Reclaimed Water and Integrated Water Management in North Carolina
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Traditionally, water has been considered a highly reliable resource, but population growth, climate change, and water quality concerns are proving otherwise. The southwestern US has utilized an integrated water resource management strategy heavily dependent upon wastewater reuse for decades as a means to supplement their waning freshwater resources. In the southeastern US, on the other hand, water resources have been historically more abundant leaving little cause for the region to incorporate more stringent water resource management strategies. Water scarcity, however, is an emerging concern for the region and integrated water resource management strategies utilizing reclaimed wastewater should be considered. This master’s project focuses on the feasibility of using reclaimed water in North Carolina as a component of an integrated water resource management plan (IWRM). Through literature review and web research, this study will highlight the importance of reclaimed water and the merits of an IWRM plan which can be seen throughout the country. The bulk of this project, however, looks specifically at the costs and benefits of providing reclaimed water as a non-potable water supply for operation of the steam plant, chilled water plants 1 and 2, and for all irrigation purposes at Duke University. I examined three reclaimed water supply scenarios for Duke University including: (1) Continuing campus water usage as usual, (2) Constructing a direct distribution line from Durham’s Regional reclamation facility, (3) Establishing an on campus membrane bioreactor (MBR) reclamation system. By comparing the net present values of each alternative, I illustrate the economic implications of replacing potable city water with reclaimed water in facility operations and discuss the financial feasibility of these alternatives for the University. I further demonstrate the merits of reclamation systems by identifying other non-quantifiable benefits this resource presents for both the University and the City of Durham. Utilizing the outcome of this analysis in conjuncture with other examples of reclamation and reuse in the state, I also offer recommendations that demonstrate potential environmental, social, and educational benefits that effective water reuse policy could have for future conservation throughout North Carolina.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
integrated water resource management
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