National Blue Ribbon Commission on Distributed Non-potable Water Systems launches

Dec. 15, 2016
US Water Alliance and Water Environment & Reuse Foundation gather for first commission meeting in San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO, DECEMBER 14, 2016 -- Today, the US Water Alliance and Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (WE&RF) launched a National Blue Ribbon Commission for Onsite Non-potable Water Systems. Thirty representatives from municipalities, public health agencies, water utilities, and national organizations will serve on the commission.

As water supplies become more strained, climate change persists, and populations grow, communities are looking for new ways to develop and manage local water supplies and increase the resiliency of water infrastructure. Onsite water systems collect and treat wastewater, stormwater, rainwater, and more so that it can be reused in a building, or at the local scale for non-potable needs such as irrigation, toilet flushing, and cooling. These systems are usually integrated into the city's larger water and wastewater system and contribute to more resilient and sustainable water management by using alternate water sources, reducing valuable potable water used for non-potable purposes, and minimizing strain on wastewater systems.

Despite the broad range of benefits, adoption of onsite non-potable systems has been constrained by policy and regulatory barriers. Over the next two years, the National Blue Ribbon Commission will develop model state and federal guidelines based on best practices underway in local communities and world-class research in order to support local implementation of onsite non-potable water systems. The commission will also identify new opportunities for water utilities to facilitate implementation of onsite non-potable systems.

"For the past four years, many of the commissioners have worked together to support the development of innovative onsite water programs. The commissioners representing public health agencies and water utilities are excited to move these solutions forward by translating technical standards into policy recommendations that state and federal officials can support," said Paula Kehoe, Director of Water Resources at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, and Chair of the National Blue Ribbon Commission.

"Systems that treat and reuse water within buildings for irrigation, toilet flushing, and cooling, are an innovative tool for managing water resources. But policy and regulatory barriers have prevented broader adoption by local municipalities. The US Water Alliance is proud to work with public health and water utility leaders to find solutions to these challenges," said Radhika Fox, CEO of the US Water Alliance.

As the commission conducts their work on policy frameworks and emerging business models, they will also identify new research opportunities for the field. "This is a new frontier for the water industry. The development and deployment of onsite water systems for non-potable purposes emerged from utility-driven research for solutions to better manage valuable water supplies. WE&RF is excited to continue to our work to make emerging research more impactful," said Melissa Meeker, CEO of the Water Environment & Reuse Foundation.

The 30 commissioners from municipalities, public health agencies, water utilities, and national organizations commenced their work in San Francisco this week. For more information about the work of the National Blue Ribbon Commission on Onsite Non-potable Water Systems please visit:

National Blue Ribbon Commission for Onsite Non-potable Water Systems advances best management practices to support the use of onsite non-potable water systems for individual buildings or at the local scale. We are committed to protecting public health and the environment, and sustainably managing water-now and for future generations.

US Water Alliance is dedicated to promoting policies and programs to advance a sustainable water future for all. Established in 2008, the Alliance is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization that educates the nation on the true value of water, accelerates the adoption of one water policies and programs, and celebrates innovation in water management. The Alliance brings together diverse interests to identify and advance common-ground, achievable solutions for our nation's most pressing water challenges. Our membership includes water providers, public officials, business leaders, environmental organizations, community leaders, policy organizations, and more.

Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (WE&RF) is a 501c3 charitable corporation seeking to identify, support, and disseminate research that enhances the quality and reliability of water for natural systems and communities with an integrated approach to resource recovery and reuse; while facilitating interaction among practitioners, educators, researchers, decision makers, and the public.