Reno investing in unique reuse techniques for future water supplies

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8/9/2023: AWWA

Reno, Nevada, receives only 7.5 inches of rain per year, so bolstering the water supply in this arid region is a priority.

pilot equipmentWith that as the aim, the City of Reno and local water system Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA) joined forces on a unique indirect potable reuse project called the American Flat Advanced Purified Water Facility.

Reno, being an inland city, required the project team’s ingenuity to develop a purification method other than reverse osmosis, which creates a salty brine that is difficult and expensive to dispose of without a nearby ocean. They piloted several different treatment plans before landing on one using dissolved air flotation, ozone, biological activated carbon filtration and ultraviolet disinfection (pilot equipment pictured at right).

Lydia Teel“When we were piloting the sedimentation and filtration process, we had a really hard time with the floc trying to float,” said Lydia Teel, emerging resources program administrator for TMWA. “We said, ‘Let’s not fight it. Let’s add air and let it float.’ It worked so well. That may have been kind of a eureka moment for that part of the piloting effort.”

The method for treating the water is only one part of what makes the project unique. When the large-scale facility is built, the plan is to initially use the treated water to irrigate alfalfa fields to confirm the technology works. Following this testing period, the treated water will be injected into an aquifer where it will travel several years to reach extraction wells, where it will be chlorinated and delivered to customers’ taps as drinking water.

“It’s a really innovative project and I love that this region is pursuing it,” Teel said. “It’s a state-of-the-art type of treatment method where we’ve taken bits and pieces from other projects to make it our own to best fit our area.”

With a treatment plan in place, the team is designing a $120 million facility capable of treating two million gallons of water per day. Construction on the facility is scheduled to begin in fall 2024 and take about two years to complete.

The project team will use the lengthy timeline to demonstrate the water purification process and educate consumers about the many benefits of the project. (Pictured, trailer used to provide public education about water reuse in Reno.) 


“I think the Reno area is a very unique community that is very water conscientious,” Teel said. “The reception for the project has been very positive. Our community always goes above and beyond when it comes to water conservation. We’re very lucky.”