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Department of Ecology to set guidance for reclaiming wastewater

Every year, millions of gallons of water go down the drain that could be re-used.

The state Department of Ecology is developing guidance for local governments so they have an approved, standardized approach to reclaim water.

“Water is our most precious natural resource and is declining in many parts of our state” said Ecology Director Maia Bellon. “If we can be more efficient, it will help us balance competing needs – providing water for people while protecting stream flows for fish."

Reclaimed water is treated by sewer plants to ensure it’s safe for non-drinking uses, such as irrigating crops, flushing toilets or even controlling dust.

Reclaimed water can also be a resource to create, restore and enhance wetlands, recharge underground water supplies, and increase flows in our rivers.

Work that was paused in 2010 during the economic recession now picks up where the state left off. Ecology has “restarted the clock” on the official rule-making process, going back to the beginning of that formal process, but not on the development and writing of the rule.

The completed rule will provide technical standards and a predictable and efficient regulatory review and permitting process for local governments to reclaim water.

Ecology’s goal is for greater regulatory certainty when facilities want to reclaim water.

Ecology will begin the reclaimed water rule-making process by hosting a statewide videoconference workshop from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on July 14. Details are on Ecology’s website.

Ecology will reinstate a Rule Advisory Committee to address lingering issues or questions with the rule as needed.

To ask questions or learn more about opportunities to participate in the rule development process, contact Dennis McDonald at 360-407-6321 or email reclaimedwater@ecy.gov.

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