Is Reuse Coming to the Northeast: UCONN Evaluates MF / RO / and UV


  • Richard Cisterna, P.E., Joyeeta Banerjee, P.E., Keith McHale, P.E. - Hazen and Sawyer
  • Michael Pacholski - University of Connecticut

Wastewater reuse can be an important component of a comprehensive watershed management program and water supply plan. Removing wastewater streams from surface water bodies can reduce pollutant loads to these receiving waters including nutrients, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals and endocrine disrupting compounds. Instead of discharging wastewater to surface water bodies, that often times feed other water supplies, the wastewater can be treated to a higher level and reused for beneficial purposes. Another important advantage is that wastewater reuse also reduces water demands that potable supplies would otherwise have to satisfy. These benefits of reclaimed water are being strongly considered by a growing number of utilities in the northeast, as water supplies are becoming more stressed. In particular, the University of Connecticut (University) is embarking on a first of its kind water reclamation project for the region.

In response to an increasingly limited groundwater supply, the University is progressively venturing into the world of wastewater reuse. This is an area that few have decided to explore in the “traditionally water rich” northeastern United States. Most utilities in the region are not familiar with the concept of wastewater reuse and are typically steered away due to the lack of drivers, lack of public education / acceptance, and lack of established regulatory framework. But the University has decided to place wastewater reuse at the forefront of their alternative water supply strategy, as the severity of their water supply limitations becomes clearer.

The first step was to evaluate reuse demand opportunities throughout the University. Three primary reuse applications were identified. Low pressure boiler feed, cooling tower makeup water and spray irrigation could create a maximum day demand of 1mgd. One of the major hurdles was to quickly establish a regulatory framework, from which to create and evaluate a reuse program. The Team comprised of engineers, University staff and local regulators selected Florida’s Reclaimed Water Regulations (FAC 62-610) as the basis for the program.

The technical evaluation reviewed sand and microfiltration technologies for the irrigation and cooling tower feed. Microfiltration was selected based on several criteria, including the need for proper pretreatment for the boiler feed’s reverse osmosis system. Ultraviolet (UV) light disinfection was evaluated against sodium hypochlorite. Both medium pressure and low pressure / high output in-vessel systems were analyzed. UV disinfection was selected with an in-vessel LPHO system edging out the MP system and hypochlorite option. The overall program could cost on the order of $20,000,000.

This paper will focus on the University’s progressive new program. It will focus on the details of the technical evaluation and design of the microfiltration, reverse osmosis, UV disinfection and ancillary systems. It will also discuss some of the unique issues associated with implementing reuse for this type of application.

For a copy of the full paper, please contact the author at

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Horizons Fall 2017 (pdf)

Horizons showcases significant water, wastewater, reuse, and stormwater projects and innovations that help our clients to achieve their goals, and can help you achieve yours. Articles are written by top engineers and process group leaders, demonstrating and explaining the beneficial application of a variety of technologies and tools.

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