The Water Environment & Reuse Foundation has awarded a contract to Virginia Tech for work to evaluate the health of the Potomac Watershed. With funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the research team includes longtime WE&RF partners DC Water, State University of New York at Buffalo and the University of Maryland. This illustrates the strength of the new WE&RF organization, combining key research areas of both previous organizations to make a healthier watershed and assess reuse and conservation efforts. The research team also includes Hazen and Sawyer, which has worked with both research foundations in the past.
The project is titled "Improving Water Reuse for a Much Healthier Potomac Watershed, to Assess the Impact and Outcomes of Reuse and Conservation Measures on Ecological and Human Health on the Potomac River Watershed." The Potomac River serves as an excellent illustration of the water cycle as it is a drinking water source, a national environmental treasure and an integral component of the region’s stormwater and wastewater management systems. The researchers will perform a triple bottom line analysis on treatment strategies used in the study to determine costs, impact and benefits of reuse and reclamation strategies for improving water quality.
The research aims to actively identify hot spots and quantify the effect of reuse and management solutions on these endpoints. The researchers will conduct focused pilot-level studies on two subwatersheds to compare the effect of planned and unplanned water reuse on supply and quality management. With Occoquan Watershed Monitoring Laboratory, Virginia Tech will use paired watershed studies to evaluate impacts of current reclamation, reuse, harvesting and management strategies on source controls of pollutants. Two pairs of sites representing advanced vs. conventional reclamation practices, with similar land use, will be selected to examine the effect of reclamation upgrades. Similarly, another two pairs of sites representing stormwater reuse will be chosen for examining effects of stormwater upgrades on sources, as well as two pairs of agricultural sites sampled to examine focused effects of agricultural management.
Data collected in the first two years will be used to create a temporally/spatially based framework to inform decisions regarding type and location of reclamation, reuse, harvesting and management strategies. In Year 3, a framework will be developed to facilitate prioritization of reuse and management strategies for the Potomac Watershed for federal agencies, local governments, water utilities and other stakeholders as they shape future management approaches in large human-impacted watersheds.
The Water Environment & Reuse Foundation is a 501(c)3 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.