Project #5040

Successful Implementation of Decentralized Reuse and Treatment Systems

In Progress
Principal Investigator
Research Manager
Dr. Harry Zhang, Ph.D., PE
Columbia University
Integrated Planning & Water Management
Decentralized Systems
Reuse: Nonpotable
Water Supply Planning


The use of reclaimed water is common in some regions—usually through centralized treatment facilities. When considering new systems or the expansion of existing systems, integrating decentralized reuse can be a powerful means of achieving reliability and sustainability beyond water supply diversification. The objectives of this project are to synthesize the best practices and create a supporting tool that captures the experiences of utilities that employ different kinds of decentralized reuse systems and to identify information gaps and research needs. The results of this research can improve utilities' abilities to consider decentralized water reuse as an option for future water resource management planning.

A comprehensive literature review pooled information about onsite and distributed water reuse systems (ODWRS)—from drivers and regulatory issues to costs and outcomes. ODWRS collect, treat, and reuse water close to the site of supply and demand. They are becoming an increasingly feasible and potentially desirable complement to existing centralized infrastructure because of their environmental and social benefits. An ODWRS typology or classification scheme that goes beyond source, scale, and end use is necessary for characterizing project-level attributes that contribute to successful implementation by utilities and municipalities. Published in 2022.