Back when Larry Fields was Graham's city manager, he introduced the idea of reusing waste water, or effluent, as a way of easing the city's declining water resources.
It wasn't totally a new idea then, but Fields said he expected it to catch on, and listed the City of Brownwood's plan as an example of a cutting edge effluent water system in progress.
When initially describing the process, Fields said that perhaps many people would have to get over the “yuck factor,” a phrase that's been used to describe the effluent-to-potable water for decades. But, he said earlier this year, he also drank a glass of it in front of a group people to whom he was presenting the idea.
According to new information from the Brazos Basin, the Brazos River Authority's newsletter, the idea of effluent use throughout Texas is growing in popularity as the most severe drought in North Texas history continues. The wastewater treatment process begins at the sewage plant, where odor is reduced, solids are removed and harmful microorganisms are killed.
The water is then discharged into streams and other water sources once it is deemed safe for release. Texas has been pitching effluent re-use as a viable conservation strategy, and most recently included the idea in its 2012 State Water Plan.
After looking at factors such as annual costs, potential water quantity production, impact on water quality and strategy reliability, the plan concluded that water reuse in Texas should increase to roughly 915,600 acre-feet per year by 2060.
“This represents slightly more than 10 percent of the volume of water produced by all strategies in 2060,” the plan states.
The City of Graham has been pursuing an effluent plan since late 2013, along with several other Texas cities, including Abilene, Lubbock, Cleburne and Waco. These cities currently use effluent wastewater to water grasses and other vegetation in roadway medians as well as local golf courses. It also supplies industrial customers and helps operate power generation plants.
Closer to Graham, Wichita Falls, a city entrenched in a Stage 5 Water Catastrophe since June, is implementing a direct re-use system for creating potable water from effluent. The City of Graham is pursuing a two-part effluent plan as part of its water strategy.
Read the entire story in this weekend's Graham Leader.