RE-USE OF WASTE WATER
As water shortages increase worldwide, water users are looking for ways to re-use wastewater. This makes sense because it gives a water a double use for the same pumping costs and mandatory wastewater treatment costs. It also reduces the amount of water that must be diverted and conserves the resources. The only downside is that for each use of water there is an associated consumptive use with less water being returned to the natural hydrological system. The following article from the February 21, 2001 issue of the Albuquerque Journal describes the efforts of Rio Rancho, New Mexico to re-use some of their waste water and the efforts of other New Mexico communities. The original article has been slightly edited.
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CITY LOOKS AT IDEA TO SAVE WATER
The city of Rio Rancho could save water by selling treated waste water instead of drinking water to construction companies, members of the Rio Rancho Utilities Commission said Tuesday.
Early last month, the city agreed to sell water to J.R. Hale Contracting Co. of Albuquerque for its gravel mining operation near Cerrillos in Santa Fe County. The company sought 15,000 to 20,000 gallons a day for about a year to keep dust down. However, late last month, city administrator James Jimenez canceled the agreement, saying city staff hadn't known what the water was going to be used for. The mining project has drawn opposition from some Cerrillos residents.
The city often sells fresh, treated, potable water from fire hydrants to construction companies to hold dust down at work sites. "We're preaching conservation to the citizens and then we sell drinking water to contractors to dump on the ground," said District 2 Commissioner Roger Witt. Witt suggested selling treated waste water to contractors instead. The city already uses treated waste water to water the golf course. City water conservation officer Colleen Logan said that in 1999, about 3 percent of the city's total water use was by construction companies, so recycling waste water would save water.
City Utilities Department director Larry Webb said the city of Santa Fe already sells waste water to contractors. Rio Rancho would have to check with the state Environment Department to see if it could also sell waste water. Webb said waste water is treated to kill bacteria but is not drinking water quality.
Commissioners also wanted to know if the city could forbid sales to construction sites outside the city, but Webb said such a ban would be difficult to enforce.
Copyright 2001 Albuquerque Journal