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US EPA releases draft National Water Reuse Action plan to identify priority actions

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The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the release of a draft National Water Reuse Action Plan, which identifies priority actions, necessary leadership, and collaboration required to implement these actions.

Announcing the draft at the 34th Annual WateReuse Symposium in San Diego, California, EPA assistant administrator for water, David Ross, said: “Forty states anticipate experiencing fresh water shortages in certain regions within their borders over the next decade. Diversifying our nation’s water portfolio must be a nationwide priority, and water reuse has the potential to ensure the viability of our water economy for generations to come.”

The plan is the first initiative of this scale that will be coordinated across the nation’s water sector. It has been built upon considerable outreach, research and prior engagement with the water sector.

The draft version incorporates federal, state, tribal and local water perspectives, and outlines key actions that support consideration and implementation of water reuse. EPA intends to issue a final plan that will include clear commitments and milestones for actions that will further water reuse to strengthen the sustainability, security and resilience of water resources in the US.

Individuals, agencies and companies across the industry have welcomed the introduction of the draft action plan, with key comments highlighted below.

Tim Petty, assistant secretary for water and science at the Department of the Interior

“The Water Reuse Action Plan is a dynamic collaboration of federal partners and stakeholders to innovate and utilise water reuse technology to meet water challenges of today and prepare for the water needs of tomorrow. Developing and deploying these technologies to secure a safe water supply for our nation is a top priority of this administration.”

Brenda Burman, commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation

“Ensuring reliable water supplies for the future takes a combination of innovation approaches, from advancing critical infrastructure projects to implementing new conservation strategies. Water reuse is an important component of Reclamation’s all-of-the-above model, and we are committed to continuing our investment in water reuse for local communities throughout the West.”

Daniel Simmons, Department of Energy’s assistant secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

“Water and energy are intrinsically intertwined critical resources for America. New research and technology innovation, along with increased collaborations identified in the new Water Reuse Action Plan will help advance our nations’ water security and reduce water-related risks for our energy systems.”

Bill Northey, US Department of Agriculture’s under secretary for farm production and conservation

“USDA works side-by-side with agricultural producers – with the help of public and private partners – to make land management decisions that benefit natural resources, including conservation and reuse of water. Voluntary conservation on agricultural lands is one of the tools we have to address water challenges.”

Ryan Fisher, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works

“The Corps of Engineers looks forward to working with our federal partners and local sponsors to identify water reuse opportunities as we deploy infrastructure solutions.”

Patricia Sinicropi, executive director of the WateReuse Association

“The National Water Reuse Action Plan will be a game changer. WateReuse commends EPA and assistant administrator Ross for bringing together the federal family and moving forward a bold plan for water recycling. Communities across the country are incorporating water reuse into their water management strategies as a proven method for ensuring a safe, reliable, locally controlled water supply – essential for liveable communities, healthy environments, robust economies and a high quality of life. We look forward to working with EPA, other federal agencies, and the broader stakeholder community to further develop and strengthen the Action Plan in the months ahead.”

Mary Neumayr, chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality

“Water scarcity is a real and pressing challenge for many parts of our country, and is something this administration is dedicated to addressing. The WRAP is a practical example of federal agencies coming together to address our Nation’s most pressing water challenges and I look forward to working with all the agencies and bureaus represented as we continue to promote coordinated water resource management across the country.”