A new application of proven water-treatment technologies is offering Northern Nevada an opportunity to both lead and benefit from the water-reuse revolution sweeping the western United States. The project is the Advanced Purified Water Facility at American Flat (APW Facility); it would be the first indirect potable reuse project in Nevada. A joint effort by the City of Reno and Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA), the project is part of the greater OneWater Nevada water sustainability effort and will be located only a few miles north of Reno.
The facility will produce Category A+ reclaimed water (A+). As defined by the Nevada Administrative Code (NAC) 445A, A+ water is suitable for all Nevada water recycling practices, including groundwater augmentation. To meet the A+ standard, the project team selected an ozone-biological-carbon based treatment system. These processes produce purified water that meets or exceeds state and federal drinking water standards while also providing significant savings in capital and operating costs, lower energy requirements, lesser treatment-chemical consumption, and none of the brine-concentrate discharge that comes with the reverse osmosis approach commonly used in costal facilities.
The source water for the APW Facility will be high-quality filtered and Ultraviolet (UV) disinfected effluent from the Reno-Stead Water Reclamation Facility (RSWRF). This water will undergo advanced treatment with an innovative process utilizing ozone oxidation and biological filtration, effectively reducing pathogens and chemicals of emerging concern—such as pharmaceuticals—which persist at trace levels in the RSWRF effluent. From the APW Facility, the water will be conveyed by pipeline approximately 10 miles to an undeveloped, rural site. Here, the water will undergo further polishing and disinfection, using granular activated carbon filtration and ultraviolet light treatment processes. From there, the advanced purified water will be recharged into the groundwater aquifer and stored for future use. Aquifer storage is not subject to evaporative losses like a reservoir, and further enhances water quality through natural processes.
Potential Project Benefits:
- Provides a local, reliable, drought-proof water source.
- Reduces the amount of reclaimed water being discharged by RSWRF into flood-prone Swan Lake by up to two million gallons per day.
- Improves the quality of the remaining reclaimed water discharged into Swan Lake.
- Increases resilience and sustainability in the regional water portfolio.
- Develops an innovative treatment process tailored for use in non-coastal states.
- Demonstrates the viability of Advanced Purified Water in Nevada, potentially enabling the technology to be implemented in the future at other water reclamation facilities, reducing reliance on Truckee River water resources.
Approvals for project funding were made in 2022 by TMWA and the City of Reno. The project team is working on early-stage facility design—with a thirty percent design expected to be completed by Summer 2023. The project partners have also evaluated responsibilities, staffing, and have completed cost-sharing agreements to optimize long-term operating and maintenance activities. This year TMWA and the City of Reno will be seeking an A+ permit from the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection. Project construction is not expected to begin until spring of 2024 at the earliest. In the meantime, the project team will continue working on various aspects of the design as well as a robust public education and outreach effort.
In 2016, a third-party, technical panel of water experts was commissioned by the National Water Research Institute (NWRI) for an initial evaluation and review of the project. The panel concluded the effort was, “plausible, feasible and protective of public health.” Follow-up reviews by the NWRI expert panel were conducted in 2022 and 2023, to confirm earlier findings.
Though it will produce only a small part of the region’s overall water supply, the Advanced Purified Water Facility at American Flat will build on an already-strong record of regional water resource management. Applied across the entire region, the advanced water purification process being pioneered by the OneWater Nevada team has the potential to improve sustainability and resilience while also helping protect the water quality and environmental health of the entire Truckee Meadows Watershed.