Drinking water vulnerability in less-populated communities in Texas to wastewater-derived contaminants

Thuy T. Nguyen, Paul K. Westerhoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

De facto potable reuse occurs when treated wastewater is discharged upstream of drinking water treatment plants (DWTPs) and can lead to contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) occurring in potable water. Our prior research, focusing on larger communities that each serve >10,000 people across the USA, indicates that elevated de facto reuse (DFR) occurs in Texas, and thus we added to our model DWTPs serving smaller communities to understand their vulnerability to CECs. Here, we show that two-thirds of all surface water intakes in Texas were impacted by DFR at levels exceeding 90% during even mild droughts, and under average streamflow DFR levels range between 1 and 20%. DWTPs serving lower population communities (<10,000 people) have higher DFR levels, and fewer than 2% of these communities have advanced technologies (e.g., ozone, activated carbon) at DWTPs to remove CECs. Efforts to improve water quality in these less populated communities are an important priority. The model approach and results can be used to identify prioritization for monitoring and treatment of CECs, including in underserved communities, which normally lack knowledge of their impacts from DFR occurring within their watersheds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number19
Journalnpj Clean Water
Volume2
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Waste Management and Disposal

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Drinking water vulnerability in less-populated communities in Texas to wastewater-derived contaminants'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this