The reclaimed water mingles with water from the river and is diluted even further when it enters the lake, then it undergoes additional treatment before ending up as city tap water — it’s the urbanization of nature’s water cycle.
Other forms of reuse could help cities like Norman conserve precious treated drinking water. Norman already uses reclaimed water at the city’s reclamation facility and the University of Oklahoma uses reclaimed water at the golf course.
Norman also has requested a permit to allow for reclaimed water to be used on the city’s compost. Currently, potable water is used to keep the compost piles damp as required to keep the microbes alive that convert organic matter such as leaves and grass cuttings into compost people can put on their gardens.
Previously, Norman’s application for reuse of water on the compost piles had appeared to hit a dead end, but Komiske said emerging dialogue with the new leadership at DEQ indicates the agency will be receptive to city’s needs and will provide clear feedback on what requirements must be met to ensure the reclaimed water is used safely and appropriately.
Komiske said many states have reuse policies that allow for a variety of applications and Oklahoma doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel.
“We can learn from (other states),” Komiske said.
Standridge said SB 1187 does not mandate reuse but enables water districts to undertake projects more efficiently. The bill now advances to the House for consideration. Rep. Scott Martin, R-Norman, is the house author of the bill.
Standridge said the bill is a work in progress that could be amended with more input from the experts and officials. Right now, the bill requires DEQ to respond to reuse permit requests within 90 days. Some officials fear that may not be enough time for the agency to respond appropriately.