[permaculture] NEWS: Large-scale Use of [treated] Greywater?
saor at ycbtal.net
Fri Sep 2 14:43:17 EDT 2005
Two-Pipe System with Fresh, Recycled Water Taps into Future
September 02, 2005 -- By Steve Mayes, The Oregonian
The water district that serves Oregon's fast-growing Happy Valley and
the newly formed city of Damascus is borrowing an idea from the arid
Southwest -- recycled wastewater.
A community at the foot of Mount Hood might seem like the last place to
slake its thirst with anything but fresh runoff. But Sunrise Water
Authority has limited rights to draw from the Clackamas River, and it
expects demand to rise 400 percent over the next 20 years as thousands
of acres transition from rural to urban.
Its solution? Purple pipes.
Sunrise is starting to build what might be the first two-pipe
water-transmission system to serve a Northwest city. One pipe is for
drinking water. The other, colored purple to set it apart, will deliver
treated wastewater or untreated well water to farmers, industrial firms
"It's technically feasible, and it's environmentally friendly, and it
addresses concerns about taking water out of the Clackamas," said John
Thomas, Sunrise general manager. In the long run, Sunrise hopes to fill
10 percent of its summertime demand through recycled wastewater, an idea
that cities throughout the West are starting to embrace.
The WateReuse Foundation estimates that at least 200 communities west of
the Mississippi use reclaimed wastewater for various purposes.
Nationwide use of recycled water is expected to double in five years,
according to the American Water Works Association. "The good thing about
water reuse is it's pretty much drought-proof," said Jack Hoffbuhr, the
association's executive director.
In theory, everyone wins.
A fast-growing part of Clackamas County increases its water supply. Some
commercial customers could pay less. And a healthier-flowing Clackamas
River benefits endangered fish and recreational users.
Lake Oswego, Oregon City, Milwaukie and other cities all rely on the
Clackamas River for drinking water, putting water providers at odds with
environmental groups and efforts to protect the river and its wild
"It's a step in the right direction," said Lisa Brown, a staff attorney
with Water Watch, a river conservation group. "There's clearly much more
that needs to be done to ensure that our use of (the Clackamas) doesn't
ruin it and further damage the salmon and steelhead that depend on it."
Several Oregon wastewater agencies recycle water on a small scale.
Sandy pumps water to a nursery. Prineville waters a golf course.
Silverton irrigates the Oregon Garden.
Clean Water Services, which serves urban Washington County, diverts 10
percent or more of its treated wastewater to golf courses, schools and
wetlands in the summer, said Mark Poling, who oversees the program. But
without an extensive delivery system, Clean Water Services can't deliver
to any business or institutional customers, Poling said.
"The thing that makes this different is you have a drinking water agency
taking the lead," said Kim Anderson, Sunrise's purple-pipe project manager.
Installing a dual-pipe system in advance of development makes financial
sense for Sunrise. As a web of new roads and underground utilities
spreads across undeveloped land, it is relatively inexpensive -- about
$130,000 to $185,000 a mile -- to add one more waterline.
An ability to plan for growth is one of the benefits of Oregon's
approach to land-use planning. In 2002, as part of the largest expansion
of the urban growth boundary in Oregon history, the rural Damascus area
of Clackamas County was designated to become a city of 60,000 over the
next 20 years.
As the area grows, the county is likely to expand its wastewater
treatment system, and with purple pipes in the ground, that would
increase Sunrise's future water supply.
"Every drop we reuse is a drop we didn't take out of the river," said
Ted Kyle, Clackamas County's wastewater department's chief planner.
Sunrise started installing a large loop of purple pipes last year.
Eventually the line will circle large commercial and residential
projects that will be built east of Happy Valley. The water will
irrigate three parks, a schoolyard and greenways but won't be available
to residential customers. It could also be used to keep office buildings
cool or for businesses such as carwashes.
Reclaimed water won't start flowing until mid-2007, when Sunrise begins
a demonstration project, including a small plant that will treat
wastewater and pipe it to the new subdivision.
Another potential customer: Providence Health System, which plans to
build a Happy Valley medical center with as many as 2,600 employees.
Hospitals use a lot of water. "Many of the functions within the hospital
could be served with reclaimed water: toilet flushing, laundry services,
grounds maintenance," Anderson said.
"The biggest question is, 'Can they make it pay?' " said Lorna Stickel,
who manages a coalition of Portland-area water providers.
Sunrise officials say the answer is yes.
"Is it cost-effective today? Probably not," Thomas said. "But five to 10
years from now it may be."
Even if Sunrise doesn't use the purple-pipe network right away, "it's a
smart way to go," said Poling of Clean Water Services. "It keeps options
open for the future."
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Source: Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
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