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Industrial Companies, Municipalities ‘De-risk’ Existing Water Supplies w/Wastewater Reuse Plans

Climate volatility has led to an increasing focus on resiliency and water supply risk, both for companies and municipalities, and that focus is driving investment in water reuse/reclaimed wastewater solutions. While much of the focus has centered on municipal utilities, industrial companies are also expanding their role in water reuse adoption to supplement their ongoing water needs, according to a new report from Bluefield Research.

Electric power plants, oil refineries, and upstream oil and gas players are the biggest industries moving forward with reclaimed wastewater projects; craft breweries and data centers are also using recycled wastewater. And interest in onsite, or decentralized reuse systems, is rising, with growth being seen in commercial facilities for toilets, cooling, and landscaping.

In terms of the municipal water in the US, the sector will see capacity additions to the tune of $21.5 billion from 2017 to 2027.

“Climate volatility, such as the hurricane in Houston and California’s five-year drought, are forcing municipal utilities to seek alternative strategies to de-risk existing water supplies, and water reuse has become key solution in their contingency plans,” says Erin Bonney Casey, Bluefield research director. “Just look at the rise in reuse projects in the pipeline. In 2015, Bluefield monitored 247 projects across 11 states. Now we are tracking more than 775 reuse projects across 19 states,” she added.

At the epicenter of US reuse activity are three states – California, Texas and Florida – which represent 80% of planned capacity additions. Even after the rains arrived last year, California utilities demonstrated a paradigm shift by proceeding to move forward with more than 6.0 million m3/d of new reuse supplies, including systems for potable application. Bluefield forecasts 2.2 million m3/d of potable capacity additions over the next decade, across the US, mainly in urban centers.

The US Municipal Wastewater Reuse Landscape, 2017-2027

US Water Management Spend

Source: Bluefield Research

“Central to the adoption of potable reuse are California regulators, who are progressing towards a streamlined potable reuse policy. This is important nationwide, because the passage of a dedicated policy is expected to serve as a template for other state regulators seeking to facilitate efficiencies in water usage,” according to Bonney Casey.

With investment in municipal reuse expected to grow 15% over ten years, compared to only 1% annually for municipal water infrastructure generally, reuse presents a major growth opportunity in a traditionally slow-paced sector. The majority of CAPEX spend for reuse over the next decade will go to pipes (42%), advanced treatment technologies & solutions (40%), and engineering & design (13%).

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