A Sneak Peek at the 2012 USEPA Guidelines for Water Reuse

Recorded: September 27, 2012

Scheduled for release at WEFTEC 2012, the updated US Environmental Protection Agency’s Guidelines for Water Reuse represents the international standard for best practices in water reuse. This webcast provides a sneak peek into the updated document that was developed under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the global consultancy CDM Smith.

The 2012 update highlights the range of water reuse applications being implemented around the world —from low-technology solutions to very advanced treatment technologies. Updates to the document have focused on key topic areas identified by stakeholders, including:

  • The role of reuse in integrated water resources planning and management, also referred to as total water management;
  • Energy use and sustainability associated with water reuse;
  • Increased focus on agricultural reuse;
  • Wetlands polishing and stream augmentation;
  • Groundwater augmentation and managed aquifer recharge;
  • Coverage of individual onsite and graywater reuse systems; and
  • New information on indirect potable reuse practices with considerations for direct potable reuse.

The document also provides links to state reuse guidelines and regulations and includes expanded information on the status of current international reuse practices. Additionally, a new emphasis has been placed on agricultural water reuse. The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) has contributed more information as a collaborator on the current guidelines than on any past update.


Three members of the guidelines project management team will present background on the development of the document and key theme and case study examples that have been incorporated into the new guidelines.

History and Background of the 2012 EPA Reuse Guidelines

— Robert K. Bastian, Senior Environmental Scientist, USEPA Office of Water, Washington, D.C.

While no federal regulations currently govern water reclamation in the U.S., individual states do regulate water reuse practices. Regulations vary from state to state, although some states have no water reuse guidelines or regulations. The EPA Guidelines for Water Reuse meets a critical need, informing and supplementing state regulations and guidelines. The first EPA Guidelines for Water Reuse was published in 1980, then updated and expanded in scope in 1992 and in 2004 as the field of water reclamation and reuse continued to evolve. Previous versions of the guidelines emphasized the technical and engineering aspects of water reclamation and reuse. This presentation will focus on the background and history of the document and the EPA’s motivation for moving forward with this most recent update.

Development of the 2012 Guidelines Document

— Don Vandertulip, P.E., BCEE, Principal Engineer, CDM Smith

The 2012 update to the EPA Guidelines for Water Reuse focuses on key topic areas identified by stakeholders through a series of U.S. and international workshops and sessions, as listed above. In addition, over 60 U.S. and 40 international case studies about water reuse have been collected to exemplify many of these topics. This presentation will provide an overview of the document development process which has included both domestic and international workshops and sessions in conjunction with water related conferences. Additionally, a description of the authorship, editorial and technical review processes will be described, which demonstrates the breadth of industry expertise represented in updating the document. Contributors to the document included design engineers, regulators, utility managers and operations staff, academic researchers, and public relations staff.

Exploring New Themes in the 2012 EPA Guidelines

— Kati Bell, Ph.D., P.E., BCEE Principal Engineer, CDM Smith

This presentation will explore some of the new themes in the 2012 EPA Guidelines for Water Reuse. Integrated water resources planning and management, which incorporates examination of reuse as a tool in the total water management is an underpinning to much of the discussion in the updated guidelines. This presentation will describe how the EPA’s emphasis of total water management relates to water reuse. As part of this discussion, the concept of implementing reuse projects to be designed as “fit-for-purpose” by choosing appropriate treatment technology for specific application is introduced. The guidelines also provide discussion of how to implement innovative management tools, such as managed aquifer recharge and touches on advances in indirect potable reuse practices, and considerations for direct potable reuse. Finally, the guidelines also provide an increased discussion on how to increase public participation in reuse planning. Case study examples of these concepts, highlighted in the 2012 guidelines will be provided.

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