As Flagstaff grows and its reclaimed water capacity increases, for what uses, outside of landscape irrigating, do you think this water should be allocated to replace potable water?
Flagstaff’s reclaimed water is rated as an “A+” but this does not mean we should jump into using it as potable water without a better understanding of potentially overlooked and dangerous contaminants. The grading system was established in 1996, and a recent National Research Council committee concluded that reclaimed wastewater should only be used to supplement drinking-water sources as a last resort. We are not at the point of last resort, and without a better understanding how contaminants such as medications affect our health, I do not think we should convert our reclaimed water into potable water. If the city had tens of millions of dollars, it could build an advanced treatment facility, but we don’t have that kind of money.
Yes, but how we are going to do that is going to take a community conversation. Do we do that indirectly? Where water is put in our surface water supply like what Las Vegas, Nevada has done. Do we do that directly? This conversation is also known as One Water.
We have moved beyond this conversation. Our reclaimed water is not currently increasing. We are #1 in the state for water conservation and that means we are reducing water use, which means we are reducing the supply of reclaimed. We continue this current course and begin ONE WATER. The Council has just approved a new Master Plan which includes this idea of “one water” which will determine how water will support a sustainable Flagstaff. This data will help set policy when it comes to the best use of all water in commercial development, industrial development, and residential development.
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