Clean Ocean Action

Wastewater Reuse

According to research that is presented in Clean Ocean Action’s technical guide, several actions must be implemented to improve the quality of effluent as well as address the excessive amount of effluent released into the ocean (click on wasting our waters away).


One good way to improve wastewater treatment would be to reuse the water currently discharged into the ocean. By dumping water into the ocean, there is no real incentive to improve treatment—the ocean becomes the wastefield. However, if the water were to be recycled and reused—putting it back into the natural system or watershed—the standards for treatment would be higher and the water starved areas in the watershed would be replenished. 


Many communities throughout New Jersey are reaching water capacity limits. With reoccurring droughts and ever-increasing populations, the option of water reuse is becoming all the more important. Several environmentally sound reuse programs have been developed in other states in which wastewater can be treated and reused to address the large quantity of water that is "wasted away."


With new technologies, the quality of wastewater can be restored to certain levels and reused for irrigating agricultural crops and landscapes (such as golf courses), cooling of power plants, motors, and air conditioners, fire protection (for use in hydrants and by fire trucks), and even our homes. Although these reuse procedures are currently being developed in New Jersey, these programs have been used and proven to be very effective in other states, such as Colorado and California. New Jersey does not have a public renewal policy or regulation for the beneficial reuse of wastewater. For example, in San Jose, California, an IBM facility that uses reclaimed water saves approximately 100 million gallons of freshwater every year. Through programs such as these, wastewater effluent can be treated and reused for non-drinkable functions. 


Update on Beneficial Reuse of Wastewater

On August 4, 2005, COA Policy Intern Lauren Koch, and Nicole Simmons met with NJDEP to discuss beneficial reuse of wastewater.  Lauren presented the paper she authored as an intern in 2004, entitled, “Water Reuse Programs: A Primer for New Jersey.”  NJDEP is re-adopting the NJ Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NJPDES) program in February and will be including beneficial reuse.  NJDEP updated the technical manual, “Reclaimed Water for Beneficial Reuse,” in January and considers it the final version (note: it could be updated again).  COA made three recommendations: create a Vision Statement, hire a Program Director, and draft reuse regulations.  NJDEP is working to create a Vision Statement and rules (which will be incorporated into the NJPDES program), but cannot hire a Director at this time due to financial restrictions.


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