Carolina town begins piping reclaimed water
Cary, N.C., is reducing the amount of wastewater going into streams and rivers while also reducing non-essential use of drinking water. In 1999, the town began offering up to 100,000 gallons of treated wastewater per day to contractors and landscape professionals, and last week, it began piping reclaimed water directly to customers for irrigation and cooling uses. In doing so, Cary has become the first municipality in the state to divert treated wastewater from the Neuse River Basin.
The work is part of Cary’s Reclaimed Water Project, a multi-phase program in which the town revamped its northern and southern wastewater treatment plants to give them reclamation capabilities. The northern plant is diverting up to 4.28 million gallons of reclaimed water each day. (Previously, it was discharging a daily average of 6 million gallons into Crabtree Creek, a tributary to the Neuse River.) The southern plant is permitted to divert up to 864,000 gallons each day.
In addition to transforming the treatment plants, Cary has installed more than 11 miles of transmission pipe and approximately 9 miles of distribution pipe. The reclamation system now serves 354 residential/multifamily customers and 20 commercial/business customers.
Customers using reclaimed water are not subject to outdoor watering restrictions. They pay $2.74 per 1,000 gallons for the water, saving nearly $1.66 per 1,000 gallons over potable water.
“The result of the town’s reclaimed water project will be a cleaner environment and more efficient use of our drinking water supply,” says Town Manager Bill Coleman.