Pilot Scale Water Reuse System

EPA Grant Number: FP917090
Title: Pilot Scale Water Reuse System
Investigators: Beck, Sara Elizabeth
Institution: University of Colorado at Boulder
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: August 1, 2010 through July 31, 2013
Project Amount: $111,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2010) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Drinking Water


Rapid population growth will continue to stress already scarce water resources and contaminate surface water and groundwater supplies. As a result, engineers are evaluating water supply and treatment methods that can augment traditional supplies, including water reuse. Since the majority of the population growth will take place in areas that lack adequate water supply and sanitation systems, this research project will develop and evaluate water supply and treatment technologies that are appropriate for developing communities.


The research will evaluate small-scale, low-cost, high technology systems for treating greywater and contaminated surface water for agricultural and potable water uses. The project will characterize the source water quality necessary for these treatment processes to be effective. Determining the efficiency of these systems in the lab and examining their sustainability in the field could lead to their use by development or emergency relief organizations and facilities in industrialized countries.


Although water reuse is frequently practiced in developing communities, it is not well evaluated. The research will evaluate pilot scale systems that use low-cost, high technology solutions (such as UV light and ultrafiltration) for reusing greywater and treating traditional surface water and runoff sources with the end goal of generating agricultural and potable water. The project will characterize the source water quality necessary for effective reuse treatment processes, determining maximum levels of turbidity, organic loading, pathogens, and microbial contaminants in the source water. After verifying treated source water quality in the laboratory, the systems will be tested in the field and evaluated for their sustainability in developing communities.

Expected Results:

The efficiency of the treatment technologies is expected to vary with the source water quality. By testing the technologies with various source waters, the research will quantify the limits of the technology: testing the flow rate variations with influent water quality, evaluating the tendencies of the technologies to foul, characterizing the foulants, and exploring appropriate cleaning methods. Understanding the fundamentals of the fouling tendencies will lead to ways to minimize fouling and optimize the treatment processes. Quantifying the technological efficiency of these systems in the laboratory first and then examining their sustainability in the field will lead to their potential use by development and emergency relief organizations as well as facilities in industrialized countries. Implementing appropriate, low-cost, low-energy technologies in developing communities can potentially shift paradigms for sustainable technology implementation in the developed world as well.

Potential to Further Environmental/Human Health Protection:

By 2025, an estimated 1.7 billion people will not have access to enough water to satisfy their basic human needs. This research project seeks to evaluate potential appropriate technology solutions that can address water scarcity and contamination problems worldwide.

Supplemental Keywords:

water reuse, source water quality, water quality parameters, developing communities, appropriate technology, sustainable technology,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2011
  • 2012
  • Final