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Conservation Corner
The Conservation Corner


Reclaimed Municipal Water Can Reduce Costs

In Oregon, reclaimed water is defined as water that: has been used for municipal purposes; after such use is treated in a treatment works; and as a result of that treatment is suitable for beneficial use that otherwise could not occur.  The use of reclaimed municipal water for beneficial purposes can reduce the quantity of warm, nutrient-rich wastewater discharged into streams and can be used in place of or supplemental to existing water rights. 

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is the lead agency in regulating the use of reclaimed municipal water (also known as “recycled water”), and in consultation with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, determines whether the use would be beneficial to listed fish species and instream flow targets.  OWRD’s role is to determine whether the reclaimed municipal water use would cause harm to other water rights downstream of the discharge point of the treatment works.  Additionally, reclaimed municipal water use registrations are tracked in OWRD’s Water Rights Information System. The data includes the supplier and user of the reclaimed water, and where the reclaimed water will be  beneficially used. 

The use of reclaimed municipal water can help offset water demand from traditional sources as water from those sources become more difficult to obtain. It could also be a viable option for municipalities to reduce costs and for water users (irrigators, industrial use) looking for an additional water supply. 
If you have questions about using reclaimed municipal water in Oregon, please contact Kerri Cope at (503) 986-0919 or Kerri.H.Cope@oregon.gov.