PEP Lunch and Learn: Water Reclamation in Alabama

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During a recent Lunch and Learn, PEP Members learned that The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) has expanded permitting options for the discharge of treated wastewater, opening the door for PEP members to implement innovative ways of reusing this valuable resource in municipal and residential settings. Though reuse permitting first came available in 2015, no reuse permits have been issued to date. While the reuse of wastewater has been slow to catch on, the opportunities for PEP member companies to embrace water reuse applications are expansive.

ADEM’s water reuse permitting allows for application of reclaimed wastewater in residential and municipal landscape irrigation, cropping and nursery production systems, and maintenance of commercial campuses, among other uses (see chart below). Wastewater reuse provides opportunities for developers to solve disposal issues while advancing the conservation of Alabama’s natural waterways and beautifying parks, subdivisions, and other greenspaces.

At the December PEP Lunch and Learn, Frank McFadden, President of McFadden Engineering shared information regarding uses and treatment of the two categories of reuse water, Class A and Class B, in Alabama. ADEM defines Class A reuse water as a secondary treated municipal wastewater that has received additional treatment including, at a minimum, coagulation, clarification, filtration and disinfection, or an alternate process acceptable to the Department. Class B reuse water is secondary treated municipal wastewater that has received additional treatment including, at a minimum, disinfection. Class A reuse water can be used for a broader range of applications due to the additional treatment.

Approved disinfection applications meet EPA requirements. Accepted disinfectants include chlorine gas, chlorine dioxide, UV light, and ozone treatments. Treated water must be monitored on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis for E. coli, pH, turbidity, and other parameters. Where reclaimed water is in use, labeling is required such as purple colored pipes for irrigation and signage to notify the public and personnel. Additional operational safety measures must be in place to manage wastewater effectively.

While water reuse may not necessarily be the cheapest option, incentives and grant funds can encourage innovation and new technologies. In many cases, water reclamation and reuse may be the only viable option for treatment and disposal. PEP members regularly demonstrate their capacity for pioneering design, such as the OxyShark® developed by McFadden Engineering. This system includes a biological high purity oxygen treatment process that allows small businesses and industries to manage wastewater effectively and economically. The new ADEM permitting opens to door to new developments in wastewater treatment technologies and use. The City of Mobile can turn to other municipalities and states that have already embraced wastewater reclamation in developing incentives for broader adoption and invention.