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Sustainable Management of the Water Cycle: It is All Connected

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Abstract:

The increasing demand for water supply and wastewater treatment has generally been defined in terms of a linear logic – water is delivered to a municipality and taken away – to be out of sight/out of mind. Over time with more and more of us living closer and closer together, water supplies have been brought from farther away and discharge of treated effluent has is occurring closer to population centers in developing cities. A new management strategy is needed that recognizes the need to appropriately utilize the terrestrial water cycle. This paper will suggest that Total Water Management (TWM) should be considered within this broader concept.

In TWM, cost and perceived water quality have the greatest potential for creating conflict within the community. For example, reclaimed water reuse or recycling has the unique characteristic of supporting or supplementing water supply but may be unacceptable to water users due to potential health concerns. Or, desalination can be costly and its environmental impacts can be significant if not appropriately planned and designed. Environmental and growth issues are driving attention toward more integrated thinking involving all aspects of water supply – including reuse. An example is the opportunity to reduce cost via reuse instead of employing higher level of treatment that may be needed to continue to discharge or to accommodate growth in load. At the same time we find that we need to reduce withdrawals from our rivers to accommodate environmental flows.

This paper presents the TWM concept, identifies issues, approaches, and benefits of developing plans based on that concept, and examines two cases where such plans were used successfully, namely, the Town of Cary, North Carolina and Clayton County, Georgia.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2175/193864707787969955

Publication date: 2007-01-01

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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