Water Reuse Activities and Resources
EPA supports water reuse as part of an integrated water resources management approach developed at the state, tribal, watershed, and local level to meet needs of multiple sectors. The Safe Drinking Water Act is the federal law that protects public drinking water supplies throughout the nation. The Clean Water Act establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulating quality standards for surface waters.
Water Reuse Action Plan
EPA and federal partners facilitated development of National Water Reuse Action Plan: Collaborative Implementation (Version 1). The plan leverages the expertise of stakeholders from industry, agriculture, and governments at the federal, state, tribal, and local levels, as well as other stakeholders. The collective effort fosters consideration of water reuse as a tool to improve the resiliency, security, and sustainability of the Nation’s water.
Guidelines for Water Reuse and Potable Reuse
The process of using treated wastewater for drinking water is called potable water reuse. Potable water reuse provides another option for expanding or diversifying a region’s water resource portfolio. Since the 1980s, EPA has periodically released guidelines that describe how water reuse is practiced in the United States and other countries.
- The 2017 Potable Reuse Compendium covers multiple topics including the extent of potable water in the United States and the world, the costs of potable water reuse, and the treatment processes used in potable water reuse.
- The 2012 Guidelines for Water Reuse serves as a general reference on water reuse practices. The document provides information related to indirect potable reuse (IPR).
- The 2004 Guidelines for Water Reuse examines opportunities substitute reclaimed water for potable water supplies where potable water quality is not required.
Please visit the potable reuse and drinking water page for additional water reuse guidelines publications.
Water Reuse Research
EPA is committed to active engagement and research, with various partners and stakeholders to ensure that water reuse is protective of human health. EPA’s Water Reuse Research areas include:
- Onsite Non-Potable Water Reuse which is one solution that can help communities collect, treat, and reuse water for non-drinking water purposes.
- Water Scarcity and Drought Grant Research these research grants investigate how drought may impact surface water and groundwater quality and availability.
- Human and Ecological Health Impacts Grant Research these research grants measure the health and ecological impacts of water conservation practices such as potable reuse and agricultural water reuse.
Water Efficiency for Water Suppliers
Only so much freshwater is available for consumption. To keep up with population growth, greater competition of resources, and climate considerations, drinking water suppliers need to adopt best industry practices for water efficiency and new strategies that adjust for changes in water quantity and quality. Water reuse can play a role in reducing stress on water supplies.
Implementing Water Reuse Projects in Tribal Communities
Every community faces its own unique water stresses, and tribal communities are no exception. EPA seeks to support tribes, as well as other small communities, by providing models of successful water reuse projects executed at the local scale. To that end, EPA held a July 2020 public webinar to feature case studies and recommendations for tribes interested in pursuing water reuse projects.