health and the environment while encouraging the use of reclaimed water.”2 Regulation 84 defines reclaimed water as “domestic wastewater that has received secondary treatment by a domestic wastewater treatment works and
such additional treatment as to enable the wastewater to meet the standards for approved uses”. Regulation 84 applies to individual reclaimed water treaters (producers) and users with a WQCD Notice of Authorization (NOA) which is equivalent to a certification. Treated wastewater effluent that has been discharged to state waters, even if subsequently captured and reused downstream, and treated wastewater used at a wastewater treatment plant for irrigation or process uses are exempt or not covered under this regulation.

There is interest in the WQCD, the regulated community, state water planners, and other stakeholders, to increase opportunities for reuse under Regulation 84 while ensuring protection of public health and the environment. While there are many approved uses of reclaimed water in Colorado, historically much has been used for irrigation. To increase reuse opportunities, several new uses for reclaimed water are being proposed, including: (1) indoor toilet and urinal flushing; (2) commercial irrigation of edible crops for human consumption; (3) livestock wash-down uses; and (4) non-commercial irrigation of edible crops for human consumption. The WQCD has also expressed interest in considering broader changes to Colorado’s regulatory framework that may better facilitate additional reuse while ensuring recycled water is appropriately treated and distributed to ensure protection of public health and the environment.

This white paper documents the information from a survey of several state reuse programs, with a focus on treatment and water quality requirements and allowed uses. States surveyed were identified in collaboration with the WQCD and WateReuse Colorado members and include California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. State’ processes for evaluating proposed new uses for reclaimed water, and regulatory agency staffing and funding are also addressed. It is important to note
that any references to statutes, rules, regulations, or guidance in this document should not be substituted for reference of the primary documents.

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