Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2015NM177B

Understanding the Costs of Arid Inland Communities

Institute: New Mexico
Year Established: 2015 Start Date: 2015-03-01 End Date: 2016-02-29
Total Federal Funds: $30,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $60,000

Principal Investigators: Caroline Scruggs

Abstract: With increasing population and development pressures, many regions around the world face freshwater shortages, which threaten human quality of life and erode biodiversity in freshwater ecosystems. A US Department of Interior report predicts hot spots of conflict over water in New Mexico by 2025; therefore, unexploited sources of water of adequate quality must be proactively identified so that water quality characteristics, treatment requirements, reliability standards, and regulations can be determined before shortfall lead to crisis. Planned potable water reuse is a supply-side approach that can improve sustainability and reliability of drinking water supplies by generating high-quality drinking water from wastewater. However, most of the research on this approach has focused on large, coastal communities, and knowledge gaps exist regarding appropriate technologies, treatment process configurations, and associated costs for an arid, inland context. As a result, public utilities in arid, inland communities are struggling with long-term planning and election of appropriate strategies to mitigate shrinking water supplies while minimizing constraints to sustainable community planning. Research is needed to better understand which potable reuse options are optimal for arid, inland communities, including an examination of how these options costs compare.