Streamlined regulations encourage reusing water

Proposed rule will help state prepare for future droughts

A rule that’s been drafted would help Washington deal with water shortages by encouraging local jurisdictions to reuse or reclaim water.

Reclaimed water is water that is treated by sewer plants to ensure it is safe for other uses, such as irrigation, controlling dust or flushing toilets.

Use of reclaimed water, say Washington State Department of Ecology officials, conserves the state’s limited supplies of drinking water.

Reclaimed water can also be reused to create, restore and enhance wetlands, recharge underground water supplies, and increase flows in rivers.

Ecology officials also note that reclaiming water improves water quality by reducing the amount of wastewater that treatment plants discharge into Puget Sound and other state waterways.

“This proposal gives our state an additional tool to reduce the impacts of water shortages and drought conditions in the future,” said Maia Bellon, director of the Washington Department of Ecology, which is developing the rule.

“This is part of our broader initiative to prepare for climate change, while also protecting the health of our waters and preserving our diminishing water supplies,” Bellon added.

Bellon explained that in Washington, 28 local jurisdictions are already putting reclaimed water to work, including Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater, Quincy, Airway Heights and King County.

Bellon said the state’s draft of the reclaimed water rule, if approved, would establish new regulations for all reclaimed water projects by creating a consistent implementation framework, including standards and permitting requirements.

The public is invited to review and comment on the proposed rule until Aug. 21 of this year. Ecology officials will hold two public workshops and hearings on the rule, the closest being in Spokane at the Spokane Regional Event Center on Tuesday, July 21, at 9:30 a.m.


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