Water Reuse Is Perhaps a Dated Idea

What does innovative mean? New, right?

Like my colleague, Web Editor Jason Goodman, I sometimes see the glass half empty and tend to believe there isn't anything new under the sun. Since that includes everything, I wasn't surprised to get some strong feedback from a Water & Wastewater News e-newsletter subscriber on New Jersey's "innovative" thinking.

In an April issue of the newsletter, we ran an article about how the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection proposed new rules to encourage more reclamation of treated wastewater for irrigation and industrial processes.

Agency Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson had to use the "i" word. She said: "Once again, New Jersey is at the forefront of using innovative thinking to tackle environmental challenges."

I thrive on reader feedback and was excited to get an e-mail message from Dan Chase, senior engineer at Penfield & Smith in California.

He noted that southern California has been reusing wastewater long before 1985, when Chase started in the business. "The first project I ever worked on was a recycled water system for irrigation of cemeteries, greenbelts, golf courses, and parks. The water from the plant that fed the system had to meet potable water standards as mandated by EPA. EPA and the wastewater company had to monitor the system and kept lab staff on site."

That 10 million-gallon-per-day (mgd) plant has been upgraded to about 16 mgd now, Chase said. (Not only was California's reuse of wastewater newer, it also seems to be sustainable.)

Chase asked: Why does New Jersey think this is new?

I can't speak for Ms. Jackson, but maybe some marketing person put that word in her mouth, rather cavalierly. Or perhaps she was expressing that wastewater reuse is a new concept to state residents. It would be better if we had more appropriate phrasing, like New Jersey is at the forefront of recycling good ideas to tackle environmental challenges.

The hint of competition makes me want to know which state did implement innovative wastewater reuse.

Care to comment? Send your thoughts to lwilliams@1105media.com and we will post them with this blog on www.eponline.com.

Posted by L.K. Williams, EPonline on Apr 17, 2008