Identifying Reclamation-wide Water Quality Challenges

Project ID: 5144
Principal Investigator: Collins Balcombe
Research Topic: Desalination and Water Treatment
Funded Fiscal Years: 2016
Keywords: None

Research Question

The purpose of this effort will be to answer the following questions:
• How can we develop a comprehensive understanding of advanced water treatment (AWT) needs across
Reclamation projects?
• What are the benefits of Reclamation's AWT program in terms of meeting the needs of Reclamation's projects,
customers, and stakeholders?
• Can we use the individual needs determined at the project and program levels, to lead to more defined and
direct research objectives in the AWT program in the future?

Need and Benefit

Much of the Western U.S. continues to be in severe drought, which highlights the need to expand water supply
portfolios that take advantage of treating impaired supply sources such as seawater, brackish waters, and
wastewater effluent. The Oklahoma-Texas Area Office (OTAO) has jurisdiction over 11 reservoir projects across
Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, which together deliver more than 650,000 acre-feet of municipal, industrial, and
irrigation water annually to about 3 million customers, and which also provide fish and wildlife, recreation, and
flood control benefits. Currently, all three of its reservoirs in Texas are below 50 percent conservation pool
elevation, with two reservoirs all but completely dry. This situation is being repeated across the nation, and
entities have a compelling need to develop new water supplies to help supplies traditionally provided by reservoirs
during severe droughts.

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

Bureau of Reclamation Review

The following documents were reviewed by experts in fields relating to this project's study and findings. The results were determined to be achieved using valid means.

Identifying Reclamation-wide Water Quality Challenges (final, PDF, 1.3MB)
By Collins Balcombe
Publication completed on September 30, 2016

Using the Great Plains (GP) Region's Oklahoma-Texas Area Office (OTAO) as a case study, we developed a survey and reporting framework that can be transferred across multiple offices and regions to identify Reclamation's mission-critical water supply and operational needs that may be addressed through the treatment of impaired water sources for beneficial use. Examples may involve storm water treatment; 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. Results will help raise awareness of agency needs while guiding future investments under Reclamation's programs such as Title XVI and Research & Development (R&D). Such investments include deploying Reclamation's Technical Services Center (TSC) and funding targeted projects that result in faster, cheaper, or better ways of accomplishing Reclamation's mission, including the implementation of adaptive strategies that prolong Reclamation's water supplies or offset demands on Reclamation supplies through expansion or development of new supplies.

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Last Updated: 6/22/20