Legal Alerts Mar 10, 2020

The EPA’s National Water Reuse Action Plan

Joint Plan Aims to Meet Rising Water Demands

A new National Water Reuse Action Plan focuses on water reuse practices aimed at strengthening water security, sustainability and resilience for both rural and urban communities. The Plan was released by the Environmental Protection Agency in conjunction with other federal, state, tribal, local and water sector partners. The EPA and its partners hope to increase water reuse to address the rising demands for water across the United States. Currently, water reuse amounts to less than 1 percent of the demand.
The Plan includes 11 strategic themes with 37 actions to be implemented by a spectrum of federal, state, local and private sector partners.

Key actions in the Plan include:

  • Integrated Watershed Action: Increase the opportunities for water reuse at state and federal level by integrating the Plan into watershed action plans as part of the entire water portfolio.
  • Policy Coordination: Coordinate and align federal, state, tribal and local water programs to share best practices, collaborate and expand on case studies, increase engagement and leverage existing programs to prioritize water reuse.
  • Science and Specifications: Improve the science and specifications for water treatment efforts by compiling existing fit-for-purpose specifications and develop new specifications for all potential uses of reclaimed water. This includes developing more integrated research, technology and tools to support water reuse systems.
  • Permitting: Expedite approvals for water reuse projects involving the construction of facilities and infrastructure by proposing a new U.S. Army Corps of Engineers nationwide permit for water reuse projects.
  • Technology Development and Validation: Advance and promote treatment technology development to accelerate water reuse efficiency and create new opportunities. 
  • Water Information Availability: Expand transparency and access to available water data and information to improve opportunities for water reuse innovation. 
  • Finance Support: Clarify and increase eligibility for financial support in federal and state programs, including: the Clean Water and Drinking Water Revolving Fund, the Water Infrastructure and Financing Innovation Act, best known as WIFIA, and the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program.
  • Integrated Research: Develop a coordinated water reuse research strategy of past and future research and identify critical information gaps.
  • Outreach and Communications: Create a water reuse communications strategy and distribute new outreach and communications materials based on stakeholders’ needs. 
  • Workforce Development: Create more jobs in the water industries and support a skilled workforce through advanced training and education that accounts for the expanding future role of water reuse.
  • Metrics for Success: Set specific goals and timeline targets for action. 
  • International Collaboration: Partner with international leaders in water reuse and raise global awareness of the necessity of water reuse efforts. 

The EPA plans to carry out its Action Plan over the next 3 years. The status of these actions can be tracked on the National Water Reuse Action Plan Online Platform.

The National Water Reuse Action Plan is the latest in a series of policy announcements and initiatives by the federal government that support water reuse and recycling. In November 2019, the EPA and the Bureau of Reclamation announced a Memorandum of Understanding to improve federal cooperation on funding for water reuse projects. Congress also increased funding in fiscal year 2020 for several key programs that support water reuse and recycling projects, including the Bureau of Reclamation’s Title XVI Program and new funding for Aquifer Storage and Recovery.

For more information about the National Water Reuse Action Plan and how it may impact your agency, please contact the authors of this Legal Alert listed at the right in the firm’s Environmental Law & Natural Resources and Government Relations practice groups or your BB&K attorney.
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Disclaimer: BB&K Legal Alerts are not intended as legal advice. Additional facts or future developments may affect subjects contained herein. Seek the advice of an attorney before acting or relying upon any information in this communiqué.

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