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Ecology Amends Reclaimed Water and Purple Pipe Rules

The purple pipe could be a local solution for Washington drought problems. The state Department of Ecology is hoping to offset water shortages by encouraging municipalities to use reclaimed water, often fed through purple pipe.

Ecology staff have drafted a rule to regulate how local jurisdictions reuse sewer water. Dennis McDonald, with Ecology’s water quality program, says streamlining the regulations would encourage more cities to set up reclaimed water systems.

McDonald: “If they’re in a drought situation and they are seeing that their aquifer is decreasing over time and it’s not being recharged, this rule provides a way for further treatment of waste water to the level where it could be used for recharging aquifers, putting back into the streams, or facilitating the creation of wetlands.”

Various reclamation projects are happening already in 28 jurisdictions, such as Airway Heights, Quincy, King County, and Olympia. And ecology stresses the treatment process makes former waste water safe for irrigations, controlling dust, or flushing toilets – just not for drinking.

The department has opened their proposed reclaimed water rule for comment and will host a public hearing in Spokane Valley Tuesday, and Lacey on Thursday.

Copyright 2015 Spokane Public Radio

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