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The State of Technology and Community Driven Application of Distributed Wastewater Reuse, Nutrient Reclamation, and Energy Savings


The security of clean water for urban communities is increasingly uncertain due to over usage, a shifting hydrosphere, and changes in development patterns. The wastewater treatment community has come to a turning point, where wastewater is increasingly being viewed as a valuable resource that can be transformed into commodities such as clean water, nutrients and energy. This document will discuss the current state of the industry for water reuse and nutrient reclamation and evaluate each practice based on the feasibility of implementation in communities of different sizes.

Planning research has focused on distributed wastewater treatment systems primarily in two settings. The first setting is in the "developing" world where communities often lack rigorous water conveyance and treatment systems. The second is in the developing fringe on the outskirts of already developed urban centers. In both settings decentralized water treatment technologies have often become synonymous with low energy water and energy saving technologies.

Research on engineering solutions for the recovery of nutrients and clean water, either for local use or export, has made tremendous strides. However, the application of these technologies has been confined to conventional centralized wastewater treatment plants. This document draws upon existing wastewater planning practices and evaluates how communities could best implement a distributed network of reuse and reclamation facilities. It proposes that the scale of distributed wastewater treatment and reuse systems could open up the planning process to members of the community that have historically not had a say in the planning of their community.

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