The latest public-relations strategy for direct potable reuse (DPR) is simple: Give people beer.
The Southwest Water Campus, a coalition of Arizona water utilities and water service companies, is working on a project that could bring greater appreciation to a process that is sometimes spurned by skeptics as “toilet-to-tap,” the Arizona Daily Star reported.
Jeff Prevatt, the team leader of Southwest Water Campus, thinks beer can help with public acceptance. His team entered the Arizona Water Innovation Challenge, a contest with a $250,000 award for the best water-sustainability project. The contest is sponsored by the Arizona Community Foundation, Republic Media, and Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy.
The entry from Southwest Water Campus aims to shatter “the stigma that surrounds recycled water by presenting it in a form that’s harder to turn down — beer,” the Arizona Daily Star reported.
The proposal “aims to bring awareness to water scarcity in the state and to introduce a new use for potable reuse water — wastewater that’s been thoroughly treated to become drinkable,” the Arizona Daily Star reported.
Prevatt said "the yuck factor" is the biggest obstacle for DPR.
“All water should be judged by its quality, not its history,” he said, per the report. “We can treat water right now to any quality that you desire.”
“People have problems drinking their own tap water, but I think they would drink beer with any water that’s being deemed safe,” he said.
The team’s proposal: “Load small-scale water-treatment equipment onto a huge truck and drive it around the state next summer. The mobile facility will process water at municipal water treatment plants. Some of that water will be dropped off at breweries and some will be bottled and handed out to the public,” the report said.
Here’s how the team got breweries on board:
Craft breweries in Arizona will use the potable reuse water to brew special batches of beer, and then face off in a competition to become the tastiest toilet-to-beer-tap brew in Arizona. The Southwest Water Campus has partnered with the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild to connect with breweries across the state, said Rob Fullmer, the guild’s executive director.
The Southwest Water Campus team includes the Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department, Tucson Water, the town of Marana, the University of Arizona, Carollo Engineers, CH2M, Clean Water Services, and WateReuse, according to the news report.
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) is in the process of reviewing its potable reuse rules to see if it can allow the practice, the Arizona Daily Star previously reported.
Scientists predict that the state’s water supply challenges will worsen in the coming decades.
“The risk of a severe, multi-decade drought hitting the Southwest United States by the end of the century could reach as high as 99 percent if greenhouse gas emissions continue along current lines, says a paper by a team of scientists from Cornell University, Columbia University and NASA,” Arizona Public Media recently reported.
To read more about water recycling visit Water Online’s Water Reuse Solutions Center.