As California struggles with an ongoing, historic drought, researchers are racing to find ways to address the state's lack of water. And there is new evidence that blending wastewater may go a long way toward fixing that water deficit in an affordable way.
Scientists at the University of California at Riverside, in a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science & Technology earlier this month, found that a specific blend of reclaimed waters can be cost-effective while meeting or surpassing quality requirements that are necessary to keep too much salt or other minerals away from crops, Science Daily reported Monday.
“While the reuse of treated wastewater is not a new concept, concerns over the rising demand for water from population growth, coupled with both economic and environmental challenges, have made this option more attractive, ” Quynh K. Tran, a UCR doctorate student in chemical and environmental engineering, wrote in the research paper alongside two of his colleagues.
The researchers assumed that the wastewater being used in this process would have already been treated to remove pathogens and instead hoped to find specific blends that could be used for various grasses and crops. Because the pathogens would have been removed — alongside solids that can be found in wastewater — the water would be considered generally safe for irrigation and lawns.
California is enduring its fifth year of severe drought and has seen incredibly high temperatures recently. In the 12-month period ending in May, the state recorded its third warmest year on record.
As a result of the drought and warming conditions, Gov. Jerry Brown issued a drought state of emergency in 2014 and then ordered continued water savings as the drought continued earlier this year.
One of the main reasons for the drought did not dissipate much this year: Snowpack, which provides a considerable portion of the water in the state, remained at just 87 percent of the normal amount this spring.