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Low-Cost Treatment Technologies for Small-Scale Water Reclamation Plants

Project: 06-08
Type: Report
Year Released: 2010

Program: Principal
Funding Partner: Bureau of Reclamation
Total Investment: $156,172.49 (Cash: $122,322, In-Kind: $33,850.49)

Principal Investigator: Andrew T. Salveson, P.E., Carollo Engineers, P.C.


The shortage of fresh water is a severe problem for many areas of the world, including communities with limited financial and technical resources in rural areas and in the developing world. Water reclamation and reuse provide promising solutions to ease fresh water shortage problems. However, limited data are readily available on small-scale water reuse treatment systems. This project provides a comprehensive and up-to-date summary of treatment technologies and costs for small-scale water reuse.

Goals and Objectives

The project provides up-to-date information on the costs, treatment capabilities, and operability of available technologies. A range of unit treatment processes and package systems were identified and evaluated. The cost and operation data from over 234 small-scale water reuse facilities have been gathered, synthesized, and reported. The results have also been incorporated into the WAWTTAR model for dissemination to rural communities and developing countries.

Research Approach

This study identifies and evaluates established and innovative technologies that have less than one million gallons per day (mgd) flow rates. A range of conventional treatment processes, innovative treatment processes, and package systems were evaluated as part of this project. The cost and operational data from existing small-scale water reuse facilities have been gathered and synthesized. Data sources include cost data from utility surveys, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Program cost database, and an additional database from consulting engineers. From this analysis, the costs and maintenance issues for the various types of treatment technologies are compared and contrasted. In addition, to help identify reuse opportunities and constraints, water quality regulations governing reuse were gathered and summarized for each state.

Findings and Conclusions

The treatment trains reviewed for this project include a range of conventional, advanced, and alternative treatment plants and systems. The costs span a range of small-scale flows, allowing for water reuse treatment costs to be quickly estimated.

A robust data set was gathered and synthesized, including:

  • Detailed summaries of treatment technologies, types of reuse, and national reuse regulations,
  • Cost data for over 234 small-scale treatment system,
  • Construction and O&M cost comparisons for the difference treatment technologies, and
  • Effluent water quality comparisons for various treatment technologies.

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