Scottsdale Water recognized as global leader in recycled water use

The WateReuse Research Foundation and the Australian Water Recycling Centre of Excellence have recognized the Scottsdale Water Campus and Reclaimed Water Distribution System among the world’s most innovative water purification projects in their recently published Global Connections map.

The Global Connections project includes narratives and videos that demonstrate the needs, benefits, safety and technologies of key recycled water projects around the world.

With a goal of demonstrating the necessity and opportunities of reusing our most precious resource, the project explains some of the ways in which water is used and reused across the globe for both direct and indirect potable reuse.

The Scottsdale Water Campus component of the Global Connections map highlights the state-of-the-art Advanced Water Treatment Facility, which can produce 20 million gallons a day of ultrapure recycled water for both groundwater recharge and golf course irrigation, and the Reclaimed Water Distribution System – a public-private partnership funded by 23 golf courses in north Scottsdale to provide large turf irrigation without the use of groundwater, according to a press release.

Scottsdale Water Campus

Indirect potable reuse is the process of treating wastewater to levels that exceed drinking water standards and then injecting that ultrapure water into the aquifer to augment future groundwater supplies. The Scottsdale Water Campus is one of the largest and most sophisticated indirect potable reuse facilities in the world and has been an industry leader in this realm since the facility began operation in October of 1998.

The Water Campus has multiple distinct components: the Water Reclamation Plant, which produces tertiary effluent, the Advanced Water Treatment facility, which further treats effluent for aquifer recharge, a recharge well field with 63 injection wells, and a state-of-the-art water quality lab. (The Water Campus also houses a 70 million gallon a day capacity drinking water treatment facility.)

The AWT treats the effluent from the Water Reclamation Plant 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.

Reclaimed Water Distribution System

Since the early 1990s, Scottsdale has been providing non-potable water to 23 golf courses in north Scottsdale through a public-private partnership known as the Reclaimed Water Distribution System, the release stated.

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.

The RWDS was first conceived and negotiated by Desert Mountain Properties and the city of Scottsdale 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.

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 the city of 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 2014 alone, the city recharged over 1.7 billion gallons of ultrapure water into the aquifer, the release stated.

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 essential 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 Phoenix Waste Management Open and the Charles Schwab Cup Championship. The two popular 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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