Friday, June 12, 2015

Brackish water but what about potable reuse

The Hueco Bolson
If you haven't already, read the El Paso Times story, El Paso water plant to make brackish water good enough to drink. In a nutshell, working with EPWU, "Enviro Water Mineral Co. is designing a plant that will extract useful minerals from the leftover water, treat it and sell it back to the utility. The process is expected to increase the rate of freshwater recovery at the plant from 80 percent to about 93 percent . . ." That's good news but I had two questions for an EPWU official.

I wanted to know if this new project means that there won't be potable reuse. The answer was not only "no" but that the technology would benefit the potable reuse project. 

My next question was whether potable reuse would mean farmers would drill more wells and deplete the aquifer more quickly since waste water now is treated enough to be used for irrigation thus limiting the use of well water. The answer was possibly but not probably. It's one thing to drill a hundred foot well and another to drill a thousand foot well.

What could happen is that farmers will need to implement more conservation efforts - using better techniques for irrigation and for water delivery as well as selecting crops that are not so water intensive. A large amount of water is exported each year from the El Paso area in the form of cotton and pecans. On the other hand, a pomegranate tree uses one-fifth the water of a pecan tree and just look at the increasing market for pomegranates!

Reclaiming brackish water, potable reuse and better farming water conservation practices means a sustainable future for water for El Paso.

By the way, I read this definition of sustainability the other day: "Sustainability is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations."

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