Research Opportunities to Treat Impaired Water Sources Associated with Reclamation Projects: A Case Study in the Great Plains Region
By using a survey-based approach to gather information on water quantity and quality challenges associated with Reclamation projects, can we better inform future investments under programs such as the Title XVI and Research & Development that address core, mission-related needs involving the treatment of impaired water sources?
Need and Benefit
This activity has been identified as a high-priority need by the Regional Director for the Great Plains Region. Reclamation owns and/or operates nearly 350 dams/reservoirs and 60 hydro power plants across the West that have a tremendous benefit to the nation, providing agricultural and municipal and industrial supplies, flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Other mission-critical benefits derive from Endangered Species Act compliance/mitigation, rural water projects, tribal assets/water rights settlements, etc. These benefits face significant threats caused by growing demands on water, aging infrastructure, and declining water supplies, all of which are being exacerbated by climate change/variability. Whether on a local or basin-wide level, countless examples exist where the needs of Reclamation and our stakeholders have been addressed through the treatment of impaired water supply sources. This may include the treatment of existing Project supplies or the treatment of other sources that reduce demands on Project supplies. Examples may involve storm water management, aquifer storage and recovery, desalination, the reuse of municipal, industrial, domestic, and agricultural wastewaters., or any other project that involves the treatment of impaired ground and surface waters to reduce total dissolved solids, microorganisms, disinfectants/ byproducts, heavy metals, organic chemicals, radionuclides, emerging contaminants, etc. A few (of what we believe are many) examples of Reclamation projects within GP include the Washita Project's Foss Reservoir, which requires a sophisticated advanced treatment system to remove elevated TDS and associated brine; the Colorado-Big Thompson Project's three lake system, which faces clarity issues that threaten project benefits, and the Mni Wiconi Rural Water Supply Project in South Dakota, which has elevated levels of the disinfection byproduct Nitrosamines, which is subject to future regulations for drinking water.
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