Scottsdale Water celebrates two decades of water reuse innovation

The Advanced Water Treatment facility at the Scottsdale Water Campus is one of the most advanced recycled water plants in the world. (Submitted photo)

The Scottsdale Water Campus — a potable water reuse facility in Arizona — is marking 20 years of recycled water innovation and the public have been invited to celebrate the landmark achievement.

The Advanced Water Treatment plant at the Scottsdale Water Campus, 8787 E. Hualapai Drive, treats sewage from Scottsdale homes and businesses to ultrapure water quality standards, according to a press release.

The purified water is then used to recharge drinking water aquifers and provide high-quality water to Scottsdale golf courses and sports fields.

The facility has enabled Scottsdale to recharge over 65 billion gallons of water into our area aquifers, safeguarding the city’s long-term water supply while ensuring the exceptional water quality of our local aquifers.

About potable water reuse

Indirect potable reuse is the process of treating wastewater to levels that exceed drinking water standards and then injecting that ultrapure water into the vadose zone where it filters into the aquifer to augment future groundwater supplies, a release states.

The Advanced Water Treatment plant at Scottsdale Water Campus is an indirect potable reuse facilities since the facility began operation in October of 1998.

The AWT treats recycled effluent to ultrapure levels utilizing ozonation, microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet disinfection prior to recharge.

In its original construction, the AWT had a production capacity of 6 million gallons a day of highly treated, RO-permeate recycled water. This water was originally used solely for groundwater recharge.

In 2018, Arizona removed the prohibition against using advanced treated recycled water for direct potable reuse.

Scottsdale is working with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to define the permitting parameters for this type of potential future use.

Reclaimed water distribution system

Since the early 1990s, the city provided non-potable water to 23 golf courses in north Scottsdale through a public-private partnership known as the Reclaimed Water Distribution System (RWDS).

(File Photo)

The RWDS is a complex system of pipelines, booster pump stations and reclaimed and advanced water treatment facilities capable of delivering 20 million gallons a day of non-potable water for turf irrigation specifically to RWDS member clubs, according to a release.

The RWDS was first conceived and negotiated by Desert Mountain Properties and the city as a means of terminating north Scottsdale golf courses’ reliance on precious groundwater resources for irrigation.

Through the original agreement, Desert Mountain and 12 other golf clubs invested $30 million to build and fund capital improvements to the system, a release states.

When the RWDS was first established, the city pumped raw surface water from the Central Arizona Project canal, which is also the city’s main source of surface water, to the member courses.

When the city’s Water Reclamation Plant came online in 1998, the courses began receiving a combination of raw CAP water and tertiary effluent.

Over time, however, the high salt level in the reclaimed water — from both Scottsdale’s source water and salt-based water softeners in Scottsdale homes and businesses — was creating challenges for the golf courses’ turf germination.

The RWDS courses and the city worked out an agreement to blend a portion of the ultrapure water from the AWT with the CAP water and effluent, which would significantly reduce the levels of total dissolved solids (primarily salt) in the delivered water.

To accommodate the needed additional water, the RWDS courses purchased capacity in the AWT, ultimately paying an additional $22.5 million to expand the facility’s capacity from 14 million gallons a day to its current capacity of 20 million gallons a day.

Benefits to Scottsdale

The added capacity of the AWT — funded by the RWDS golf clubs — dramatically increased the city’s recharge capabilities. In the non-peak-watering months, the city capitalizes on that added capacity, recharging the excess water not needed by the golf courses.

In 2017 alone, the city recharged over 1.7 billion gallons of ultrapure water into the aquifer.

Scottsdale is an internationally renowned tourist destination, hosting an estimated 10 million visitors annually, with an economic impact to the city of a little over $4 billion.

Golf is an economic driver for the city a key component of that tourism economy. While golf tourism has declined nationally, Scottsdale’s golf tourism continues to rise, increasing over 4 percent in 2014.

Scottsdale is also host to both the Waste Management Phoenix Open and the Charles Schwab Cup Championship.

The two PGA events, both of which are played on RWDS courses, provide a significant economic and charitable impact, with a combined annual attendance of over 550,000 fans.

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