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Implementation of a Reclaimed Water Programme in a Developing Nation: The Trinidad Experience

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Trinidad is the most southern island of the Caribbean and is located northeast of the South American continent and within close proximity to Venezuela. Historically the Caribbean has been blessed with an abundance of water resources but the meteorological drought experienced in Caribbean countries during their most recent dry season saw a heightened awareness for reduction in water wastage as well as the necessity for development of sustainable water sources. Traditionally, water resources for supplying the potable and non-potable (agricultural and industrial) needs of Trinidad's population were focused primarily on surface and groundwater sources. Reclaimed water has, however, become an attractive alternative as a reliable non -potable water source, as in many water starved areas around the world.

The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (GORTT) together with its Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) took the initiative to capitalize on the valuable resource available from the Beetham Wastewater Treatment Plant, through the implementation of the Beetham Water Reuse Programme. The Beetham Wastewater Treatment Plant produces 80 ML/d of secondary treated effluent and is the largest biological wastewater treatment plant in the island and is located towards the northwestern section of the island just east of the capital city of Port of Spain. The Beetham Water Reuse Programme is the island's first attempt at a water reclamation project undertaken for beneficial use of wastewater treatment plant effluent. With the assistance of AECOM as the Programme Manager, and as part of the Programme works, an assessment was carried out with the objective to identify the potential reuse options of the Reuse Programme.

Applications for the reclaimed water were examined and the water quality requirements were established. Appropriate treatment processes to achieve the water quality for the particular application as well as distribution schemes were determined. The options were developed and the most feasible options were assessed by a 20-year life cycle cost analysis.

It was determined that Trinidad has a number of reuse options ranging from urban to industrial uses as well as options for indirect potable reuse and a multi-user option was recommended for implementation. The major challenges for implementing the reuse programme arise primarily as a result of the absence of reuse water policies as well as reuse water quality standards. Some of the challenges included the supply of a lower quality water to users already receiving a potable water supply, securing commitment from end users, the historically low tariffs on existing potable water and the high cost of pipelines to deliver the reclaimed water to end users.
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Keywords: Reuse; effluent; reclaimed water; treatment; wastewater; water quality

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-01-01

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