As a high-desert community, we have a deep and enduring appreciation for the value of water in the Truckee Meadows and surrounding region. This appreciation and understanding guided us into sustainable water management practices — conserving, recycling, and storing water for the future. Developing innovative solutions to manage water for tomorrow’s generations while serving today’s needs has become a hallmark of our community’s approach to water leadership and water resource management.
What is the Project?
The Advanced Purified Water Facility at American Flat (Project) will evaluate and determine if the State of Nevada’s Category A+ reclaimed water quality (advanced purified water) offers regional long-range water supply benefits. This Project will be accomplished by building a facility to continue evaluating the feasibility and operational aspects of aquifer storage and recovery using advanced purified water.
The Project is envisioned to be a field-scale (1-2 million gallons per day) groundwater recharge process. It will involve upgraded treatment facilities at the Reno-Stead Water Reclamation Facility (RSWRF); an advanced purified water treatment facility (to be built near the RSWRF site); conveyance pipelines; pump station improvements; and injection and extraction wells. Advanced purified water stored in the aquifer would initially be extracted and utilized for irrigation of the American Flat site, and to later potentially augment drinking water supplies.
In 2016, the National Water Research Institute (NWRI) was asked to commission a third-party, technical panel of water experts to evaluate and review the Project. This expert panel concluded that it was “plausible, feasible and protective of public health.” Water quality sampling confirms purified water that undergoes this level of treatment has a much higher level of water quality than treated groundwater or surface water. A follow-up review by a NWRI panel of experts will be conducted starting in fall 2022.
What is Advanced Purified Water?
Nevada has decades of experience producing recycled, or reclaimed, water. Recycled water can be used for irrigation, construction, and industrial purposes. The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection regulates recycled water under various categories that are based on the level of treatment and water quality. In 2016, new regulations were adopted to permit the use of Category A+ reclaimed water, or advanced purified water, for groundwater augmentation. Advanced purified water quality is achieved through a combination of advanced water treatment processes and natural groundwater filtration and storage.
The quality of advanced purified water meets all Federal and State of Nevada drinking water standards and is intended for aquifer storage and recovery. Advanced purified water has been used to replenish underground aquifers and surface reservoirs in the U.S. for over 40 years. Like the Truckee Meadows, these other communities have a strong desire to conserve and recycle water resources instead of simply using them once.
The potential benefits from an advanced purified water system within the Truckee Meadows service area could include:
- Providing a local, reliable, drought-proof water source
- Reducing reliance on the Truckee River water supply
- Enhancing the region’s water supply resiliency to help address future uncertainties of climate change, such as
- longer growing seasons, snowpack changes, and water runoff timing
Approvals for project funding have been made this year (2022) by various partner agencies, and design of the project facilities and systems is under way. The project team and a design consultant are currently working on 30% design of facilities, and a contractor will be selected in fall 2022. At the same time, the project partners continue to evaluate responsibilities and staffing, and have completed cost sharing agreements that were developed to achieve the following, over the long term:
- Ongoing research and development efforts
- Infrastructure planning, design, and finance, and construction of upgraded treatment facilities, pipes, pumps, advanced purified water systems, and recharge and recovery well facilities
- Staffing needs, including long-term management and operations and maintenance
- Future water resources, water rights management, and potential water rights sales
- Ongoing pilot studies, and research and development efforts to optimize treatment
Ongoing Pilot Studies
Since 2017, OneWater Nevada has been studying various advanced water treatment technologies at pilot-scale in collaboration with the Nevada Water Innovation Institute. An advanced purified water demonstration study at RSWRF was completed in 2020, successfully achieving drinking water quality and demonstrating groundwater injection and recovery. Treatment technologies were housed within three large trailers and produced seven gallons per minute of advanced purified water. The capabilities of unique advanced water treatment technologies were validated, which has paved the way for future full-scale demonstration projects.
Although the demonstration study was the first project in Nevada to successfully demonstrate Nevada’s Category A+ regulations, there are still opportunities to enhance an already robust treatment system. Alternate steps are currently being tested and evaluated at RSWRF for consideration to optimize the final treatment-train design.