Use of Natural Passive Processes to Improve Water Useability

Project ID: 321
Principal Investigator: Eric Stiles
Research Topic: Water Quality
Funded Fiscal Years: 2004 and 2005
Keywords: None

Research Question

Passive treatment technologies using natural (biogeochemical) processes are being evaluated to determine if they can be effectively applied in situations where conventional chemical-physical treatment processes of water supplies and degraded waters are not practical or cost-effective.

* Can water use and availability be improved by low-cost, passive treatment of supply water, irrigation return flows, and reclaimed wastewater under various hydrologic, climatic, and water management conditions throughout Reclamation and the Western United States?

Need and Benefit

Ever increasing pressures on Western United States water resources emphasizes the need for integrating water use, conservation, and reuse that sustain valuable water and environmental resources. Natural processes occurring within streams, wetlands, and riparian areas serve as a critical link in water management and influence water quantity and quality, usability of water, and fish and wildlife habitat values. Although many important aquatic and wetland systems have been damaged or depleted, in many cases, the essential attributes of these natural systems can be restored to augment water supplies and thereby improve the reliability of related water deliveries. In addition, aquatic and wetland processes can often be adapted to integrate water management and water conservation goals.

Effective water management requires an understanding of natural biogeochemical functions and the relationships with institutional requirements, water facilities, and operational constraints to maintain safe and useable water for designated uses, customers, and for fish and wildlife habitat. By improving the usability of water, Reclamation can demonstrate enhanced water delivery for specific purposes or benefits (i.e., irrigation, municipal and industrial supply, and environmental benefits). Effective planning and management practices can improve the quality of receiving waters, mitigate the impacts of pollution on Reclamation projects, reduce costs to customers and stakeholders, and effectively extend limited water supplies for competing demands. Performance is based on the water treatment efficiency, the suitability of water for secondary or subsequent uses, and the relative costs savings when compared with conventional systems. Additional benefits include the potential for wildlife habitat values and for recreational and education uses.

Contributing Partners

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Research Products

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Last Updated: 4/4/17