Irrigation of Parks, Playgrounds, and Schoolyards with Reclaimed Water: Extent and Safety
Dr. James Crook, P.E., Environmental Engineering Consultant
While there have been no reported adverse health effects to children or others resulting from reclaimed water use at any of park, playground, or schoolyard sites, public concerns over the safety of the practice occasionally arise. A few projects have been delayed or modified due to opposition by small groups of concerned citizens. Most of the health concerns that arise revolve around the potential for disease transmission to children from microbial pathogens, although concern over potential hazards presented by low levels of pharmaceuticals and other chemicals has recently surfaced. Many of the concerns are unfounded and often are based on a lack of information, misinformation, or a general psychologically-based fear factor that the use of treated wastewater for landscape irrigation is inherently unsafe.
This report documents the number of individual parks, playgrounds, and schoolyard sites irrigated with reclaimed water across the United States, and presents the data by geographic region. It assembles the data that shows that there are minimal health concerns associated with chemical constituents where reclaimed water is used for landscape irrigation. Information obtained from the literature and other sources during preparation of this report support an overarching finding that the irrigation of parks, playgrounds, athletic fields, and schoolyards with highly treated and disinfected reclaimed water is safe and does not present any known health risks to children or others who frequent those sites that are measurably different than risks associated with irrigation using potable water.
(2005, 60 pages, 04-006-1)
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